A group of insane men lived together on the outskirts of an ancient village. Their insanity was in the way of foolishness.

They would come to town whenever there was a wedding, festival, or feast. Being simpletons, they loved to eat, dance, and of course, drink. On one such celebration they came to the village and over the course of the evening were all overserved.

Staggering drunk, the poor fools attempted to wobble their way home. Unsuccessful, they collapsed in one great heap, and slept off their collective stupor until morning. As the sun began to rise, they began wailing in anguish.

A village elder was passing by and asked, "What is wrong?" One of the men said, "We fell asleep entangled! All our limbs have gone to sleep and we can’t tell whose leg, neck, or arm belongs to whom!"

"This is easily solved," he said. He reached down, picked up a tree limb, and began whittling a sharp point at one end of the stick. Then he jabbed one of their legs. "Owwww!" one fool cried. ""I found this leg’s owner," the wise man said.

He stabbed a hand here; thumped a head there until all were disentangled and on their way home.

It’s a bizarre story, for sure, but these are bizarre times. Our insane and foolish society has fallen into a heap. We are twisted and entangled, like nothing seen in my lifetime, the collective howl serving as proof that we need wisdom — a few village elders — to help us get back on our feet.

We've had years of growing inequities; polarization fueled by selfish politicians; the loss of moral, ethical and compassionate standards; the unchecked proliferation ofchauvinism, racism, charlatanism, militarism, fundamentalism, corporatism, and egotism. This is the tangled web we have weaved.

What will be required to recover? A necessary, four-letter word: Pain. We need our moral senses jabbed, as it were, by a sharp stick. We have to get our feeling back, even if it requires a kick to the head. We must be willing to accept the suffering of repentance — the changing of our hearts, minds, and ways — or we will remain in a fallen heap.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil," the often quoted Edmund Burke said, "is for good men to do nothing." True. And the only thing that will keep a people entangled, ensnared, and on the ground is their unwillingness to let the pain of these days force them to rise.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.org.