2013

9 January 2013: Will the madness ever end?

Will the madness ever end?

The cultural war is over, that is if one limits the particulars to same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to control her own body, and similar social issues.

Ongoing skirmishes continue on those fronts from religious cultural warriors who believe they have a direct line from God, know His Will, and thus feel obligated to enforce it, but in the larger society, we’re moving forward.

Battles on different fronts might not seem part of that war, but they, nonetheless, correlate to the ongoing struggle for the soul of America.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve focused on the issue of easy access to weapons of mass destruction that have caused considerable death.  It’s a titanic battle beyond the scope of Second Amendment rights with a major outcome at stake: What kind of America we want to live in?

Those that argue human nature is intrinsically corrupt and we’re in need of active intervention from an all-good deity to help us defeat satanic forces see a dualistic world of good and evil.  To them, we’re each in one camp or the other.  That perspective is not unique to America.  Iran, Afghanistan, and nearby lands are replete with like-minded souls, except that from their point of view, we’re the bad guys.  So it goes.

It comes down to self-fulfilling prophecy.  If one conceives of such a world, it becomes reality not only for them but also for the rest of us who, while rationally rejecting bi-polar humankind, are outgunned since their chief weapon is fear, which in turn leads to paranoia and hysteria when allowed to fester.

Simply put we live in a violence-prone society because we CHOOSE to live in one.  It affirms an a priori belief as old as the Old Testament, which itself is the product of a small tribe surrounded by overwhelming hostile forces.

Another battlefield is with regard to the role of government.  While once a political and philosophical debate, it too has taken on religious tones.  Government and those who advocate for a more robust role for it in American daily lives are seen by conservative cultural warriors as evil.

In the ongoing congressional skirmish on the role of government, the context of the “fiscal cliff” brouhaha,  zealots crusading against government intervention in the economic and societal processes did and continue to do all they can to emasculate government programs.  They hearken to a past replete of sweatshops, child labor, and 12-hour-plus workdays.

From the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, through the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and into the first decades of the 20th century, the legacy of the conservative right is a dystopian society in which the haves really have and the have-nots struggle for a meager existence.

Proponents of such a time hearken to an idyllic land and time—a good old days—that never was.  The heyday of tycoons and barons such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie might have been glitter and gold to them, but for those who slaved to make them the American nobility they were it was a time of grinding poverty and despair.  In Merry Old England, land ownership created and helped sustain the landed gentry; here unfettered capitalism has served to create an American peerage.

Franklin D. Roosevelt railed against such men during the Great Depression in scathing terms calling them “economic royalists.”  Their congressional sycophants and minions did then pretty much what they do today, political warriors determined to restore a debilitated system.

Rather than seeing particular issues such as gun and ammunition control and safety-net programs like Medicare in isolation, it would serve the rest of us best to see them in context of the larger struggle for the American soul.

What kind of a future do we want?  Is it one in which the Mad Max syndrome is prevalent, one in which public school teachers, those who eschewing personal monetary gain dedicate their lives to higher, nobler pursuits in service to the youth of America and their parents, are too armed with the very instruments wreaking havoc on our society?

Is that the model we wish to create for impressionable youth rather than one of rational, reasoned discourse and open inquiry?  If so, why stop there?  Why not require clergy to be armed for churches are not immune from such violence?

How about legislative bodies, for who knows what kind of irate citizen flummoxed due to him not getting his way might want to “even the score.”

If that is the course, there will be only one remaining question: Where and when will the madness end?

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