America's Guiding Light
We move intrinsically and unrestrained when confronted by beauty, because within it's presence, in that moment, we are absent the burden of thought and are moved instead by a heart that can not help but drink from there. If in the drinking we come to drown, the heart does not regret the drowning. It knows, given that moment to live again, it would not, could not, do any different. That is what "right" is like. Confronted by it's presence, our conscience drinks from "what we ought to do". We can rinse our mouths and spit her out or choose to drown in the wont of her. Should we choose to drown, it is because, in that moment, " America The Beautiful " isn't just a song; It is her people.
As a nation we are compromising that collective spirit, which in the beginning, was spun from individual threads into a fabric that bound us, one to another, as Americans. We stripped ourselves of bondage and clothed ourselves in the rags of liberty. We were united in our defense, united in our condition and united in a commitment to build our house on a bedrock of principle. That and that alone, is the wealth embedded into our origin. Those principles did not fall from the hand of Moses to a people wandering in the desert. They were extracted from the souls of men and women who had need and want to preserve that moment as a cemented heritage for those of us yet to come. They were extracted from hearts and minds deprived of the things that make life worth the living. They were extracted from an imprisonment in which that imprisonment fostered in their spirit "the things men ought to do" to one another. That liberty would emerge from the blight of slavery, that henceforth, "what men ought to do" to one another would shape the birth of a new nation.
The rights listed in our Declaration of Independence and spilling into our Constitution were extracted from one surging principle, that men should do the thing which whispers deep within, "Do the thing you ought to do" and the thing "we ought to do" has whispered to us since right and wrong began to dance with one another in the biblical garden. It is always there and it whispers relentlessly, though we would stop our ears for fear that such principle might slow our pursuit of the "American dream".
Principles follow, like an old, faithful dog that can no longer keep pace with his master. And the American Dream, once clothed in moral fabric, finds that it can run faster unencumbered by principles. It hears the distorted whisper of selfishness; "acquisition will bring wealth that your principles can not buy and you can wallow in the pleasure of them". And what of our moral wealth? "We buy its silence". Therein, is the lie. We can not silence "the whisper" and its haunts us like the memory of betrayed love. It will not go away because it was written in the hearts of men by someone more attached to our humanity than we ourselves. It will not go away because without it mankind would devour one another in the pursuit of self.
It is evident that health care in America, is both broken and controversial. It is a point of political contention and the darling of ideological debate. It is argued, debated, condemned, heralded, compared, filibustered, lobbied, proposed, broken down, glued together and addressed, but, it refuses to be fixed. It is the humpty dumpty of political absurdity. It had a great fall and can not be put back together again. It is buried in the mud of partisan propaganda and the rains of resolution can not wash the prejudice or the stubbornness from the heart of a self inflicted disease.
Today Americans drink from a glass of two opposing poisons, liberalism on the left and conservatism on the right and neither is fixed on introducing solution. Both would rather drink the poison and die from it, than let the opposition garner credit for a remedy. Political parties today aren't looking for remedy; They are looking for poisons more potent, to introduce to an adversary who is himself looking to find it first.
Political ideology today has risen in America to manipulate the whole of our pathetic discourse. Where idea was once reserved for the nobility of individual enterprise, today it is extracted from the babble of entertainment which disguises itself as the evening news. Our thinking has been reduced to the regurgitated opinions of talk show gurus, political pundits and media analyst who tell us what to think. They stir the heart with ideas, meant to foster division, implant distrust, seed separation and manufacture drama. They clothe their position in just enough truth to sell us a medicine, purported to cure a disease which they promise us is in the coming. They tell us that anyone with an opposing belief is contagious, that anyone who disagrees is a threat to America and that they, themselves, will lead us to the promised land.
America has become an angry nation separated by ideology, divided into teams, marching beneath banners painted red and blue. Our opinions are no longer the labor of individual thought because now we can simply subscribe to pre packaged propaganda espoused by the team of our choice.We have become an angry people and not because of what anyone has done to us, but because the other team won't drink the prescribed poison. The other team dares another view. They have the audacity to think different than us. We have become a land where citizens are segregated by a new and more radical prejudice; We simply dislike anyone not on our team. Red and blue has risen in place of right and wrong. We have inherited the fruit of poisoned vineyards planted on our behalf and given to us as drink in daily doses. We have become too intoxicated to recognize the difference between thinking and drinking.
It is a puppet show produced by conservative and liberal puppeteers, drunk with anger and they tell us that we should be angry too, who we should be angry with and why we should be angry. Keeping us angry is efficient fuel. They enlist angry legions from the contaminated vineyards which they themselves have planted sending them out under a banner of a new and improved patriotism.They send them marching out to a new horizon leading nowhere. It isn't meant to lead anyone anywhere. It is meant to spread seed from the vineyard and what is the seed? The seed is fear. Fear of one another, fear that the end is just around the corner, fear that once again the sky is falling and all because the other team doesn't love America and apple pie. Opposing ideas are not simply different, they are dangerous and those that hold them are themselves dangerous.
Wherever we stand and whatever we think, poured into a glass for us to drink,
Poisoned puppets who drink the fear, prepared for them, by the puppeteer.
Leo Tolstoy noted long ago "To sin is human business, but to justify our sin is devilish."
When the strings of our thinking are manipulated by puppeteers who spin right from wrong and weave wrong from right with such proficiency, the intoxicated puppets dance, freed at last from the constraints of having to learn how to dance for themselves. They have no need to justify their sin, the puppeteers have come to do it for them. How does one tout the virtues of individualism while regurgitating the angry propaganda harvested from a poisoned vineyard?
Nearly two hundred years ago, in answer to such an ill, Edmond Burke said " I do not let my lawyer tell me what to do, because reason, humanity and conscience always tell me, " what I ought to do." And how do we know what we ought to do? Because there is a voice that whispers to the hearts of men. It was planted there by someone more concerned about our hearts than we ourselves.
Right is not the light of either party. Agenda is the light which guides them both and it doesn't matter which way their going so long as its in the opposite direction of their enemy. Both beg light from the shadows, reflecting a portion of the light in order to advance their own sense of right. Right isn't the property of ideology. Individuals are not in need of gurus to interpret right. It is embedded within the individual, by someone higher, asking something deeper, begging something greater from the place in which " the thing we ought to do" was forever planted.
"Only a humanity, where death has become as indifferent as it's members, that is itself dead, can inflict it administratively, on innumerable people."Theodor Odorno.
The political ideology of a great nation should be shaped by it's view of humanity. Shaped by the principles which birthed its coming. We are in danger of doing the opposite. Our humanity is being shaped by our ideology, by teams and if principles get in the way, we find solace in the illusion that we are right because the party says that we are right, we have taken one for the team, we have towed the ideological line. Our puppeteers have supplanted the annoying whisper with a new and improved voice and you can hear it every evening at six o'clock.
" Be good to the whites, they need us, in order to find their humanity". Desmond Tutu.
If we loose our humanity in a quest to preserve estate and economy, then "the thing we ought to do" will perish in the shadow of who "we used to be." We used to be a land of neighbors where different ideas brought us comfort, because as Americans, we trusted such differences would show us, as a people, " the thing we ought to do." Wealth is the residue, the by product that remains when we have exhausted every right within us. It isn't measured by acquisition of things or defined by the right team. It is measured by the acquisition of things which will not perish from the hearts of men. Things which will endure the our final purging. From a willingness to disperse a portion of that acquisition from a blessing bestowed, not from the labor of our hand, but from the principle planted in our hearts that a new nation would be founded on "things that men should do to one another".
I do not care how much it cost. This is my only child. I'm asking you to save her life and I will find a way to pay the bill." Uninsured Harrison Everett and the father of an American tragedy.
The debate surrounding health care in America revolves around the cost of it's provision to all Americans. The cost admittedly, will be monumental, but, it will pale in comparison to the loss of our humanity if we don't care about our neighbors. The puppeteer will shout and tell us "what we should", the lawyer will shout and tell us " what we can", but an inner voice will whisper in the midst of all the shouting "what we ought". "What we ought" is dying in America because ideology's only business is recruitment. They don't want to fix anything, they simply want to enlist enough puppets to propel the cause of a team.
I do not presume a remedy to the ills of health care in America. I am more concerned that our humanity is being influenced by economy rather than morality. That our hearts harden to one another out of a desperation to advance individual kingdoms. Given the cost of health care in America, we will face a coming dilemma; Either we will fill our coffers with individual gain or we will give from them to sustain a moral wealth that has never been for sale. Teams will never fix America. That is and always will be, the responsibility of a collective people who hear the whisper " a new country will emerge from the blight of slavery, that henceforth, what men ought to do to one another will shape the birth of a new nation".
Today we are in danger of supplanting the whisper because we are listening to new and improved voices. We have granted the puppeteers the privilege of defining right and wrong. Before we were ever republican or democrat we were a people deprived of the things men ought to do for one another. We birthed a nation conceived in the principle that the things men ought to do would become our guiding light.
The thing we "ought to do" will always cost us more than what we have. That is the very thing that makes it priceless and the very thing that made, "America the beautiful." Individual wealth isn't the reward we get from doing "the thing we ought to do" it is the cost. It is extracted from an abundance given to us in response to being guided by a principle. It isn't the prize. It is a payment charged in return for riches bestowed upon a nation committed to being guided by a whisper. In response to a collective people guided not by the weight of individual gain but by the principle " this is what men ought to do to one another". Contrary to what the new and improved voices tell us, abundance rains upon "we the people" because "we the people" committed to doing the things men ought to do to one another.
Our principles were once clothed in a moral fabric. When we shed that fabric, we shed our guiding light.
If we listen we will hear the whisper, it will not go away, but not to worry. If we don't like what it is saying, there is a new and improved voice. It will air at six o'clock and I promise you, you can find whatever it is you want to hear.