Is there a saint, alive or dead, who wasn’t a prophet in diagnosing the dire circumstance of their day? They knew there was no added benefit from ever more austere methods to deal with a present severity for the least? Even flagellants sought to tame personal temptations for the sake of others.
When faced with a great lack of substance, any attempt to reverse the lack by intentionally reducing what there is already too little of will only make matters worse.
Poverty (material, spiritual, relational) is always tied to a few always-open-mawed individuals storing communal wealth in their ever-larger barns. A competition for consumptive living cannot but steal livelihood from a multitude. When less than 1% of the population controls more than 90% of the available wealth, every percentage point of gain represents an increasing number of those impressed into one form of slavery or another – poverty.
Prophet and Saint see that a lack of generosity is directly implicated in every crisis of austerity. Bread and circuses can only patch the basic problem of a blindness to what constitutes common-good or general-welfare. When the life of any other is considered irrelevant or of no account, it means everyone is in for an even rougher ride – no amount of stored wealth will protect against putting every gene pool at risk and require a wider definition of family than an interlocking directorate of corporate boards.
In days of disaster and insufficiency, the only avenues available to a better-lived future are generosity, restitution, and empathy. Wealth adds no moral or ethical value to life. Storing resources away for the benefit of a bragging right eventually leads everyone to a beggar’s life.
With increasing dismay, I still hear commentators suggesting that Republican leadership still have time to hint that the losing candidate for President will have one despicable pardon too many or any of numerous ways he will burden the future governance of the nation.
They have been well-trained. When you see others eviscerated for any deviance, it is easy to overvalue your own guts by bowing low. Even if a majority eventually found enough solid footing to raise a discouraging word, the real need is for action to preclude a deepening disaster.
Too much time has passed. The degree of damage is at such a level it is difficult to know how stopping now changes much.
While an argument can be made that right action is always right, we are in no moral position to assert it. Take a look at the history of deals in protecting people and places. If we can make things worse by playing off present economic gain against future benefit, we have consistently done so. There is no credible evidence that this is still not the case. We seem to enjoy fooling ourselves into thinking a corner has been turned. Time and again, it has been proved false.
There ever has only been the putting of hand to the struggle or honoring our ancestors’ best intentions and providing the best platform for our descendants to flourish. Even this worthy goal faces the mutability of time. Mutation and death will have more lasting presence and effect.
Nothing but removal from office (which would make him even more of a whining martyr) and being held accountable (unfortunately, narcissists cannot accept losing, it only energizes them) is constitutionally available.
On the bright side, there is little to recommend visiting a DJT Presidential Library to so many Lost Causes (even though they will claim more visitors per year than all the other Presidential Libraries combined). At best, it will document the primordial Id carefully taught to be insatiable.
How does the cult of Donald Trump differ from the cult of Democracy? The cult of Capitalism and other constrictions could also be added to the initial question.
As might be suspected, a cult’s dynamic is basically the same regardless of its central focus. This would include the cults of Family and Friends.
At stake is whether participation in a cult can be avoided (probably not) and how an awareness of our cultic participation might shift enough to allow a next insight/revelation into life and the lives with whom we are in cahoots.
One model of breaking beyond the categories of a particular cult is an investigation of wilderness and loneliness. A cult has a difficult time with any wild space beyond its borders. It declares everything to be within its constructs. Cults, likewise, require standardized and self-confirming behavior of meeting specific behavioral requirements. If anyone steps beyond these rituals, it is as if they had been exiled in place. Shunning is powerful within a cult and is a basic control mechanism. Fear of having no context, no place, rises to the same stunned experience as attempting to recognize the possibility of there being no weather (as in, even a tornado is better than no weather at all).
This might be the place to look at one way to open a window on cultish behavior we participate in—“We celebrate both our commonalities and differences, because if we had nothing in common we could not communicate, and if we had everything in common, we would have nothing to say.” (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to Pope Benedict XVI)
Reading about “prooftexting”, I was amused to find attempts to prove/persuade about the Bible’s “divine” origin described as “theologically retrograde.” The authors contrast this with “profound theology.”
Given the increased number of people who pay no attention to the Bible, it may be time to apply that label of moving in a rearward direction to an Economy, Corporation, Politics, and Educational Theory. The Military is always liable to be preparing to fight the last war and coming up short when a new iteration comes along—they are a warning to all other arenas in life that rise to claim an ascendancy. In a zero-sum, winner-takes-all setting, pride is always retrograde—moving toward a fall, destruction.
Retrograde Economics—uses people as expendable resources to keep power limited to a ruling few.
Retrograde Corporations—takes that up a notch as it claims a right to be a person and to extend that right to being first among equals.
Retrograde Politics—is forever pacifying people and messing with their minds, so they support policies against both their short and long-term interests.
Retrograde Education—teaches to one authorized test or another while constraining thought into underground silos that have no visionary component.
It appears there is no human construct exempt from a retrograde expression of any initial best intention. I’m interested in what additional categories the term “retrograde” might apply. Retrograde Parenting? Disease Prevention? Environment Protection? Grammar Rules? Scientific Standards? …?
As predictable as it was, the last four years have been spent inside a fantasy that first creates a crisis and then resolving it in the most unlikely fashion – starting another crisis on top of it. Whenever this sort of process comes to an end, it is like the downfall of any pyramid scheme where the participants and enablers are all aught in the aftermath of a created crisis without even a perverted resolution. A massive loss of life, institutional integrity, economy, and cyber hacks will all echo on and on.
While all this was predictable (in general), each specific crisis was unique and worthy of an Ignoble Prize.
Without knowing the specific way out of a crisis of a loser losing bigly, the following is still in the running to end on a winning note.
— At the last minute, the labeled loser decides to attend his nemesis’s inauguration, who holds the opposite values. At a critical moment, the outgoing loser is caught on film, slowly rolling a grenade toward the tableau of Chief Justice, Hated Nemesis, and Bible Toter.
This is followed by said loser wobbling into a launch that will put him on top of the grenade, which goes off. In one fell swoop, there are no consequences to face, and he becomes the hero of this and every botched resolution — Savior of the very Democracy he never understood —
Of course, the pull of sheer Mammon cannot be underestimated. It cannot be denied that it is more likely there will be a riding off into a golden sunset to live and cause a next crisis.
There is still time to place your bet on the events of January 20, 2021.
This is a season for looking for signs – stars, candles, and vaccines. Here’s a sign for where we are and why a next sign of light is looked for, whether at the end of a tunnel or (more revolutionarily) now –
Come, well-qualified buyers, and receive $6,000 off the MSP, plus a benefit of 0% interest. We’ll even throw in a turkey for your holiday feast!
Yes, a sign. But not one of light. This is a sign of the rich getting richer and the poor, poorer. Those in need of assistance are specifically not invited.
People are about to be evicted because of the results of the economic consequences of a pandemic, and they are teased with visions of new-SUV sugar plums and credit-score-boosts (because of more credit-card-debt) fairies.
Is there anyone still left standing who can envision the consequences of such a multitude of cold and hungry people? I’m presuming not. Otherwise, some changes would be made, so we don’t hollow out a promised “general welfare” common good, with an even more common coal-in-a-stocking (with a hole in the toe).
The need for a sign today is no less than previous episodes of oppressive occupation (political, military, or disease).
Progress is not a sign. It dawns too slowly and grudgingly. Its benefit is in too dainty an incremental improvement.
A Radical Liberation sign is needed far beyond what can be found in a bilateral compromise with miserly curmudgeons.
Sign something different, or don’t bother signaling a sign at all.