Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Overturned Order of Our Souls

“The blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it has overturned
The order of the soul.”

~ Leonard Cohen, Canadian Poet/Novelist

I am bewildered by the discord in our world but mostly the kind that exists in our own country.

There is a whirling raging sickness within us, a deep and troubling emotional and spiritual dysfunction that separates us from any real unity as a nation. 

It is a blizzard of some kind, some terrible inner storm within so many of us, that, as Cohen so aptly puts it, has overturned the order  of the soul.  The soul of America.  And the souls of many of us who say we love our country but never seem to show it.

I have trouble understanding all of the hate and just viciousness towards President Obama.  It’s not just political differences.  It’s not mostly about his policies.  It’s much deeper than that.  People keep saying it’s not about race; but that is a huge component of it.  It really is.  And it’s dishonest when so many of his critics and haters say it isn’t. 

It also seems to be about winning and losing at all costs.  Look at Lance Armstrong.  What a disgrace he is to himself and to his sport and to his country.  He is a mirror of our national disorder of the soul.  There aren’t any gracious, noble losers anymore.  Athletics, business, the workplace, politics, even religion used to be not only about triumph and finishing first and succeeding and doing good, but about accepting that you or your team or your work group or your political party lost, or that you might be wrong about some things, and dealing with it like a champion, like a mature adult and a responsible person.  I grew up with that philosophy as a kid playing sports in school.  We had some damn tough coaches who pounded winning into us.  But they also taught us how to keep our heads up after a loss and how to honestly respect and praise those who fairly defeated us.  I had demanding teachers and professors who forced me to think and take my education seriously and to achieve excellence.  But I can’t remember any of them belittling me when I didn’t or telling me to cheat and fake it and bully my way into some favorable outcome.

Nowhere is our national disordered soul more obvious than in our politics.  Politics has become a filthy, nasty business.  It reeks with rude pettiness, unbridled corruption, childish bickering, and the worst kind of power playing ruthlessness.  Many in Congress have no respect for the office of the President.  It’s all a game of seeing who can bully their way into power and stay there.  It’s about making crafty, questionable deals with treacherous lobbyists representing the greed of huge corporations and banks without the slightest interest in how those deals might affect the rest of the country.   And it’s about this, too: Many Congressmen model a sneering contempt for President Obama that is then copied by constituents and many in the country who are vulnerable to hating a black Democratic president.

We can deny that all we want.  But the truth stares us in the face and mocks our flimsy protests to the contrary.
There is a blizzard within our national life and it has overturned the order of the soul within far too many of us.

It has been said that in those old pioneer days whenever a blizzard was within sight, the farmers on the Great Plains would run a rope from the backdoor of the house to the barn.  Their work had to go on even in the midst of the danger and chaos of some harsh winter. But they had to take precautions. They were well aware of neighbors and others who had wandered off and were left to freeze to death because they lost all sense of direction in the midst of some fierce whiteout.  There they were in their own backyard a short distance from safety but became blinded and lost and unable to find their way home.

We seem to have lost in this country the common sense to anchor ourselves to truths and values that would keep us safe when great inner turmoil blizzards its way across our national landscape.  There is no longer a rope of safety to guide us home.  We remain wanderers, caught in the midst of blinding hatred and discord.  Away from the warmth of caring relationships, noble character, bravely facing the hard realities of life with reason and discipline, intelligently accepting our vast diversity, we stumble in the cold.  The order of our souls is overturned and we are freezing to death.

© 2013 Timothy Moody

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