There are forces in society today that keep luring us into some kind of primitive, relic thinking; thinking that is stripped of compassion and decency and thrives only on some prehistoric brutal mode of survival. It is thinking that is soaking in psychologically damaging fear. It fills us with paranoid dread and suspicion. In this thinking we forget how to care about others. We are too busy building some safe zone for ourselves, some small bubble of existence that keeps out all the bad things and all the bad people. It is thinking that shrivels and diminishes us into people almost unrecognizably human.
Hate radio is a part of these forces; voices dripping with the most crude, vicious hateful stuff, meant to divide us from our better thoughts and acts and from one another. So are horribly biased TV pundits who cash in on scaring people, who make up outrageous lies for the sheer pleasure of ratings and big salaries. Bogus politicians who are basically just puppets with financial strings, pulled by the elite wealthy and told what to do that will further enrich the already rich, are a part of these forces. Theologically shallow ministers who have completely sold out to some wild god of money and greed, who have lost all sense of anything sacred, who live in obscene arrogance and fraudulency, are certainly among the dark forces luring us. There are others.
We have stopped thinking intelligently in this country. And it is turning us into something ugly as a nation. We are being defined by these consumptive forces and by those who allow them.
I’m convinced it is not who we really are. It is not the majority of us. But far too many are succumbing to the dark influences. Far too many have grabbed on to the relic thinking and now order their lives by it. And this thinking is too often legitimized by the courts, by the police, by the church and the media, by talk show hosts and television pundits and presidential candidates, who condone, even participate in, and perpetuate these forces.
The appeal today to withdraw from real life, to be always terrified of people different from us, to simply dismiss the hurting and people in need, is nothing but a choice to ignore the pain around us. And that pain is real and it is palpable.
A single mother barely making enough money at a minimum wage job to keep food on the table needs help with health screenings and checkups. She can’t afford a primary care physician. She can’t just go fill up a shopping cart full of groceries whenever she wants. Food stamps help her feed her children. Why is she demonized for that? What are we afraid of by having a society that helps her?
Gay couples that have been together for years, faithful and loving to each other, wanting to be married and enjoy all the benefits that come with legal marriage. Why, for so many dreary years, were we afraid of allowing them to have that? What kind of scandalous fear made us want to deny them their human feelings and the desire to be married? What keeps all of us from celebrating their love and devotion even now; their human right to be affirmed in their marriage?
We are still stunted by our racism in this country. Too many of us are consumed by some primordial force that seethes with acrimony toward anyone that is not white. What is that? How immature do we have to remain before we openly accept all people of all races and cultures as actual human beings? The barbaric and just inhuman treatment of so many blacks and Hispanics by whites today is an insult to intelligence. Not everyone does it. Not even most do it. But far too many today have dropped all limits to reason and to their own humanity and have given in to forces of heartlessness displayed in undisguised bigotry. And it humiliates us as a nation.
These malicious forces also frighten us into wars. They touch a long held presumptuousness in us that we are better than anyone else in the world; that we deserve to rule the universe. These foreboding influences are meant to convince us we’ll lose our power, our freedoms, if we are not aggressively parading our strength to other nations. And these damning fears we decide to own cause us then to take the lives of untold numbers of innocent people, destroy their cities and their cultures, leave them ruined and defenseless. And in doing this we also take the lives of our own American kids, sent off to battle some crummy notion of patriotism that reeks of capitalist greed and the cowardice of preening politicians safe in their cushy offices. And somehow we justify all of this chaos and murder with the flimsiest excuses created by our fears.
One of the fundamental passages from childhood into adulthood is the process of learning to share. But the dark forces of fear today lead us into an abysmal regression back in to some infantile selfishness. We grab and clutch and whine about what is ours. We pout, we cry, we scream because the government uses our tax dollars to help others. These savage forces in us resent helping veterans, the elderly, the poor and disenfranchised, the disabled, the addicted, and the mentally unbalanced. Our selfishness claims they don’t deserve what we have worked to get. And that right there is relic thinking. It is prehistoric thinking focused on the crudest urges of survival, stinginess, and self-worship.
Most of us are better than any of this. Most of us long ago found a sense of life that brings us meaning and joy and love. Most of us in this country do not want any part of a philosophy of society that offers no glory to the courageous and the generous, that has no responsibility to the hurting, that gives no special rights to those held down unjustly, and that refuses an intrinsic and inalienable merit for goodness and decency. Most of us have said no to the forces of fear and paranoia and greed and hate.
We are the real America.
© 2015 Timothy Moody