Skip to main content

We Live in an Era of Fraud in America

The good life was once a cozy, warm and safe existence. It stood against harsh words, mean acts, manipulation and violence. It was a world of benevolence where acts of fairness, compassion and love were incubated then birthed. But does it exist anymore? Is it in our day nothing but naïve blather; a way for losers to live?

Most of us want a good life for our children. In preparation for that we want to guard them against the cruelties of life, against dishonesty and exploitation, against the jeers of the hateful and the trickery of the evil, against being hoaxed and suckered; to insulate them from heartlessness, brutality, mockery and spite. We want to teach them to live above this and be respectable citizens.

But for some odious reason it seems that over and again that is a naïve approach to life for our children and for ourselves. The reality, we’re told, is to learn to fight, to mistrust people, to see through the lies that are always out there, to learn the ways of getting around the rules, to never be afraid to take from others even if it doesn’t feel right even if it’s not right, to discount conscience and that inner sense of morality and operate instead on the baser instincts of selfish urges, dominance, control, force.

The real purpose of life is not service but self-indulgence, not building a better world but using the world for your own pleasure and profit, not getting involved in the needs of others but focused instead on meeting only your own needs.

That, we’re told in society, and it’s being demonstrated every day, is the way to succeed. That’s how we survive in life. It’s not, we are told, a pitiful, sheltered, good life we need; it’s a life of hard boiled aggression, the stamina of a well fed ego, and fearlessly pushing our way around others in order to get ahead. That’s the winning life.

In the movie, “The Big Short,” based on Michael Lewis’s stunning book by the same title, the global financial crisis of 2008 is jarringly exposed and explained. The U.S. and other large economies were quivering on a rickety foundation of subprime mortgages and that foundation was about to collapse. In the movie, we see based on real facts, that the risk to financial peril worldwide was discovered not by bank executives or Treasury officials or even government regulators but by a handful of savvy, cunning Wall Street financiers who saw the danger coming and bet against what was being hyped as perfectly safe transactions. Though they knew what they were doing was unethical and illegal, they did it anyway and made fortunes for themselves. One of the characters, a hedge fund founder actually agonizing over what was going on says at one point in all the chaos, “We live in an era of fraud in America. Not just in banking, but in government, education, religion, food, even baseball. What bothers me isn’t that fraud is not nice. Or that fraud is mean. For fifteen thousand years, fraud and short sighted thinking have never, ever worked. Not once. Eventually, you get caught, things go south. When the hell did we forget all that? I thought we were better than that?”

It is a lesson we seem to ignore and never learn.

Today’s political climate fosters this attitude of impudence, this cocky approach to life that is so full of itself, so grossly predatory, so barren of gentleness, elegance, principles, tenderness and love. Those things are scoffed at in the arena of unyielding appetite and consumption.

What kind of a country do we really want? That seems lost on most of us. We are so consumed with winning, with making sure our side claims the White House that we have stopped caring about what these candidates are actually offering.

The current Congress has failed us. Thoroughly and completely. The Republican members decided the day President Obama stepped in the Oval Office that they would not cooperate with him on anything. It was not a matter of conscience or a demand for high standards that motivated them. It was unvarnished racism. It was cold revenge for having been beaten by Democrats. It was calculated sabotage meant to deny the president any kind of meaningful legacy.

That is an approach to life that is deadening. It destroys the unity of a nation. It pits one group against another and creates hostile merciless disputes and clashes. It opens old wounds of prejudice and rancor and leaves people weakened and unsound.

Will our next president have the character and the will to demonstrate a better way? Or will the next president just continue the same old conflicts keeping us mired in all of this toxic unwholesomeness?

Must we be burdened with having to wait for a final dooming accounting? Will nothing change until our leaders like those guys in “The Big Short,” filthy with cash, hate themselves for the beasts they had become, conspirators in the crushing of so many lives? Or will we as a people demand a president and Congress who are in possession of a healthy intellect, the courage of conscience, an engaging sense of humor, an honest respect for diversity, an actual respect for people, and the ability to work with one another for the good of all Americans as competent human beings ought to do?


© 2016 Timothy Moody  

Popular posts from this blog

The Light in the Faces of Our Incredible Human Family

National Geographic Journalist Paul Salopek is walking across the world on foot to trace the pathways of the first humans who wandered out of Africa in the Stone Age to claim the earth as theirs. His journey will cover 21,000 miles and is estimated to take 10 years. He is four years into his massive expedition and already he has discovered that humanity is mostly kind and generous, welcoming and caring, hard-working and disciplined.
I watched a brief piece about Salopek’s journey on the PBS News Hour this week. I have included a link below.
What is extraordinary about his adventure is his realization that in spite of all the wars and turmoil across the globe, he has learned that “The world is an incredibly hospitable place.” In following the ancient trade route called “The Silk Road,” Salopek has gotten to know a variety of people young and old. And though he has so far encountered a few dangerous situations where he had his water supply stolen, was once ambushed by raiders, and was sho…

Our National Lack of Self-esteem

There is a brokenness in our society, a pervasive moral collapse, a reckless disregard for community, neighborliness, courtesy, and compassion.
Our government leads by this example. Both parties are incompetent to guide us into a more responsible living, into a serviceable structure of humanity. Our leaders are dominated by greedy oligarchs who don’t just want more, they want everything, even if it costs our society its dignity, its soul, even its future.
What is on display here daily is a wretched lack of self-esteem. The loss now influences all of us. We’re all affected in ways that keep us shamed by our actions.
When we feel powerless, aimless, without any higher goals than the accumulation of things and the momentary thrill, we then mute our intelligence. We live by raw emotions—anger, appetite, urges. We don’t think, we don’t consider, we merely react. We push. We disregard. We threaten. We act out. And we fail.
Self-esteem is a learned process. It builds on genuine successes that ar…

Is the Soul Solid, like Iron?

Mary Oliver has a beautiful little poem in which she asks:

“Is the soul solid, like iron?
or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?”

It is both.

The soul, we are told by philosophers, theologians, and mystics, is our essence, the permanence of our true self. It is that part of us that lives beyond death. Or so we are taught by religion. Where exactly the soul exists beyond that, has of course, been long debated.

There are times in life when something deep within us is, as Mary Oliver says, solid as iron and we operate out of some sense of aliveness, confidence, and inner strength. It may be fleeting, but there when needed; or it may carry us through long periods of endurance when we build a sturdy self, confident and capable of our abilities and talents.

This is the work of the soul. This is a part of our spiritual development. This is what enables us to believe there are forces in life, loving and generous and mystical, that nurture and compel us tow…