In general, but not in particular, because there are many opposite examples, but generally speaking, we are a nation of lazy, greedy citizens.
Our laziness resides in the fact that we continue, year after drubbing year, to tolerate a Congress that is 98% corrupt and in the pockets of huge corporations, including Wall Street banks and the giant tech companies, not to mention the entire network of media communications.
Our indifference to the blathering incompetence and the arrogant disregard of representative government by so many senators and House members in both parties is staggering. That we as a people allow this says something alarming about our character.
Leo Tolstoy, the brilliant Russian novelist, once wrote in one of his many essays, “If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”
And if we were to take to heart that wise advice, what would we see? A society in crisis.
Because of technology, especially the proliferation of the smartphone and social media, we have lost ourselves in a haze of distractions. We don’t seem to care that our nation is not producing anything. Our greatest products are financial—stocks, derivatives, commodities—investments in anything and everything other than our own infrastructure, our own people, our own future.
Our streets, bridges, and freeways are crumbling while billions of dollars are poured into more high-rise condos, huge office complexes, and corporate towers. Beyond that, billions of tax dollars fund a defense budget that climbs into the stratosphere, what poet Wendell Berry calls “another transaction in the commerce of violence.”
We are hopelessly divided as a people, refusing to be coaxed into cooperation. We are militarized. We are angry. We are spiritually empty and mindlessly disarranged.
Do we not see this?
Apathy cultivates ignorance, and unless we care about the state of our nation, the gobbling up of our resources by the ravenous greed of those now running the country, then we are destined for misery and failure.
Call this whatever you choose, but sin, bad behavior, wrongdoing, evil, is not original in us from birth. It is originated by us in our lifetime. It is not our nature to be self-destructive. We have accepted that as our fate by the misguided and the manipulative and it may one day end us if we continue to believe it. We are always at the mercy of our choices. And we can do better if we want to, if we decide to. We’re not required to live this way because of some moral flaw. If this is our karma then it’s the result of our own choices.
Novelist Raphael Lafferty has written, “To you who are scattered and broken, gather again and mend. Rebuild always, and again I say rebuild. Renew the face of the earth. It is a loved face, but now it is covered with the webs of tired spiders.”
I have no easy answers. I am momentarily at a loss for how we rebuild what is broken and scattered. But I do know it can be done, and that we must as a nation find ways to begin it now. And I think it starts by getting out of our laziness and greed. It’s our choice.
© 2018 Timothy Moody