It has been slightly more than a year since I posted this on our "Extended Family Blog," but with the victory of the Republican's "41st" senator in the same week that the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the most egregiously game-changing political decision in a century, this little observation seems alarmingly prophetic. Check it out to see how far we haven't come!
I am a hopeful cynic. He is, after all, just a politician, and even if his heart and his mind are in the right place—which, I believe, they are—the irrational ideologies that have replaced reason and human feeling are so deeply entrenched that it may take several generations to change our course. Obviously, it is much easier to decimate and destroy than to repair and restore. The last 8 years (and much of the last 30) have been bent on destroying principles of fairness, justice, equality, peace, and individual freedom while championing greed, corruption, violence, and a gleeful dismantling of the social safety net. It seems to be a complete perversion of Emerson's "Self Reliance": privilege and power rig the system ("pay to play" legislatures and courts defend corporate machinations at the expense of workers and consumers); then the privileged and the powerful demand to be left alone to plunder (aka deregulation and "free markets"); at the same time, those who work hard their whole lives to earn what some CEO makes in a month can have it squeezed away from them by increased health and energy costs, corporate reneging on pensions and benefits, and market manipulation and fraud. What is worse, media consolidation and deregulation has allowed this "bill of goods" to be sold as"Gospel" and to become established wisdom.
I remain skeptically hopeful that we can slowly move to a renewed vision of social progress and freedom and a new definition of Americanism that replaces "Because we can" with "Because it's right." As Thoreau said, "I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government." He also said, "It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience." By the same token, a society of conscientious people is a society with a conscience. I still believe that such a vision can be accomplished, but it will be a long, hard road. Perhaps President Obama can help us begin the journey. We will leave our little lights on for a while yet.