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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where We Are Now

Several people have written about what causes the death of a republic in general, and our republic specifically. More than a few years ago, historian Chalmers Johnson associated the pursuit of empire with the death of a republic. He noted how with Roman Empire, the pursuit and maintenance of its empire costed Rome its Republic. He then pointed out the Great Britain decided to forego the keeping of its empire in order to hold on to its Republic. He then brought up the question of what America will choose seeing that it too has an empire.

Chris Hedges just wrote an article about the death of a republic (click here for the article). He was referring to the U.S. and he listed the signs that indicate our republic's demise. He attributes that death to ambitious men who stealthily seize power by using democratic process and provide the illusion that those processes still work. While politicians work to provide the facade of a republic, Hedges sees corporations that have bought control of the government as the main culprit.

Paul Krugman also just wrote an article on how republics die (click here for the article). Krugman sees career politicians as being the ones who are attacking our republic. Unlike Hedges, he does not believe that our republic is dead. However, he does not think that, our republic is getting better and thus is ready to go for a walk.

Who is right about the identity of those who are destroying the Republic? My guess is that all three are partially correct. The mistake for each of them is that the did not consider that other parties are also guilty with the ones they've identified.

But perhaps there is one more conspirator who is working to end our republic. That conspirator is us, the American people. How can the rest of us be guilty too? Think about it. We don't vote on issues that determine the health of our republic; we vote on financial issues.  We vote for those who will provide jobs and promise new prosperity. We vote for those who promise not to interfere with our pursuit of happiness especially when that pursuit includes accumulating as much wealth as possible.

Martin Luther King Jr. described today's society perfectly when speaking out against the Vietnam War in 1967. That is right; in 1967, he described the American society of 2017. How is that possible? Could he look into the future to see what we would become? No he didn't. Rather, we have not changed from how he described American society in 1967. How did he describe us? He said the following (click here for source):

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

King's comment cuts across the Marxist-Capitalist divide--and I say that as a person who leans toward Marxism. For both systems promise some sort of utopia based on materialism. And for as long as we pursue a materialistic utopia, we will condemn ourselves to suffer the evils that King warned against. For as long as we count gadgets, profits, and property rights as being more important than people, we will suffer from racism, materialism, and militarism. Why? Because for as long as things are more important than people, we will compete for the obtaining and securing of these things in groups. And our group participation in that competition lends itself to tribalism. And tribalism blinds us from valuing others and seeing the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. We might also add what the Scriptures say about the love of money (click here for the reference).

The election of Trump and how people voted showed that too many of us put a higher priority on things than people. That is most evident in the case of Trump voters as he promised to bring back American prosperity to those who lost their portion of it. Those Trump supporters did not question Trump's promises or care to ask about the costs of Trump's proposals. For such questions could wake them up from their daydreaming about the future. So they focused solely on the return of some glorious past. And though Hillary offered more fringe benefits to a wider audience than Trump, she and many of her fellow Democrats had been working to ensure that people with wealth would be the primary beneficiaries of their policies. After all, that what Obamacare was all about.

In essence, Chalmers, Hedges, and Krugman are all correct regarding the identity of the ones who is killing our republic. They are all correct but not exclusively so. Those who pursue empires, those who have significant wealth but never have enough, and career politicians are all seeking to finish off our republic. And while we are more concerned with things than with people, then we have joined them as being enemies of any republic because we have shown ourselves to be no different than those who continually pursue more wealth and power. For as long as we vote for those who care more about prosperity than about those who are less fortunate, we show ourselves to be thing-oriented. And for as long as we vote for those who for those who care more about generating more wealth than about how we can share and work with each other, we plead guilty to being thing-oriented. And for as long as we are thing-oriented, not only will we suffer the fate described by King, we will be handing over the keys of our republic to those who promise prosperity for us but deliver wealth and power for only chosen few.

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