We were taught that it was good to work hard, and that hard work was good. Which, as originally offered by faith traditions of every stripe, it certainly was. And though those who sailed to a new land to practice their faith may have been pure of heart in this regard, we as a nation have lost our way.
Certainly, we Americans bought into the narrative, and many surely did sacrifice to expand (rightly or wrongly) and build this nation of ours. “We” told ourselves that we out worked those of other nations, and were then, by our work ethic, better than other nations and cultures. All the while ignoring the facts of our competitive advantages as a nation, which were plentiful. First and foremost, were the four hundred years of free labor obtained by enslaving millions of Africans. Even free states benefited from the lower cost of materials to feed their northern plants, in a land full of rivers. And in a doctrine of ideological, cultural and racial superiority, they displaced nations of indigenous people who lived in harmony with the land. This “Manifest Destiny” was just another step away from the true path of any loving faith.
Thus, throughout much of this nation’s history, we’ve told ourselves whatever lie we needed to hear, to justify whatever vile act “we” deemed necessary to enrich ourselves and expand “our” territory. And we codified those lies in history books (many authored by the Daughters of the Confederacy), teaching the same lies to our children and to generations yet unborn.
Still, in the mid-1980’s there was a subtle, yet perilous shift in our national narrative. During the Reagan years, no longer would we simply adhere to the doctrine that “work is good”, but rather we became a nation which equated wealth with virtue. The wealthy had earned their wealth through the virtue of hard work. Unlike the “Robber Barons” of the turn of the century who were known by all to have gained their wealth unscrupulously, the modern-day ultra-wealthy were deemed virtuous regardless of how they may have gained their wealth. Thus, the unspoken messaging was indeed that “Greed is Good”.
Which brings us to the current age in which we are so very protective of the ultra-rich. We say that they “should” be able to enjoy the wealth that they earned, without anyone’s help. And certainly, whether fairly gained or not, if they are first generation wealthy, they played a pivotal role in obtaining that wealth. And still the more conscious among them would surely concede the role that the “State”, being all of us, played in their prosperity. The roads, docks and airports paid for by fellow tax-payers, surely facilitated the literal path to their success. The workers they hired, at the very least were educated from grades one through twelve through the property and state taxes paid by their fellow citizens. And obviously, they’ve benefited from socialist programs like police protection, fire and rescues services, postal carriers and the mightiest military in the world, just to name a few.
And now we find ourselves in the place where we’re actually discussing the merits of sacrificing the elderly and sick, mostly because we don’t want to be uncomfortable for a few months, and for those in the investment class, for the benefit of our stock portfolios. This is literally in contrast with what we’ve seen in every other country into which this virus has found its way.
And though I will admit that I’m no fan of the current president, I see him as more of a symptom, rather than the actual disease. We’re a soul sick nation which, in the process of glorifying capitalism, has cut off its nose to spite its face. Despite our conditioning it’s a simple truth of human kind’s rise to the top of the food chain, that working collectively for the common good is not a sin; in fact, it’s a virtue. Bottom line, dogmatic adherence to either capitalism, socialism or any -ism, is the real evil. The Universe does not allow us such a lazy existence.
As things stand now, we’ve elevated unbridled capitalism the level of a deity which must be worshiped. We’ve become a congregation lost in worshiping the cathedral, rather serving the community bound to it.
My books, 3 Novels and 2 collections of short stories, are available on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Smashword, etc… Below is the link to Kindle versions of my books on Amazon.