Sunday, September 23, 2012

Part 1 - The Subtle Spiritual Sickness that Stems from a False Enlightenment

While watching the news this past week I heard portions of Romney’s now-famous quote that 47% of Americans are unable and unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. As he was talking (May, 2012 to a group of donors), his view of the world became pretty clear and I had a brief flash of insight that suddenly provided clarity and unity to the vision behind a lot of conservative rhetoric over the last 10-15 years. Suddenly I could see how the hopes of very wealthy fiscal conservatives and the visions of very conservative and evangelical biblical literalists had become joined. The vision explained to me the current agenda of these extreme social conservatives and their alliance with big corporate interests and the wealthy one-percent.
They want to return America to its “glory days,” believing we are God’s gift to the rest of humanity. They invoke this idealized remembrance of our past history. But when you look at their vision, it is quite incomplete. In short, they adore the Pilgrims who came here to establish a Christian nation. After a hundred years or so, they wanted to unfetter themselves from the constrictions of the English crown and establish a purer form of capitalism. These early Americans developed the Declaration of Independence, won the Revolutionary War, and developed the Constitution. At the heart of the current conservative movement is a belief that we need to get back to those ideals, those social and individual moral principles, and that form of purer capitalism.
What this remembrance forgets is the very flawed implementation of this unified vision of these (mostly) white, western Europeans. The Pilgrims didn’t come here to establish a Christian nation. They came here to escape the European marriage of government and religion and to practice their form of religious freedom – one that unified their local government with their concept of morality. If you disagreed, they killed or disowned you. There were as many different forms of religious ideals of godly government as there were colonies.
Their purer form of capitalism was pretty much identical to that of England, involving an unbridled greed that understood the need to establish a government that existed for the protection of the country against enemies and for fostering unregulated business interests. What were those interests? Wealth – in the form of money, land, and minerals or raw resources.
In turn, this led to a government-assisted wholesale genocide of our Native Americans, legalizing the institution of slavery (where, in our Constitution a black male is defined as being 3/5 of a human), the wholesale destruction of fur bearing animals, and the theft of the underground mineral rights of small landowners as well as the legal basis of banking, both based on the precedents of English Law.
But I thought England was repressive? Well, the English form of religious intolerance was repressive. The English form of capitalism that favored the landed gentry was repressive. However, our form of religious intolerance was okay; our form of government-assisted capitalism, which favored corporations and share holders, was also spun to become accepted as being “heavenly blessed.”
Somehow, over time and wishful thinking, this vision of America successfully blended Christianity, the Bible, religious morals, capitalism, corporate greed, the Stars and Stripes, patriotism, and Caucasian western European puritanical morals into one huge, inseparable ball of wax. This ball of wax seems to have fostered values of fear, exclusivity, intolerance, and mistrust. That’s not a very pretty picture of America nor of the god that truly wants it to become the shining light of the world.
Continued in Part 2

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