Thursday, August 31, 2006
I've been trying to reconcile this to myself....
I posted a little bit ago about the thing where the billionaires are buying boats, and brought it up with a fellow seminarian, who naturally challenged me on it. These billionaires, the ones with all of the economic power available to them, that could be put toward the common good, are not the enemy.
They are in effect a representative scapegoat for all of us who are getting by okay, or perhaps a little better, while others in the world suffer and starve. I may only be a thousandaire, but still I've got something.
In any case, my friend brought up the dead-on concept that a bunch of liberal care-for-the-poor types whining about and pointing at the rich isn't going to help them want to join our cause. But them joining us is necessary, if we're going to get anywhere without a whole bunch of blood.
And there I go again saying "them" joining "us." From a real perspective, if I say "We are going to do thus-and-such...", who does that "We" encompass? According to the roots of my theology, at the end of the day, that "We" has to encompass everyone. According to set theory, of course, there are always going to be ways to divide into "within the set" and "outside of the set," but the one universal set of everyone/everything riding on this big ol sphere, is a "We" that's incontrovertible.
So, given that, I still say that the resources "We" have been given to play with during our time here on Earth have been arrogated/unjustly claimed, and are being misappropriated, and those who should be governing, legislating, and enforcing are not up to the task.
Today, I was thinking about my policy of giving a buck to any of the spare-changers I come across and what other people might think of that. Lots of people would say that my money would be better spent given to a shelter or foodbank, and I don't disagree with that. But to those people who say "Oh, those bums aren't going to buy food or put it toward anything good - they're just going to spend it on cigarettes or alcohol," I wonder. I wonder if there's not a corresponding response one could give to those who say we need to make sure that the corporations (and their investors) are making good profits, so that they can help the economy and give their employees a paycheck. That response would be "Oh, those bums aren't going to spend it on healthcare benefits or decent wages for their factory workers - they're going to spend it on their boats." It hurts to say that, because I believe it to be true. I hear about our oil companies (and other corporations) with record profits, and the part of the "We" who compose the American elite class with their ever-widening income gap, which come as a result of government tax-breaks, subsidies, and no-bid contracts, and I see all the suffering people (and important elements of the commonwealth structure) that neither our government nor the corporations "We" make up are taking care of. I see that, and have to say that.
I don't want to be a part of that, and I think that's what keeps me going back to "Us" and "Them" thinking. "We" can only become a universal "Us" when that desire to make a "They" in our minds dissolves. That's hard work.
Did I ever mention the little bit about the defn of "Satan"? Yep, in some old book or another, someone said that Satan is the adversary of God. But then with all that wrestling betwen good and evil, etc, it gets a little difficult for some folk to sort out which is which. So in the interest of expedience (lest we stay trapped in the infinite loop of "You're the Great Satan." "No, YOU'RE the Great Satan," etc...) let's simply define Satan as The Adversary.
SATAN == THE ADVERSARY
Eliminate the "them." Satan disappears, or at the very least suffers a big ugly gash on the forehead, perhaps a mortally wounding one. The problem up until now is that people try to eliminate the "them" by means of actually eliminating those they consider as other, rather than eliminating the very concept of "them."
OK, enough of that fun, here's some Jesus Lizard lyrics for a different (and IMHO more fun) kind of fun.
Jesus and Mary Chain: Good for My Soul
Jesus Lizard: American BB
colors: blue and white
mood: sleepy? not really..
chant/prayer/mantra: tra la la
Do you think many middle-classers, myself included, use the argument of the rich not giving to the poor as rationale to give less themselves? In that case, the obscenely rich aren't really to blame for anything here, but could consider serving as a really great example for the less well-to-do. That is, it would be nice to see some well-known corporate leaders living more modestly and publicly giving on behalf of the companies they lead. Those of us who work for such leaders might be more likely to follow their example, scaled down a bit and live more modest lifestyles ourselves. Easier said than done.
On a different note, I've watched my various CEO's and executive leaders through the years in awe. Particularly in light of their day-to-day lifestyle. Meetings 12 hours a day, making enormous decisions, whole organizations jumping when told. Granted, I don't have anywhere near the balls to do that kind of work, if I did, I'd be so physically and mentally exhausted at night that I can't imagine wanting to go take my boat out, travel to a second home, do anything exotic and expensive at all! My r&r would be home, family, and beer, all inexpensive pleasures. That would leave all sorts of unspent money to trickle into the lower rungs.
Ironically, I just looked at the clock and am getting that nagging feeling that I need to put my shoes on, pack my lunch, and head of to work.
Happy Labor Day.
Things won't change until there's enough misery in the middle class. Give it a few years.