Sunday, July 16, 2017

America in Crisis

What is my bottom line?  What is it that I will continue to defend after all else fails?  It is the simple statement: ‘We need God.’  I’ve heard it said that if there wasn’t a God, we’d have to create one.

We need God, not as interpreted by specific religions which are often overlaid with human images that serve their own advantage, but the fundamental ‘god concept’ that points to the values of goodness, truth and moral order—without that we cannot build a just world.

In searching to understand life we often rely on symbols to relay complex concepts.  Symbols reach beyond the limits of words, going deeper into the unconscious; their disavowal can damage the psyche.  The Statue of Liberty speaks to us of America, a flag identifies a nation, and a god concept—the symbol for a God beyond our knowing—represents ultimate values. 

When America’s founding fathers were forming this nation they freely spoke of God; even our money carries the motto ‘in God we trust’.  Sometime in the 20th Century we began to retreat form associating with God.  In today’s world we are prohibited from praying in schools or public assemblies and visual references to God have been removed (i.e. the 10 Commandments in courtrooms and Christmas nativity scenes on public greens).  That sends the message—intended or not—that ‘things of God are to be avoided’.  By outlawing references to God we have lost sight of the positive values that a god concept represents, so our children grow up without a frame of reference focused on the good, the right, the just and moral values.

Turn back to the statement ‘if there wasn’t a God we’d have to create one’—isn’t that what we’re doing in our pursuit of human rights?  We (but not all) have thus far recognized that we must abolish slavery; grant full personhood to all apart from race, gender, creed etc.; we also recognize that the sick and injured are to be cared for, not ‘abandoned to fate’; that education be available to all; and those in need be helped to find the way to self-sufficiency . . . these humanitarian concerns arise from what has always been of concern to religions in their seeking for God, these choices are examples of the god concept at work—freed from the limitations of individual denominational restrictions.  We recognize them as core values.  In effect, as we accept them, we are ‘creating God’ within ourselves—and God is OK with that!

With this last election our nation has taken a backward step to further retreat from God.  If we look we can see a major turn has occurred, away from humanitarian concerns, toward corporate interests.  I understand that economics, industrial and national interests also require attention, but not ‘instead of’, ‘more than’ and ‘at the expense of’ humanitarian concerns.  And so many of Trump’s executive actions have more the flavor of vengefulness than concern for public welfare, especially withdrawing from the Paris Accord and canceling the clean air act.

In this backward step, another danger has surfaced.  The current political entanglements involving Russian meddling in our election process is not a ‘small thing’, a ‘nothing’ to be swept under the rug so we can go on to ‘real problems’—this is a major crisis America faces.  There is something very wrong here when our election process is under attack, and this administration sees no cause for alarm!

This Friday (7/14/17) I watched The News Hour on PBS.  In the discussions they touched on several issues including the administration’s disparaging of the US Intelligence agencies, their repeated attack on the news media accusing it of ‘fake news’, and the latest disclosures in Donald Trump Jr’s emails with focus on his utter disregard for the seriousness of the situation; he offers no apology, shows no regret, brushes it off as ‘nothing’ because ’nothing came of it’, gives no evidence of having overcome any scruples and sees nothing wrong.  This points to something sinister we saw earlier in the campaign when the drive to win obscured human decency.  I quote David Brooks (NY Times columnist) . . . “this is a zone beyond any ethical scruples, it all about winning.”  He also quoted someone whose name I didn’t catch, but I offer it as something to ponder: “If you make losing a sin, you make cheating a sacrament.”

If this is where we are, America is indeed in crisis.

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