In Service to What?

We spend much of our lives figuring out what we work for and what works for us. It is in my humble opinion that we have gone drastically astray in this pursuit.

All creations of Mankind should be in service to Mankind, and Mankind itself should be in service to our Creator.

What have we learned from this quarantine? One of the most poignant things that I think has come from this quarantine is not what we have learned, but what we have been forced to confront – we have known it to be true for a long time. Longer than we would like to admit.

We have been forced to confront the truth that one of the most powerful things that Mankind created – the common man – has been usurped, and does not work for us, but now works against us.

The Economy.

It is written like this because it has taken on the role of some sort of sick deity. It is said with the same gravitas and power as God. We expect it to take lives, in some sort of sick sacrificial ritual, not unlike the rituals in the Old Testament. We need to sacrifice our elderly and sick to the Invisible Hand of the Economy. Instead of sacrificing a goat, we are now expected to sacrifice our grandmothers, our grandfathers and our infirm.

With the modern sacrifice, however, the entity that reaps the reward has changed, just as the sacrifice has changed. Now, when we are expected to sacrifice not only our health, but our leisure, sanity and financial stability, the sacrificial smoke does not go up to the sky, but into the pockets of the rich. To the billionaires, the multi-millionaires and the politicians that they have in their pockets.

The economy is meant to be in the service of the common man and woman – the nurse, the landscaper, the mechanic and the teacher. It should not be in service to the shareholder, the CEO, the Wall-Street broker and the members of Congress, emboldening them to further and more heinous theft. And that is what they do – theft from the average worker, and from the working poor. Turning more and more into dependents, unable to take care of themselves, spending all their time fattening the pockets of others while their pockets grow ever lighter. Congress women and men, bought off by the oligarchs, taking power and independence away from subdivisions, inner city apartments and trailer parks, all the while consolidating it into mansions, high-rises and gated communities.

We have been forced to confront this fact that has been true far longer than just this quarantine. The only question left to us is – do we let this ever-cascading erosion of our health, wealth and sanity mount, or do we take it back? It needs to be taken back. We cannot ask for it, plead and beg for it, or hope for it to come back. That has failed time and time again. We must take it.

Easter in Quarantine

              As we find ourselves in increasingly isolated times, self-imposed though they may be, I think many of us have found more time on our hands than we ever thought we would have. We begged and pleaded for it, whether to sleep, read, make it to the gym, cook healthy meals, read the bible more than three times a year (maybe that one is just me), or whatever it may have been. And now that we have it, it seems we don’t know to do with our most requested gift.

              As we burrow deeper and deeper into our quarantine caves (at least that’s what my apartment has become), I hope that we have found some time to burrow deeper into ourselves as well. When we go about our day to day life, we find ourselves immersed in events, some of which are trivial, some of which are important and some of which fall in between. These events, and the ubiquity of people around us, we find time for introspection to be very limited, if something that happens at all. When we do have some alone time, whether it be a commute, a few moments in the bathroom after taking the morning shower, watching the coffee percolate, or whatever may have you, those moments are often so rare that we take them as a release valve, as a moment to decompress and not think. With weeks of decompression now underway, and weeks more seeming to loom ahead, perhaps it is time that we again think.

              One of the things that I think many of us will be thinking about during this time of the year is Easter – whatever Easter may mean to you. Whether it means the resurrection of Christ, a day where you get some delicious chocolate, a day where a majority group of American culture celebrates their religious holiday while your religious holidays constantly get overshadowed and ignored, or simply another Sunday, it can be a time for us to look inward.

              When I think about this Sunday, Easter Sunday, I think about the story of a man who was resurrected. A man who was not only resurrected, but a man who is purported to have given our souls eternal freedom. If that sounds like something that is way too good to be true, don’t worry. I think the same thing every single time that that idea pops up in conversation or finds its way into my thoughts. I feel like it is selfish to hope for something after this, when I am already so incredibly lucky, so unbelievably fortunate, to find myself where I am today. Adopted, sober, brother to two wonderful sisters and son to two incredible parents, boyfriend of a woman who loves me; it seems like the most incredibly self-conceited and selfish thing to believe that there is a place, far outside my understanding, that is even better than what I have now.

              And that leads me back to introspection, to quarantine as a place to find that time to delve into our own inner cave. Perhaps I need to find the spot inside of me that makes me think that it is selfish to hope for something after this. I do not think of eternal life as hopeful, or idealistic (in the positive sense of that word), realistic, inevitable, or anything else. I think of it as selfish, and I am confident that there is a reason for that. When you think of a place after this one, a place where we are one with our idea of a Deity, of God, I am sure that there is a thought that jumps to your mind before any other. And there is a reason for that, just like there is a reason for my thought.

              Perhaps, as Easter Sunday finds its way into our homes, and we find ourselves with another day to think, this season of contemplation can become a time to discover what your reaction to eternal life represents.

The New American Republic

Abolish the concept of “one” central ruler. One of the main worries of George Washington was that the presidency would become too much like a monarchy, and it seems his worries were proved, at least partially, true. With the willful abdication of power by Congress and the Senate, placing a massive weight of influence on the Office of the President and the Supreme Court, the United States is much closer to a monarchy today than it was just after declaring her freedom from one.

There needs to be a balance of power – some of it needs to be in the hands of the people, but there cannot be too much. Just as there has been an abdication of power by congress and the senate, we can see the origination of this relinquishment of control in the voting public. Often by no fault of their own, the common voter has been manipulated, swindled, bribed and beaten into certain voting patterns by wealthy individuals and organizations. In today’s economy and world, these “wealthy individuals and organizations” are mainly comprised of corporations, both domestic and international. This is an indictment on the whole of our Republic, and it encourages us to re-imagine what the ideal form of government should be. It has been proven, from Rome to the U.S.A., that a Republic inevitably crumbles into an oligarchy. Direct democracy is simply mob rule, which is the quickest way to oppress any form of minority, from gender, religion, ethnicity or any other demarcation. A balance must be struck between the rule of the many and the rule of the competent. The Founding Fathers attempted to do this, but they did not foresee the devolution into corporatism, nor can they be blamed for this lack of foresight.

A separation from political parties and blind adherence to a singular economic strategy is a necessity. Neither Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Feudalism nor any other economic system is capable of adequacy in a world with over 7 billion people and with pervasive globalization. A truly modern state is one that would implement the best of all economic systems, with the only requisite of implementation being that it provides the most benefit to her citizens, with no partiality based on dogma. On top of this, it is blindingly obvious to any modern American that there needs to be a remedy to the two-party system. It would be beneficial to keep in place the idea that all citizens have the right to hold office. At the same time, there needs to be an implementation of a competency check. If a surgeon is required to be licensed in order to have power over an individual’s life within the operating room, should not a politician be credentialed before being to have over the lives of hundreds of millions?

Those who are too poor to take care of themselves need a robust social safety net. Whether this be the infirm, the elderly, children, or those who are mentally and/or physically ill, no one should live in poverty. This will come at the cost of the rich. A progressive income tax needs to be put in place, targeting ultrawealthy individuals, but more importantly, targeting ultra-powerful and wealthy corporations. America has become strangled by corporate power, resulting in myriad injustices. Wealth is not inherently evil, but it becomes so when glorified and placed above the health of those without it. Wealth is a tool to achieve a goal, it is not a goal in and of itself. At least, it should not be.

We must eschew the pursuit of happiness and instead pursue contentment, for our contentment has been stolen from us. The growth and plenty that defined the American Dream has been destroyed by those that were blinded by the benefits of their actions, failing to see the consequences of those same said actions. Happiness is inherently frivolous and fleeting, based on any number of changing desires. Contentment is purchased by the sweat of the brow, while happiness is bought by the desires of the loins, the stomach and a desire to keep apathy at bay.

Our new American Republic must be planted in the soil that our forefathers cultivated, along with the root and trunks they so painstakingly nurtured. We must trim the frivolous, bigoted and antiquated branches from it, and water it with new ideas that have sprung from technological and moral advancement since 1775. This will be a lesson in discovering that which is worth saving, that which is worth pruning and that which is necessary to add. It is a daunting task.