Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The New American Currency

It could be that I suffered from terminal political naïveté during the waning decades of the twentieth century.  In the sixties and seventies,  even as a teen too young to vote, I believed that my voice—added to all the others of my generation demanding equality, environmentalism and an end to our forebears’ established bigotries—made a difference.  We clamored for change.  We swung our world in the direction of open-mindedness, acceptance and living in harmony with each other and with our planet.  We created change.  And the change was good. 

In my callow youth, I believed the changes we’d wrought would last forever.  The changes represented steps forward for humanity and our nation.  How could we keep from just…continuing to go forward?  No one believes the world will go backward.  Who could have guessed that the things for which we stood, the change we created, would weaken and crumble and blow away in the wind?  Or be trampled to bits by subsequent generations, our over-indulged children and grandchildren, who grew up believing themselves to be the center of the known universe?  And acted accordingly—materially, politically and morally.  We tried to pass the baton to our kids, but they were too busy talking on their cell phones and playing video games to grab it.  Whereupon we just dropped the baton in the cinders, turned around and headed for the exits.   

And so our nation has come to where it is today:  Americans have abandoned any pretense of—indeed, any germ of respect for—following a moral high road.  If an action doesn’t put more money in someone’s pocket, make our enemies (neighbors?) shake in their boots or titillate the senses to the point of near-insanity, we don’t go there.  Everything is extreme, over-the-top, hysterical and in-your-face.   Quiet courage?  We don’t give it a thought.  Nose-to-the-grindstone toil for the good of…someone else?  We have no interest.

There’s a term bandied about quite ubiquitously these days:  Political Capital.  Military strategies are funded with it.  Elections are structured for the purpose of collecting it; our national policy revolves around it.  Our government is founded upon the stockpiling and subsequent doling out of this ideological currency.

At what point did we drop our morals like a tanking stock and invest everything in politics?  What did we think “political capital” could buy us that our long and lovingly held moral standards did not?  Why did we—the ponderous throng of Post-war Baby Boomers—abandon our moral stock and throw our coins into the coffers of political capital?  And what is that ultimately going to buy us?

We had better figure it out, because moral bankruptcy is a fact of American life here in the 21st century.  And I’m pretty sure there’s not a bail-out for that.                

1 comment:

  1. There might be but it will require the wholesale extinction of a few dinosaurs. Starting with but not limited to organized religion starting with the fundies. I didn't read the article yet but here's a goodie. Joel Osteen inherited his daddy's church. He doesn't have a theology degree. He's in this fifties with lovely brown, blow dried, moussed hair and the suspicion he's invested some of his multimillion pay in a plastic surgeon. Speaking of millions. Apparently the church, his church I refuse to call it God's, has come up short, Very, very short. Don't get me started on the damage organized religion has done to this country. I was just pissed off enough yesterday to tap dance over that line for the last time. And I still might. Sorry to vent.