What does the state of our discourse say about us as a society when we are concerned not with the necessity or efficacy of the expenditure of resources on those with less, but on whether or not it is “right” or “moral”?
At what point did the purpose of any appointed leadership role at any point in history stray from “the greatest good for the greatest number” to maintaining a status quo?
What does the current dysfunction of our government say about our society in the broadest of terms?
In these questions, I begin to ponder what it is to be American– and indeed, what it means to be human. To a further extent, these questions engender a kind of deep, unabiding hatred for systems of control and government that are not conducive to the growth and exploration of the human condition as it exists in its myriad states. Collectively, we are failing to more deeply realize the fundamental flaws of the economic, social, and political system that we hold so dear: that over a billion people are below the poverty line, the availability of clean water and air is becoming a systemic problem, and that our ambitions quickly outstrip our wisdom.
In the instance of atomic energy, we more readily (and more rapidly) built weapons of decimation that during the darkest period of our history were capable of covering the entire face of the Earth in death a hundred times over. Barely half a century removed from such time we still ride on the razor’s edge of madness, our collective wisdom having been snuffed-out by cold calculation, its remains crushed beneath the hardness of our hearts and the jack-booted heels of industry and warfare. The coldest ones among us cast judgement and condemnation from grand ivory towers, content to wager on games of thrones and luck, while not a moment spent in idle contemplation of the vast amounts of death that have been meted-out by the puppets they control. These puppets all guard the fortresses of kings they have never seen or met, and are all trained to murder at the first sign of a threat.
Ensconced within their halls of pale white, the plights of those deemed “beneath” them go unheeded. Indeed, poxes are heaped upon poor wretches whose only crime was to have been born into a life un-gloried by the splendor of abundant resources. Death comes for them frequently, and for many becomes the only escape. Self-destruction through substance abuse, rape, torture, and killing are often the only means for them to feel anything. Their life circumstances are shaped and moulded by corrupt men in aged halls who spend their time and effort glorifying themselves and their chosen vices, building halls of the dead more grand than the homes of the living. Ever do those chosen few spend time asking questions of the stars or working to best each other in violent feuds through which there is no victor but the rich.
It is from here, a place of true seeing and truth-seeking, that we should be able to see the world for what it has truly become: spiritually-bereft and morally-bankrupt. I do not speak of spiritualism in the narrowest definition of the word, nor in the sense of one’s religion; I speak of it in the broadest terms possible. I speak of the indomitable human spirit that perseveres despite hardships, that lives on the rocky, ragged edges of survival and remains long after those who have placed them there have shed their mortal coils. I speak of the purest joy in seeing the first breath of a loved one after a coma, that purest speechlessness that accompanies the birth of one’s children, the deepest sorrow at the passing of our greatest love, the highest emotional peak of achievement, and the darkest depths that defeat may cast us to.
Each of these things is forgotten in the world of measurement we find ourselves living within and slowly becoming one with. We measure the length of life in the number of breaths we take, the amount of material resource with which we may live in excess, and our ability to reach the peaks of popularity amongst our peers. Instead of giving addition to the number of breaths that are taken away in splendor, the gratitude that we might have felt from another had we only given that which we did not require to sustain ourselves, and understanding that the adoration of the vox populi does naught for anything except one’s own ego, we allow ourselves to be moulded and guided on a trail of tears, ultimately to be led to the end of our lives having achieved nothing, helped no one (save ourselves), and remaining in death that which we were born into in the first place: servitude and anonymity.
It is in this, this heightened sense of things, that we must immerse ourselves in the deepest truths we can perceive. We must not only break our own chains, we must also spring the locks of those around us– until the last lock breaks, none of us are truly free. We are embattled, bitter, and exhausted; but we must not give in. Too easily in its ebon embrace would Death take us gladly, and so we must have the strength each day to look it straight in the eye and say “Not today.”
We must find the conviction and the courage within our very souls to continue to tell the whole truth of our varied and different existences to those who would seek our doom, and to embrace even those who would see us destroyed. Confrontations need not occur with violence and conflagrations, but instead can occur through even the slightest jarring from the stasis of their spirit. It is on this battlefield that we must now engage; not with hate, but with love. A deep and abiding love, one that acknowledges not a single truth, but many truths of different circumstances of birth, life, and culture. Upon this battlefield, there are no casualties– save only for the discarded trappings of lives spent in bitter hatred and ignorance.
It is a war of words we must all win, with many battles of spirit and understanding that we all must endure if we are to understand each other and to come out alive and better for it. We need not be moral, right, or just–only just and magnanimous enough to understand that no human truth is The Truth. Only our understanding of each other as it is relayed to us from one another. It is in this place of understanding, love, and tolerance that we must work to build our collective future, lest we find ourselves carelessly and needlessly embracing Death.
This would be the greatest tragedy of all.