Thursday, December 10, 2015


   I believe it is self-delusional to say that America today is a great country.  Yes, millions of Americans are living good, decent lives.  I write of today's power-brokers, those who have the power to shape American society for all our people. And sadly, I write of those Americans who have fallen prey to the power brokers.

   America was founded on a great idea, or better, ideal, that needed to be developed throughout time.  Our founders proposed that regardless of race or religion, all men are created equal and endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We were to be governed by no king or queen, by no official religion.  As President Lincoln later clarified, we were to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

   The American ideal aimed at fostering an ever evolving "more perfect" union, a basic, underlying oneness that was to animate and unite all our social, educational, political, religious, economic, etc., endeavors, while guaranteeing freedom and opportunity for all.  The basic, underlying culture upon which our ever more perfect union was to stand and operate was to be especially marked by strong families, strong churches, and a strong commitment to public service.  In sum, our ideal of national unity was to give rise to a luminously human common bond, a union within which our American diversity and individuality could develop and be celebrated.

   In our Catholic point of view, the American ideal of freedom-in-unity could clearly help foster the ever developing Kingdom of God on Earth, the reign of justice, peace, respect, joy of life, gratitude and love that Jesus prayer for.

   I recently read that in every community, whether it be political, religious, corporate, educational, etc., culture accounts for 75% of the community's life, while strategy, i.e., policies and actions, account for the other 25%.  The everyday policies and actions (and reactions) that we create and carry out in our society must therefore take into serious account the underlying culture within which they occur.      

   For example, America started out within a culture of freedom and unity that yet accepted the deeply serious flaw of sexism and the inhuman flaw of slavery.  It took the actions of abolitionists and a horrific civil war to overcome the dehumanizing policies and actions of slavery.  Yet, even today, the rot of racism keeps coming out from the back woods of the American psyche, and a good amount of sexism still prevails. We can also add to our culture the dank feature of military-industrial aggressiveness.

   So if we want to judge if America is a great country, we must first take a look at the culture within which we carry on our daily public and private lives today.  Sadly, I believe it is easy to see that today, America's culture is corrupt.  In fact, we have no underlying culture of oneness or unity--and therefore no operative culture for true greatness.  

   We know the flaws all too well.  Dangerously self-serving, small-minded political leaders have blinded themselves to the common good they are supposed to serve.  Far too many of them see the common good in terms of their corporate sponsored reelection, which is all but guaranteed thanks to gerrymandering and fear-mongering.  Too many corporate executives, obsessed with maximizing profits, have blinded themselves to their essential human/spiritual responsibility to provide fair wages that permit workers to live a decent American life on a non-polluted earth.  Too many of our schools and universities have blinded themselves to a fully human and humanizing education, as they present a mechanistic curriculum that fractures education (and students) into isolated specialties that don't relate to one another.  While our religious institutions become more meaningless to more Americans, some reach out to strengthen themselves by trying to gain political power, while others, e.g., our Catholic bishops, simply repeat worn-out condemnations with disregard to Pope Francis' plea to show the world the true God who is merciful.

   ISIS is not our greatest enemy today.  Our greatest enemy is our own plundering of our American greatness.  Lacking a culture of unity, panicked citizens flay about, trying to find meaning in ever more lethal guns and in the false security of fearful anger and hatred spewed by TV and talk show demagogues.  Could our ever more bitter isolation from one another be part of the reason why our young people are killing one another?

   A wise man once said, "If you don't stop and turn around, you're going to get to where you're going."  We have gotten to a place from which we need to turn around and redirect our lives.  The spiritual word for "turn around and redirect our lives" is "conversion."

   We must turn around and convert to the point where, for example we learn to see even the members of ISIS as our brothers and sisters.  Yes, their movement must be stopped and yes, things have gone so far that we may have to kill all of them.  But if we don't see them as our brothers and sisters under God, our common Father, if we see ourselves as totally separate from them, then killing them will solve nothing.  The destructive idea of separation that infects ISIS will still remain in us.  

   America will not be great again until we find the policies and actions that will build a new, underlying culture of caring oneness and unity--among ourselves and all people of earth, and with the earth herself.  One way to do this is as simple as it is difficult.  First, all Americans, of whatever social or economic status, must STOP! what we're now doing and take a good look at who we really are.  We are Americans who are also citizens of our one world, a world of all races, religions, and people of no religion.  We share our world respectfully with all our brothers and sisters, especially the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast, all of whom are fully worthy of total human respect.  

   Then, Americans in every area of our society must work seriously, alone and in groups, to discern how to re-humanize the field they are involved in and therefore know well. (This includes looking anew at their own family and community.) Then, all Americans must take what they have clearly discerned along with trusted others, and use it to act prophetically to elevate their field, and where necessary, peacefully and lovingly correct it by making it more luminously human.  

   A newspaper recently printed the headline, "God is Not Going to Fix This."  The headline was partially correct.  The creative, healing and world transforming grace of Christ, that empowers us and makes us responsible to bring back our true American greatness and serve the whole world as we should, is already with and within us.  God has already done his/her part to fix this. 

   Christ is our Way, Truth and Life.  Let us be "on our way", on Christ's way to the truth and life of our beloved country.  How far we get is up to God; the point is that we walk in the right direction.




No comments:

Post a Comment