This is the time of year when darkness is deepest and the coming of the light almost a forgotten dream. This time of the year, what we now call the end of December, the human race has always looked forward to the returning of the sun after months of decreasing light, and, in some areas, total darkness. During that growing darkness it becomes ever easier to lose faith in goodness and hope, in the human aptitude for kindness, compassion, community and cooperative action in our better angels.
We find ourselves, once again, in the midst of another two-year campaign for the presidency. Presidential campaigns, for the first two years of the cycle, are like an underground fungus that, although they may look dormant and moribund, are alive and well and spreading underground to rise to the surface, fully formed, about two years before the actual election occurs, to provide "news," info-mation and entertainment for the populace who have been carefully prepared for these events by years of celebrity sex, scandal and shenanigans that passes for news here.
Myths are often a structural underpinning of a society, at the heart of a narrative that holds a society together.
There is an old song, "Little Boxes" sung by Pete Seeger. Some of you may remember it, and if not, you might check it out. It is about a controlled society in which conformity and "groupthink" are a way of life. The song starts with the lines "boxes, many boxes, little boxes made of ticky-tacky" describing some of the early housing developments but also referring to programming conformity into the society. In many ways it describes what is still occurring, but now in a more finely tuned way. We have a boxed vision of this nation piped into our daily lives by advertising and the mass media.
We all pretty well know that it is not particularly effective to treat symptoms without exploring the causes of those symptoms, because without treating the causes the symptoms will often simply reoccur with some regularity, or, making the symptoms disappear will simply allow the root problem to grow and fester. Symptoms are signals that something is wrong on a deeper level and suggest that we should discover those causes and attend to them. Recently, in Charleston, S.C., we had an event that was a symptom of deeper problems.
The uniforms have been around for quite a while and have often served us relatively well to help sort out our political directions. Those uniforms said "Republican" or "Democrat" and they had all kinds of hoopla, with mascots and bands and bunting connected with their tradition, although under the surface there was a fair amount of hard-ball played.
One undeniable measure of the true values of a society is whom and what they reward with wealth, power and recognition. Although we as a society seem to eschew self-examination, this is as clear as the nose on our face; those we have declared the winners, the darlings of our society are the 1 percent who flourish like no others in our history being rewarded with our wealth and our power. We have turned over most of the control of our nation, our present and our future, to that very select group. That is what we have chosen, either by clear choice or tacitly.
Half-Measures: Sort of solving a problem, finding a kind of compromise that appears to address a problem but really doesn't fundamentally change the situation. Half-measures delayed nearly all reforms of democracy, i.e., civil rights, the vote for women, the end of slavery and workers rights. With the exception of the New Deal, which came from the near collapse of the nation, all of the real changes took grassroots movements - the citizens of the country standing up and insisting on the change. We are now at one of those points.
Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that is not controversial. It is nonpartisan. It is not necessarily religious and it is very American.
We continually hear warnings of creeping socialism in America from the captive press and talking heads. To steer clear of that incredible threat we have curbed spending on social programs that might help the ordinary citizens, we would dismantle any economic protections for those with problems or special needs, we would teach about the value of a dollar by making wage-earners more vulnerable, punishing those who fell for the deceitfulness of cheap home mortgages and make bankruptcy more difficult for any but the rich and powerful ...