Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A World Where...

My friend posting a comment as anonymous wrote, “I feel it in my bones that something cataclysmic is coming.” Hyperbole? Perhaps! Written after the writer has spent two tours of duty in Iraq; maybe not.

Most of us living in America now have learned about the range of human achievement and depravity through books of history and the reporting and experiences of others. Most of us living in America now have never come close to the depravity end of this spectrum. Most of us feel immune to the worst of what humanity has to offer, but my friend, serving in Iraq, did experience and live depravity up close and personal. He no longer feels immune.

I don’t yet share his pessimism, but I do know depressions and wars and heartaches are just as normal for humanity as prosperity and peace and happiness. Americans have enjoyed many years of relative peace and prosperity. Could we handle the depravity end of the spectrum? Could we even imagine a world where laws are routinely ignored, where justice is a quaint concept, where poverty is most common, and where wealth and power rule supreme?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Change and Hope

The American electorate, as a whole, has chosen to have a future of safety nets, while rejecting a future of liberty. Not that Senator McCain ever advocated, or would ever advocate liberty, but the election of Senator Obama should be interpreted mostly as a vote to relieve the fear many Americans have. Fear of losing their ability to earn an income, fear of not being able to afford health care, and fear of a future run by corporations. Our choice of President-elect Obama may not be the most principled choice, but it is a pragmatic choice when considering all of the uncertainty exposed by the financial crisis, executive pay, and the loss of jobs to outsourcing.

Americans have rejected opportunity in favor of certainty. When we go to bed at night, we want to know we will be able to sleep in a bed the next night, regardless of our ability to earn a living for ourselves and our families. Most Americans, including many Republicans, are tired of being afraid.

Perhaps in 4 or 8 or 12 years, the majority of Americans will vote for the pendulum to swing back in favor of liberty, but I suspect that individual liberty, as envisioned by the signers of the American Constitution, is a fading concept of the past. The world is too complex, governments are too powerful, and corporations are too unprincipled, for individuals to ever again feel free to determine their own destiny.

President-elect Obama ran on change and hope. Washington will change from a central government that debates and determines individual rights to a government that debates and determines group rights. Future legislative fights will be group against group.

I can’t imagine ever joining a union or any other group. I don’t even feel comfortable describing myself as an evangelical because it sounds like I have joined a political group.

I may be spending the rest of my life preparing to die as a dinosaur. I hope not.