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America: 2022 Time for a Spiritual Revolution

 

The Jan 6th committee has done everything possible to show that Trump attempted to overthrow the government. They almost beg the undecided to look anew at the evidence and realize how close we came to losing our democracy and that it is still possible for that to happen. But if one considers that races between Democrats and Trump Republicans across the country are extremely close, one begins to wonder if half the population couldn’t care less if we lose our democracy or not. That a political race between Raphael Warnack and Herschel Walker should even exist, much less be close, tells a great deal about the state of the American mind. The Capitol building is not “the People’s House”, not the symbol of government of, by, and for the people. No, it is instead, in the minds of the dispossessed, the symbol of a system that has deprived them of their pursuit of happiness, a system wherein the rich get richer and the poor are thrown aside, a system wherein the health and welfare of the “common man and woman” has declined to the breaking point. And the common man won’t put up with it anymore. These “commoners” all want trump to be guilty of the crime of being their hero, their messiah come to deliver them from the degradation and poverty imposed by the “elite” system embodied in and symbolized by the Capitol building. Making the claim of seditious insurrection against trump is exactly what the people want, proving, in their mind, that he is their salvation.

The problem, make no mistake about it, is the absolutely immoral unequal distribution of wealth in this country. When asked whether the preservation of democracy was not the basic issue in the upcoming midterm elections, Bernie Sanders’ response would be clairvoyant if it wasn’t so obvious: democracy has failed to fulfill the mythical American Dream, and now people are ready to try a dictator who promises a better life. Statespeople like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren show us both the problem and the solution, such as a wealth tax, but to no avail. And that is because in addition to the common people being beaten down, there are those who profit greatly from the existing system of inequality. The Republican party is united in helping the wealthy maintain the current system of exploitation while at the same time hypocritically masquerading as if they cared about the poor and middle class. Of course there are those Republicans  who believe in principles of frugality and maintaining old time social values, but they also support the authoritarians because they have been led to believe that the alternative is hordes of criminal migrants invading the borders. That’s why the image of the Wall is so powerful: it promises to protect us from those invaders who would “grab” for themselves the little we have. Meanwhile, hidden from view, the enemy within is the real threat, those in our midst compounding riches upon riches while so many suffer the consequences of their greed. 

What’s the answer? While it is a question of economics and politics, it is also a question of moral and spiritual value. We argue interminably about programs to create or deny opportunity for education, healthcare, housing and a host of needs that must be met if democracy is to survive. The problem is that the rich and powerful have taken control of the system, and lead us to believe that the path they have chosen, the way of moneyed materialism, is to be emulated because it is the way to happiness. Nothing is further from the truth. Studies have shown that once a person has income sufficient for survival and the enjoyment of life, currently less than $80,000 in the US today, additional income is counterproductive and actually makes one less happy. The belief that more and more money will make us happier is a false illusion, an illusion that becomes addictive, and the rich and powerful are addicted to accumulation. 

That’s the problem, and that’s where the answer lies. To care for one another and to share with one another- that is both the path to happiness and the key to democracy. America calls for a spiritual revolution, one in which basic respect for one another replaces the motive for profit from “the other”. How to implement that revolution is the question to which, individually and collectively, we must immediately address our full attention. The stakes are very high.

 

Dr. Carl Krieg received his BA from Dartmouth College, MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in NYC, and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author of What to Believe? the Questions of Christian Faith,   The Void and the Vision and  The New Matrix: How the World We Live In Impacts Our Thinking About Self and God. As professor and pastor, Dr. Krieg has taught innumerable classes and led many discussion groups. He lives with his wife Margaret in Norwich, VT.

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