Friday, May 1, 2009

Five things wrong ...

Five things wrong with the U.S.of A. today:

1. A society based on the rule of law is a Roman innovation, and a brilliant one, a bulwark against tyranny of the minority or the majority. Thus, in history, law codes gradually supplanted tribal justice and the use of community shaming in order to maintain a sense of morality. However, relying wholly on the rule of law can cause a problem: No one fears to offend, or feels shame in violating, mere ink and paper scribblings. If the law is not "written in our hearts," we have a problem. Rule of law also spawns legions of lawyers making their fortunes trying to outwit it, and keeps legislators in a constant battle to keep up with the latest outrages, from cell phones while driving to the plague of underage "s$xting." Basic shame is so very old-fashioned.

2. Education. I sound like some wheezy old grandfather, but there are countries in the world in which children walk for miles each day to sit in some hovel of a building with the barest rudiments of educational materials, so hungry are they to learn. By contrast, most American children consider "school" akin to prison and being devoted to learning horribly "uncool." Also, far from being the respected sage he/she once was, today's teacher must constantly walk on eggshells lest he/she be sued, and runs the risk of poisoning if he/she leaves a coffee cup unguarded in the classroom.

3. Economy. It's based on an ever expanding cycle of exploitation, a sort of pyramid scheme with Earth as collateral and all of us as eventual suckers. This is certainly not solely an American problem. And world socialism proved no better, even much worse, than capitalism, at resolving this dillema. There is a problem when prosperity depends on wringing more and more crops out of more and more exhausted soil, on building more and more gas stations and shopping malls where forests once grew, on constantly taking, taking, taking. That problem is that eventually, the soil is dead, the forests are gone and the minerals are all extracted and shipped away. You can only eat so many potato chips out of a bag before it becomes empty and useless.

4. Two-party system. These days, it's becoming more like one and a half. I am quite aware of the flaws of parliamentary rule in other lands, where coalitions constantly form and break up, and centrist parties can be at the mercy of wacky loons and fringe parties. But I am emphatically neither a Democrat nor a strong Republican so I am in essence left out of the political process, forced each election to choose one or the other of people I more and more like less and less.

5. Losing touch. We are losing touch with history. Go to Mt. Vernon and you will find out how long it has been since a sitting U.S. president bothered to visit our first president's estate, a stone's throw from Washington D.C. We are also losing touch with nature. And we are losing touch with the values taught in our mostly agrarian past: Love for the land, self-reliance, a sense of the seasons, hard work, love for hard work, patience in adversity and even delayed gratification -- corn doesn't grow in a week unless you are playing Farmtown on Facebook.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

A very righteous rant. I agree with you on all points.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Sad, sick, and all terribly true.

But getting the word out (and thank you for that), is one way to change it.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore