Friday, February 8, 2008

People In Order

Who supposes that God must watch over America with a special providence has insufficiently understood the Book of Judges. The Lord’s very Chosen People, from whom He removed the protection of His Hand. I dig out my tattered old Bible and it falls open to tell me that when the tribes fail and fail and fail, He leaves the lords of the Philistines in the land, as a test. And when the tribes do evil in the sight of the Lord, His anger burns hot against the children of Israel, and He sells them time and again into the hands of the oppressor. Always some hero rises up to shake off the chains, but that time and that generation passes, and with it, that blessing.

It seems to be a rule.

Well? We don’t show up in the Bible. America. We are blessed, as we have been blessed, through our inheritance, not our present qualities. We’ve been living off of our inheritance. How much are we leaving for our posterity? America is great not because of its real estate. Other countries possess natural resources. We are blessed because of our institutions. The rule of law. The separation of powers. The mechanisms of checks and balances. A decentralized, a federal organization for our provinces. It is these, which are both the product and the shaper of that original American genius, that has made us the light and the savior of the world. But shall we imagine it must always be so?

China stirs from its long slumber. India looks up from its poverty and discovers that its population is a resource, not a burden. Russia is rich with gold and oil. Europe is united in a reconstituting Imperium. In such a crowded field, is there only one bright star? It is not wealth or land or power that make a nation great. It is vision and energy. It is faith and optimism. It is confidence.

The silly season of electioneering disposes us to consider the future, and more, makes us think we can make respectable predictions. I play that game. It’s just a game. I don’t take it seriously -- I just like to sound authoritative. Politics is my spectator sport. The reality, however, is that we don’t really seem to elect leaders. Hardly ever. We elect figureheads and spokesmen. Power is so neatly divided that we can make serious mistakes in our choices, and the consequences are often less than our foolishness deserves. It isn’t the leaders who get us into trouble. It’s us. Kingdoms suffer for the iniquity of their kings. Tyrannies are undone by their despots. But sovereignty in America resides in the people. When things go wrong, we’d love to blame DC. We should look to our own actions and character.

So it was with the Israelites. When the land became polluted with the whorings of the people, the Lord grew wroth. There was no king in the land. Sovereignty resided with them, and they called down the raiders from the hills and from out of the desert. Their iniquity summoned their punishment. Their repentance raised up a savior.

Where is our savior? The question is premature. First we must face our iniquities. It isn’t enough to decry promiscuity, when the internet is used mostly for pornography. It’s meaningless to bemoan the shoddy state of public education, when parents don’t supervise their children’s homework. There’s no use complaining about political corruption when we keep reelecting the same characters, and when we ourselves cheat or lie, or fail to excel in our integrity. It all has the same nature, for all that the degree is less. No one needs me to reel out a long list of national problems writ small in our own lives. The point is that there is no leader who will save us.

We save ourselves. We have to be our own heroes. If a Judge is to rise up, it will be when we rise up in our own lives, as judges of ourselves. Great Awakenings start with small awakenings. There is no more conservative principle than this. Responsibility starts with the individual.

A theme of my life, in the past number of years, is that there is no justice. I know this from both theory and practice, and it has poisoned my soul. Shall I die, then, from this poison? I console myself as best I can with the knowledge that as imperfect and vile as this world is, there is a judgment coming that will set the balance right. Anyone who doesn’t see the need for Hell hasn’t thought deeply enough about the nature of corruption. That’s not an antidote for my poisoned soul, but it’s the bottle that holds it. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I should concern myself with forgiveness, and leave profound ruminations to beings more divine than myself. Still, it’s nice to know that there is a Hell. It makes sense of our yearning for justice and a righteous judge.

But I was talking about America. Yes, we do need to shudder at the thought that there is a righteous God. Our great national sin is no longer slavery. That we have banded together to nod and wink at the dismemberment of scores of millions of babies over the past three and a half decades, well, no voice that I can hear cries out for rescue, as the blacks must have done every night of every year of their oppression. Into what tyrant’s hand have we been given, that we are so silent? And when public funds are used to subsidize fatherlessness, and to engender a sense of entitlement in people of worthless character, and this is done as if it were a right, and with the effect of suppressing the true, the actual virtue of charity -- who are we to blame?

Our responsibly starts, it does not end, at the voting booth. We do not hand off our obligations as citizens because we have voted. Our hands are not clean just because we think we’ve elected someone to blame. Government does not supervise us, here in America. We supervise it.

Until that idea is understood, and absorbed, and implemented, all the speechified blather we’ve been hearing about what a True Reagan Conservative is will continue to be just more pathetic lying empty and meaningless trash, no matter how sincerely uttered by the guy on the stage. We can’t make justice. There is no justice. We can, however, seek some lesser standard to implement, such as the rule of law, and the separation of powers. We can, and actually we must, be agents that will check and balance the power of the entrenched privileged logothetes who imagine themselves as wearing purple. They are not kings, they are not craftsmen. They are servants. They should be treated with courtesy, as even condemned criminals might be. Some of them might earn respect, as a diligent employee should earn the respect of his boss. But we’re the boss.

Sorry to be so obvious. I’m speaking mostly to myself. It’s sort of like praying. Maybe someone else is listening. Hope he gets something out of it too.



Anonymous said...

No longer do we have this perspective. When did we lose it? How can we find the door is we no longer recognize our sight as blindness?

I am acutely aware that at some point God told Jeremiah, "Don't even pray for these people for I no longer hear you."

That point came only after the children of Israel offered their children to Molloch.

Jack H said...

Yes. Hope is learned, but then it becomes an innate trait. I suppose that's how it is with all virtues. In any case, it always reflects back to us. We have to teach hope, by having it.