Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reworking of My September 18th Post

It seems my post yesterday was as woozy as I was, maybe it's not so bad that I am usually far away from my computer during my more lucid periods. Today, I'm still woozy but I've had input from a few friends so hopefully I won't degenerate into meaninglessness.

America, for many non-Americans, has always been the safe place, the haven. This is the place the poor and oppressed and desperate could come to be safe from destructive governements and economic systems. Many have found asylum here. This is where my parents sent me. And this has been a safe place even though very bad things can and do happen here. There is child abuse and exploitation and crime and all sorts of sin and misfortune. But this is also a place where one can build a life oneself.

Not too long ago, one of my roommates was a young Frenchman who was studying banking. In grammar school, he had been identified to study maths and though his interest was literature, he had been shuffled along the maths route until here he was at Columbia, fees and expenses paid, following an approved maths career. (He plans to make an enormous amount of money in banking and retire in ten or fifteen years.) That doesn't happen here. We choose our own directions, can and often do change course if we desire. In America, we build our own lives and that is a precious gift. If we fail we can try again if we are willing to do so. Our individual wills are the most important possession any of has in this country, the determinant of whether or not we will build lives for ourselves.

Most of us do. And many from other countries have come here and built lives for themselves. I think much of the envy directed at the US is because anyone with some talent, imagination, spunk and the willingness to work hard can create a place for himself here. That place might not be grand. It might not be expensive. It might not look the way magazines say it should. It might not even consist in things but rather in merely the freedom to be free - to be "king of the road." But it belongs to oneself.

Here we can build lives that are neither dependent on nor beholden to the state. Here community and society are freely chosen not imposed. Here, the family, the church or other religious institution, and our neighbourhoods are supposed to provide the moral development we need to care for ourselves, create new families and be good citizens. Here we are trusted to care for ourselves. To care for our families. To govern ourselves and our families.

We are at a time when many believe we can't care for ourselves. Actually, it seems many believe we ought to care for those who don't care for themselves. I am (or trying very hard to be) a faithful Catholic. I believe we have a moral imperative to care for those who can't care for themselves. But I don't believe the government is the best way to do that and I also don't think the Church teaches that caring for the poor must be the work of the government - particularly when the government has shown it can't do the job. I also believe we have a moral imperative to help those who could use a hand up or a shoulder to lean on. But I absolutely don't believe in taking care of those who will not work or those who do work and yet feel entitled to be cared for while they follow their dreams.

Right now, health insurance is the hot issue. There is a cacaphony about it these days. But there is also noise about welfare and "cash for clunkers" and stimulus money, and various community activist groups and so many other issues. We are in a time of noise and more noise. A time of being intentionally told that all is in disorder. 85% of Americans are satisfied with their health insurance yet there is a health insurance crisis. Well we're not stupid. We know there's no crisis. All it is is noise that distracts us from remembering what it means to be Americans. Distracts us from living our own lives. At the same time, there seems to be a paucity of leaders reminding us of what it means to be Americans too. Reminding us of the good that we have here in this country.

Instead, we've got leaders who create noise and unrest and calumny. They shovel issue after issue upon us and insist, "We must pass legislation now!" All this activity just distracts us, is aimed aat filling us up with chaos so that we aren't focusing on living our own lives, on taking care of ourselves. All this noise puts us in a defensive stance ready to fend off the next blast, caught up in the chaos. Some have hailed at least one of those leaders as a messiah. My first question is, Does the real Messiah bring noise and unrest and calumny and distraction? Does He bring chaos?

And my second question: Where are the leaders we need right now? The ones who will remind us that this is America? The ones who will remind us of the ways we have addressed issues in the past? And we have addressed many issues - independence, slavery, the dust bowl, going to the moon, segregation, child labour. We've addressed issues that seemed utterly intractable. Where are the leaders who will remind us of that?

I don't want leaders who will solve everything for me. I want leaders I can trust, leaders who know what it is to be an American, leaders who will encourage the citizens of this country to find answers to the needs of our time. I want leaders who will trust us, the American people. Though we can and will get things wrong sometimes, we've proven trustworthy in the past. We are trustworthy now but we need leaders who will provide calm direction in the midst of this chaos.


Sibyl said...

Most heartily agree...and so do millions of others.

Much prayer is needed for we have some in office who grasp power to remove our precious Diving Blood and human blood-bought freedoms want to make America a socialist, facist, communist country.

I got the drift of your first post, but the second is better!

Woozy or are on target.

May the Healer continue to hover over you and dwell in you, and keep you in His Peace. Amen

Tim J. said...


Reagan was the last pol I remember who talked as if the American people really could get along without much government (get along much better, in fact).

A teacher or coach or scout leader who talked the way our leaders do would end up creating a group of timid mental invalids.