I've been following to our political dialogue for many decades now, and through the years there are always new fallacies in our common belief system about America that bother me. Probably the longest-standing complaint I have is the belief that America somehow means the Economy and therefore it should be run like a business. That seemed to be the theme of the Republican National Convention.
That's so wrong-headed it makes me want to send everyone to their bedrooms without supper! Or put coal in their stockings"
America is not a business! If I had to pick a metaphor for the United States of America, I would say that America is an organization of Tribes, a people who share a HOME together. When we share a home, we are either family or friends or a tribe. If nothing else, the thing we have in common is that we share a space together.
If America is our Homeland, than perhaps we'd better figure out what we believe: is our home a business or is it the place we live in, thrive in, share in?
This idea that America is somehow a business is the endgame of the capitalist system. We are the most corporate state in the world, founded by the East India Trading Company during the start of the Industrial Revolution. So let's look at the needs of a business and see if this is really what our collective desire for our home is.
1. In business, the bottom line is profit. And the more money you have, the more power and prestige. If this was a family home, there would be a never-ending competition with other homes to have more and more things to prove your worth. Unfortunately, this has become the standard American goal. (Time to watch The Story of Stuff again.)
2. The business is of central importance, so anything not related to work and profits is secondary. If our home were run like this, there'd be no time to raise a family, indulge in pleasure, have a conscience or exercise our creativity or our individuality.
3. The environment is also captive to business' needs. So if the business needs to poison the air and water of our house to be profitable, then tough luck, kids! Just cover your mouth when you cough.
4. In a business, not everyone can be boss! There's a hierarchy involved and a system of merits and demerits. Although if you work hard, maybe someday you too can help run the show.
5. A business often demands competition and ruthlessness. So we have to train up our people to be ruthless and domineering.
6. And sometimes a business just fires everyone and moves overseas. Sorry kids, you have until midnight to move out! And leave all your stuff -- we bought it for you and it's ours.
Is this beginning to sound like patriarchy at its worst? The image I got as I was writing this was of Viking warriors raising their sons to compete and kill for the throne. The paradox is that business is just as savage, and yet it seems so much more objective. Our capitalistic business model demands the annihilation of all feeling values and common interests. Except of course, profits.
I, for one, have never wanted to live in an economy. I want to live in a culture. I want to live in a tribe. So perhaps I'd better define what a tribe means to me. The group of friends I have refer to themselves as a tribe, people with common interests. They are independent and individual and yet are available to work for the good of the whole. Of the ancient tribes, the Celts are the ones I know best. The Celts were an independent and yet fiercely loyal people. Yes, I know they were so independent that they couldn't unite to fight the Romans, etc. etc. That's only looking at them from the outside. We need to look within ourselves before we turn our attention out to the rest of the world. We need to know who we are, what we believe and what we are willing to do to live up to our own myth.
What I see in Celtic tribes is the responsibility of the queen or chief to keep the people secure and prosperous while taking into account all members of the tribe. The Celts felt the tribe was the family. What happened to one happens to all. It might seem idealistic, but I am a mythologist and I believe these ancient archetypes still live within us. Another image I use to denote the equality and group consciousness of the Aquarian Age is also a good description of a modern tribe -- The Round Table. It symbolizes the totality of talents, values and people which form the foundation of the tribe. It is the table where equal individuals sit to solve their common problems. Only a tribe will care to look at all the aspects of our common life and work to enhance them. A business isn't in the business of caring.
So what would America look like if we thought of ourselves as a Tribe? We would be a group of people with common interests and common goals. We would work to make sure all our people were fed and clothed and working for themselves and for the advancement of our common goals. Like a family, we would care for the sick among us, share in the joys and pains of life, and yes, do work that is satisfying and necessary.