Of Prophets and Loss
By Richard Girard
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
--Proverbs 31:8-9, KJV
There are days that I feel a great kinship to the prophets of the Old Testament. The whole "The voice of Him That cries in the wilderness..." idea resonates within me, because I feel like I am shouting at a human world that has decided to destroy itself regardless of the warnings it receives from a variety of sources, and the chances which it is given to correct its ways.
Our world--and I use this in the sense of the world that humanity shares with one another--has become a world where it is only important that the needs of the individual be served, or the small group which exists solely to serve and advance the needs of a small group of individuals, and never those of humanity as a whole. Even government, whose very reason for being in the United States of America is to serve and protect the people of the nation as a whole, has been co-opted by the giant corporations to serve them and their needs, ahead of the needs of the American people as a whole. This has led to the near destruction of the American middle-class and the devastation of our industrial power and infrastructure-- physical, economic, and social--required to maintain that middle-class.
Eleven years ago, I wrote an article for OnLineJournal.com titled "Madness," in which I laid out what I believed was one of the most important underlying causes of our problems. Five years later, I republished this article in OpEdNews, when it disappeared from the archives of OnLineJournal. The first paragraph states the following:
"I have come to an inescapable conclusion: the United States of America has gone around the bend. Not take a Valium agitated, or take a Prozac depressed, but load the syringe with Thorazine, call the attendants, and get the strait-jacket insane. Some of this insanity can be laid at the feet of dogmatic, fundamentalist Christians, but they are not solely responsible for our nation's descent into madness, and we collectively bear at least an equivalent degree of blame."
Things haven't changed, as far as I can tell. We still have people who follow the idea of the Calvinist doctrine of "the Elect," whether they are religious or not, and use it as an excuse for the most abhorrent forms of hatred and bigotry imaginable.
Later in the article, I wrote three paragraphs which summed up my feelings as to what was at the heart of this "madness:"
"I feel that we are headed for a time of economic hardship such as this nation has not seen since the Great Depression. I hope, whether this economic catastrophe occurs or not, we will then rediscover the truth of the Greek philosopher Epicurus' observation that 'Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.'
It is also vital, whether this disaster occurs or not, that we as a society examine not only our personal values and beliefs, but those of our society and our nation. This inquiry should include the existence of God, the nature of Love, the value of Truth, and the utility of Ideas: nothing should be exempted.
To doggedly adhere to any system of belief or knowledge without regular, critical examination of its underlying assumptions--to winnow out those things which are demonstrably wrong--is the essence of madness. It leads to a repetition of errors, while expecting a different outcome. Dogmatic failure to examine underlying assumptions would have prevented Jesus from teaching His Message, Galileo from discovering Jupiter's largest moons, Pasteur from discovering germ theory, and Jefferson from writing the Declaration of Independence."
I spoke of the inherent evil of polluting our world, and destroying our environment, long before Pope Francis I did. I quoted Abraham Lincoln in that article, and his concerns about the future of overwhelming corporate power: "I see in the future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow. The money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all the wealth is aggregated into a few hands and the republic is destroyed." (Letter to William F. Elkins, 11/21/64)