“Turn, turn, my wheel! This earthen jar
A touch can make, a touch can mar;
And shall it to the Potter say,
What makest thou? Thou hast no hand?
As men who think to understand
A world by their Creator planned,
Who wiser is than they.”
Keramos (The Potter’s Song), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
God’s plans, God’s ways, some clerics and laymen say are mysteries and beyond finding out. God is a mystery. Life is a mystery. Many world religions, Christian, Jewish, Buddhism, and countless other good societies preach that God’s Potter’s hand is ever present and shaping our lives. It is a divine plan, many will tell you and is and has been predestined and ordained from before the beginning of time. We should not question the ways of the Almighty because it is His will, we are told. And we are but His witnesses. Yet in all our ongoing experiential journey as we human creatures live and trod upon this old globe, often we become bewildered as collective deer in the headlights, not knowing where we are or where we are going. We, some of us, do the best we can to grasp meaning from our very existence. Yet as thinking creatures how can we not question the rationale of many historical events written in stone, some in blood that many attempt to explain away as part of God’s plan? All the bones and curls fixed silently in the dust and clay of time once were men and women. These were strewn about the planet over the eons of war and dissonance and deliberate genocidal acts of those in temporary power at a point in time. And the seeker of truth in us all seems to fire the eternal questions, “What are we doing? Why must there be so much suffering? Why should the powerful at any given time in history be able to oppress and cause hurt to the meek and defenseless? Can we stop the madness and disregard for our fellow man? Is might right?” And if truly we are created in God’s image, isn’t our trait to question, to reason a manifestation of His greatest gift of all: Free will?
It has been said that human nature is such that man has little empathy for his neighbor. Instead of following the teachings of Jesus and Buddha, man seems to care little about the welfare of his neighbor, his fellow man. As long as you are happy, well-fed, employed, and feel at peace with your environment, why fret about your neighbor and his well-being? Mind your own business we are told often. Even humans as early as Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
So goes the thinking when mass extinctions of humanity happen at the hand of those in power who cause the deaths of thousands and millions of their own kind. Witness Adolf Hitler and his extermination of the Jews, say, about 7 million during the Holocaust. If you were Jewish your politics was definitely wrong during the Third Reich, and you were tattooed with a number and sent off to death camps like Auschwitz to be gassed and incinerated.
But just when you thought Hitler and the Nazis were good at mass production of death, enter Stalin. Joseph Stalin was much more prolific in the killing of his fellow man, his Russian neighbors to the tune of over 30 million of them during his infamous Purge. Those he suspected of their wrong allegiances and political correctness, he snuffed out like any efficient dictator would. But the witnesses of such mass murder and extinctions seemed to see the unaffected countrymen of Germany and Russia going about their lives with a business-as-usual attitude. As long as German and Russian citizens were not persecuted or their families tortured or killed, they had little to no perceptible interest in the goings-on any more than a Wildebeest does as his neighbor is being eaten alive by a Lion.
Those immune from the ongoing carnage, persecution, or financial destruction of their neighbors seemed to look the other way out of fear, perhaps, or out of lack of empathy for other people who lived just down the block. So it is in America today with more interest focused on the Super Bowl than the plight of neighbors who lost their jobs, and have had to take to living in their cars.
Empathy. Even the very word has a hollow sound. It is a word used rarely by most humans who live in America and other major nations and societies about the planet. Making money is the name of the game nowadays. Survival is paramount. And if there’s not enough to go around, guess who gets the hamburger? This phenomenon of me-ism lives even in the bosoms of those who already have more than they could ever use or want. Yes, they seem to want it all when giving up a little could change the planet. So goes it with those rich taxpayers in America who cringe at the thought of having higher taxes levied upon them even though they would go on living in luxury while thousands, perhaps millions of soul might be spared. Recently Warren Buffet 2nd richest man in America said that he believed the rich should be taxed more. Warren Buffett on Taxes Imagine that.
It is sad that many of the buzzwords and talking points of survival seem to hinge on many perceived absolutes that we parrot back and forth to our fellow man. And the word “Empathy” is never used when discussing the problem of illegal immigration, for example. Why not? Well, there are rules, laws, you know, about coming to America, and if you are illegal, well, you are deemed to be a second-class human who does not mind breaking our laws. You are an undesirable. Illegals, it is argued, sap our tax dollars to pay for the education, medical care, and welfare of you, your family and other groups of non-Americans who have no right to those funds. So it is further argued. And so it goes. You couldn’t call it caring about your fellow man, of course. So much for Christian charity. No wonder Jesus preached at length about how you were supposed to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Or “If a man bids you go with him a mile, go with him two.” The parable of the Good Samaritan seems to curdle the blood of most Christian Capitalists nowadays where you are told to emulate giving, giving, and more giving of the bounties you have gathered in your own life to those fellow humans beaten and battered and lying in a ditch along the road. Perhaps caring about the welfare of your neighbor is the most arduous exercise one can ever take on. Maybe that is why Jesus spent so much time preaching to the masses about giving instead of taking. And whose theme of most of the parables he taught to the masses was about love and giving, not showing contempt and scorn for your neighbor.
In studying the gaggle of Republican candidates for president, it is obvious that they are all hat and no cattle when it comes to showing charity for those masses of voters they are trying to fool into voting for them next November. For all their smiles and “trust me” body signals and parables they tell they are out to gut programs that help the common man, the working man. It’s no secret. It is posted all over the Internet, their beliefs, their feelings about and lack of empathy for their fellow man. It shows up as red flags in their voting records and in their stated beliefs that we all have the same opportunities here in America and should just go out, start a company, and get rich. And forget about government help. Of any kind. Just vote for me so I can get on the government dole. While you go out and beat the bushes for a job in the Free Market. And, oh yeah, good luck.
Newt Gingrich is for privatization of government programs not to make government more efficient as he contends, but so corporations can rake off big profits off the top as commissions and eventually charge more as Americans forget what they gave away. Newt said he would love to see Social Security atrophy from lack of funding so that it would wither and die on the vine. Newt is looking out for us. Not.
Rick Perry wants to privatize everything. He said that Social Security is unconstitutional. As governor of Texas he tried to force feed schoolgirls in Texas a vaccine to prevent uterine cancer. Only thing was, before he was headed off at the pass, Perry was exposed as having a personal interest in the vaccine and the company that produced it. Funny how he was not impeached, but then where you gonna get a vote from Texans that would challenge Perry. And don’t it beat all, this bully ‘em style of thinking comes from a man who advocated that his own state of Texas secede from the Union. Scary. Don’t think Perry is too empathetic about seeing his neighbor prosper or win.
Romney smooth out says he thinks government sucks but then vacillates on key points and changes colors like a Galveston Bay flounder to dance better to the tune at hand whatever it morphs into being at any given time. And the more he blends in the more nothing comes out of his mouth. His voting record is clear on helping his fellow man. He wants government to stop having to fund people programs so the “Free Market” can take care of people. Yeah, right. Guess that’s why AARP is so adamantly against privatizing Social Security. His being born a millionaire thanks to his automaker mogul daddy does not seem to register. He thinks all Americans have the same opportunity for success that he did, I’m afraid.
Ron Paul. Now here is a paradox of human values and ideas. His head is good on many issues, such as bringing our troops home from foreign soil and to stop borrowing and spending on nation-building. Auditing the Federal Reserve is a good one, Dr. Paul. After all America is an open society, right? But he votes no on every bill about raising minimum wage that winds its way through the halls of Congress. He voted twice for the $2 Trillion Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich. Sarcastically Dr. Paul berates people for wanting government to help them in any way. He chastises them for thinking that government is supposed to take care of them from “cradle-to-grave.” He makes it sound like a sin for a single mother to get some SCHIPS government assistance to help pay for her child’s healthcare and to make it more affordable.
Many more points could and should be made about those who are running for public office and have no inclination in helping Americans who live in the greatest military and financial power the world has ever seen. First, by endless borrowing on perpetual wars of invasion, America has borrowed and spent its future down the toilet forever, it seems. The spending went to the Military Industrial Complex that Ike warned us to beware of as it became enmeshed with those in power in Washington. So we not only ran out of money we are in the hole a cool $15 Trillion with no end in sight as to the ongoing borrowing deficits necessary to keep America afloat. Many newsletters on finance send out ominous warnings about doomsday scenarios in the near future. Inflation due to our wanton and indiscriminate printing of more dollars is about to hit America like a giant tsunami.
Obama’s president’s commission on debt reduction got a goose egg for their efforts to reduce spending. It is clear that a combination of raising taxes on the rich cutting spending on people programs for the poor and working man would help us from free falling further, but no one is willing to do that. Grover Norquist has brow-beaten all Congressmen to vow to not raise taxes period. And the Republicans went along with it. They are scared not to.
So here we sit as a collective nation, a world all made of the same clay, wondering what we can do to correct the results of a world and nations gone mad with spending money and becoming the biggest debtor nation in history. There is not much empathy for one’s fellow man in these times. It seems to be a world of every man for himself. Of Dog eat Dog. We should have known. We should have turned off the TV and looked into the destruction of America by a thousand cuts. We simply could not force ourselves to believe that Man’s avarice and lack of caring for his neighbor is such a primary driving force in the hearts of humans.