Cultural salve

An opening allegory: A fine house is built in 1952. Not ostentatious but finely built with a pleasing layout. A family buys the house newly built. They live there until the parents retire and sell it. It is bought by a middle aged couple who turn the second floor into a separate apartment to lease. They retire eventually and sell the house to a real estate person who converts the house to a four-plex. Finally in 2018 the house is condemned.

What happened to this house is common. Two conditions contributed to the demise of this house: the neighborhood slowly changed and the house was used as a source of maximized profit. Neither of these conditions felt it necessary to invest in the wellbeing of the house. No one championed the architectural ethos, the vibrancy of sustaining a solid, appreciated structure. If at the point of condemnation one were to purchase the house for one dollar with an agreement to full restoration, the expense would be exorbitant. The neighborhood as well would need to be changing to a better situation otherwise bulldozing the house would be the only rational decision.

This allegory represents the house of the United States of America since 1952.

Let us assume the electorate will reclaim the US for one dollar and start restoration. There is the same risk in asking the electorate to fix things as a restoration investor has that a profit may be possible – a long shot in either case. Democracy, with all its voting and representation machinations, is not a good approach for this situation. In 2016 some of the electorate were hasty in their judgment and purchased the wrong tool. Without using the power of the vote, what can an individual citizen do?

Similar to a serious burn on the skin, we apply a healing salve. There is no way to remove the skin and do without; we need the skin to heal while we continue to depend on the skin. Unfortunately, salves are not remarkable. The skin must be left in place to heal on its own terms – with the help of the salve.

The salve for our situation as citizens of a burned government is to apply compassion. Compassion, especially for the eager citizen, is not rewarding. But that is the whole point: gratifying ourselves to maximize personal ‘profit’ is what brought us here. In other words, ignoring our house since 1952 has occurred because we did not use compassion to sustain the ethos of our nation.

Continuing with the salve theme, our skin grows dry and flaky and even splits painfully at times. We can’t, for example, lease our feet or move out of our feet – we must seek curative methods. If the electorate does not apply compassion, our nation will continue to flake and split. Without compassion in our daily lives, derision has become commonplace; prejudice is unparalleled between common citizens; class discrimination has become deliberately destructive; most significantly, those who continue to seek maximized profit will lead the nation to be condemned – leaving room for a new international solution to take its place in the world neighborhood.

Most folks don’t like to use compassion habitually. It is easier to scratch the itch of prejudice than to deliberately allow another human to have the primary need, to seek comfort for them in their life rather than seek comfort for one’s self.

Using compassion allows citizens to begin at the foundation, to replace brick by brick the substructure of a growing society, a maturing culture. The nation – a very complex entity – will wobble and waffle its way through our current dysfunction. Without compassion, however, the electorate risks condemnation.

Ancient Mariner


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