Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Are We Crazy?
Giant stone heads on the slopes of Rano Raraku are all that remain of the culture of the Rapanui on Easter Island. These heads have come to symbolize widespread cultural obsession. They stand for self-destructive excess. Like the Mayans, the Minoans, and countless others the Rapanui are no more. They are the historical Atlanteans, sunk by their own hubris into the ignominy of unexplained extinction.
We are erecting stone heads, nowadays, grander and more impressive than ever before. A few months ago Congress passed a $700 billion bailout plan, and now we are considering an $825 billion dollar stimulus package to go along with it. The voracious appetite of American consumer culture, sponsored and fomented by extremes of corporate greed impossible to fathom, has brought us to the point where we seemingly have no option but to dump everything we have into the abyss.
This is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue. It is a bipartisan suicide pact. True, the Republicans are not happy with this current plan which has too much social services and infrastructure in it for their tastes - they prefer the money go directly to banks and businesses. But there are only a few lonely voices in the wilderness actually crying "madness"!
In general, I would prefer a government interested in infrastructure, and healthcare, and education, than one interested in war and defense. In general I agree with Obama that most of these areas are worth investing in, but I completely disagree that the proper response to economic turmoil is spend more money. Obama has joined right in with everyone else in Washington talking about defending "our way of life" and "securing the American dream". We are suffering from a national delusion that we are entitled to our present standard of living.
We are not entitled. We are using a vastly disproportionate amount of the world's resources and creating a vastly disproportionate amount of the world's waste. This has to end. It will end, one way or another. It can either end because we finally wake up from our insanity and begin to submit to the demands of justice, or it will end catastrophically and someone centuries from now will stand looking in amazement at the absurd stone heads we've left behind.