Why You Hate Your Life: The Corporate and Civil, Locke and Rousseau

   The Morning after the State of the Union.

   Simply put, we are not doin' so great.

   So, let us decide why we hate our lives the way we hate our lives.

   We cannot decide, as usual, between Locke and Rousseau. 

    That is, we cannot make up our heart about the usual American conundrum; individual rights and the common good. Locke would tell us nothing is wrong so long as we do not immediately harm another person by our acts (some would say deliberately harm), all the while ignoring the unintended consequences to our inevitable community.

   Emile would offer up this platitude; we are all connected, inextricably intertwined and as a result we all have to do our part. Many will have to do more than their assigned part and, as the Governor of Virginia said last night, "to whom much is given, much is expected." So, the blessed and brave among us, consigned greater material wealth or inner resources, will have to do more than the piteous loser in the capitalist system of revolving riches.

   We all want good for those we love. We all want to broaden the sphere of the loved ones. We mostly feel guilty about our lack of love for that fellow over there in comparison to what we feel (and so how we act) toward this fellow here near us.

   We differ on how to do the greater good for all. Locke wants to build the giant corporate house in favor of a rising tide. Rousseau would prefer to have as many aboard the ship as possible in the rising of the tide. People outside the boat often drown, we know.

   It is the American enigma; individual rights and the common good.

   Now, as to why you hate your life, it is because you have assimilated the contradiction inwardly, without meaningful reflection on why the contravening arguments wreak their daily havoc on your viscera. You want everyone to be free, healthy and, if not happy, at least marginally content. You do not want to take total responsibility for another person's success. You do not want to cause someone else to be a loser but you are not willing to spend all your time guaranteeing some inveterate losers will find an Eden where laziness is the order of the day.

   Meanwhile, you have left the farm. You are no longer close to the earth. You have become one of those fellows who busies himself going to meetings, issuing gloomy reports, filing endless complaints, passionate only about preserving your position. The artificiality of your existence condemns you to a lifetime of acid reflux.

   What to do?

    I would suggest a bit of theological rumination from a Christian perspective. To wit, note that Jesus taught meditation simultaneous with action, and action out of a meditative center.

   Meditative religion, as opposed to Oprah-ic spirituality, or even meditative religiosity, is not uniformly self-approving. Neither is it …"the sound in my ears like the sentence of my doom and the doom of my age." Human progress is, historically, the result of human sacrifice; not the victimization of some unlucky, unwilling offering, but the direct result of one person who says "No."

   The revolutionary wants to believe a corrupt society can be transformed into a righteous one immediately. A brick is removed here, replaced with another there, and a culture is transformed. The meliorist thinks steady, gradual improvement is possible, and both are hostages to fate.  The Christian Realist (Christ has some to us from outside ourselves to show us truths about God we could never discern by ourselves) is a Tragic Revolutionary, following a religious path broken open by immediate personal sacrifice (the Revolutionary) and kept alive by the faithful follower (the Idealist).

    The Christian Realist sees how the powerful event suddenly alters the geo-political landscape but he also sees how the over-zealotry of the aftermath can actually reverse a progressive trend. He is a revolutionary and a reformer; the plow and the ox. He is the instrument to disassemble the soil and the beast of burden to cover over the seed of life.

   Tomorrow-Friday,( I Hope)-Paganism Set Against Meditative Religion (Christianity, in this case) in the State of the Union.

   In the meantime, consider the Hebrew word "Teshuva," the word we often translate "repentance." The root meaning may be closer translated "return." What if it means, in ancient terms, that to repent is not just to change direction, but to return to the source? What if we actually repent in direction relation to the way we reconnect with the Source?

  Opinions expressed here are mine, not those of my church or any person.

2 thoughts on “Why You Hate Your Life: The Corporate and Civil, Locke and Rousseau”

  1. You’ve highlighted a divide in these last two posts which soundbite politics will never bridge. When I hear the radio talk show hosts, both national and local (San Antonio area), repeat the same mantra that the one and only reason to be in business is for owner/stockholder profit, I wonder how many listeners recognize that something deep in the American spirit is being snuffed out by that thinking. We certainly have left the farm. Community has been sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and corporate profit.
    When big is good, and bigger is better, there comes a tipping point where many become superfluous to the economic system. I worry how this “let them eat cake” mentality will play in the coming months.

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