Posted by: sailingspirit | November 17, 2012

American Democracy in Hospice

When something is flawed, it takes finagling to make it work.  Sometimes finagling means lying.  American democracy is a system that, if everyone told the truth, wouldn’t actually work.  So then, we are forced to make a choice about which is more important: being truthful or keeping a flawed system operational.  Thus far, Americans have chosen the latter, even if the lesser of two evils.  That said, when perfect honesty is not an option, where is that line drawn–where doing wrong makes it right?

I recall our mothers teaching us, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  In fact, it’s embedded into our culture as an unwritten (but elbow-jabbed) rule that when stating the truth is not helpful, zip it.  For example, telling a near-death cancer patient “you look like hell” may be spot-on true but accomplishes nothing good.  Silence is a lie of omission, but what about when you’re on the spot and you’re expected to answer?  It was not, “If you can’t say anything nice, lie.”  Though that’s what many do.  It would have been better to learn, “If you can’t tell the truth, tell a bigger truth.”

So, how about the bigger truth about governance, both what we hunger for and which system addresses that best?  Let’s just put it out there.

When disparity between the Haves and Have-Nots gets too wide, communism starts looking good.  People want fairness and they want everyone to receive a good share.  No one left behind.  But when fairness and equality are asserted in ways that pinch too hard on individuality, customization, and expression, democracy starts sounding good.  One size does not fit all, in fact it fits most poorly.  Thus the pendulum of desire swings back and forth, trying to figure out how we can get everyone’s needs attended to when in fact neither system attends to the majority’s needs very well.  After many such swings, especially several successive ones in the last century such that they remain in the collective memory, people are catching on.  They want the idyllic 3rd option: everyone is treated like an individual, equality does not equal sameness, and there is more than enough to go around so that everyone can have what they need whatever level or form of need that may be.  This system does exist, but as yet so few have dared to try it:  It’s God’s Kingdom System!  He is both Source and Governor, wholeness and justice and attentiveness.  That’s what people around the world want, but in order to get it we have to be willing to make some big changes.  Not the least of which is realizing that, contrary to initial assumption, getting more freedom sometimes means giving up some freedoms because everything must have a boundary and that includes boundaries for our own good.  Are we ready to admit the unknown could be a happier place?


The American democratic system is in hospice.  We know the end is near, we are planning in short-terms rather than long terms, but some awkward truths remain in effect:  1) We cannot treat it as dead yet, because it’s not, so it’s not right to put it in the coffin and walk away; 2) Neither is it what it used to be, so we can’t expect it to perform like it did before.  Injections and pumping actions will only serve as temporary, artificial, hope-disappointing stalls of the inevitable; 3) We are not in control of the final moment, so neither can we simply shoot it and get it over with.  What, then, is the appropriate action to take with a dying system?  Do we show any less respect at this stage, as if the dying are beneath us, a wasted gesture?  We could acknowledge, eulogetically, the triumphs and weaknesses that serve as our inspirations and lessons.  I have not yet seen, from our Founding Fathers or otherwise, a plan for peaceful succession of the USA, an exit strategy for our national system.  Whose Will and Testament do we plan to honor?  Who is the most appropriate Executor?  Will it be an acquisition, a merger?  Precisely how does a nation step down and another ruling system take office?  Where are the overlaps?  What are the lead times?  What ceremony do we pageant?  What are the fail safes and backup plans?  What gets swept away, as refuse and relic, and what kind of readiness is made?  Is it realistically possible for this nation to have a peaceful transition of power when much of the stepping down must be our own idolatries?  Or will this have to be an aggressive takeover no matter by Good or Evil?

To everything there is a season, a time to build and to tear down, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to mourn and a time to weep, a time to collect stones and a time to scatter stones.  Human-devised governance systems are encompassed within “everything,” and at this point we’ve tried all but 1 remaining method (Christ’s Kingship here on Earth) to the proof-positive conclusion they do not suitably substitute for the Real Thing.  American democracy included.  Thus, someday it must end, to make a way for The Better.  It cannot be avoided.  But it can be done with elegance, respect, and poise if we choose to.  Yes, there can be a touch of sweetness even in this.  Poignancies remembered.  Relief embraced.  The Best is now Come!  Let us rejoice in this unique Homecoming, where Home comes to us!



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