Craig Barnes: Seeding the Possibility of a New Story

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Today's show is a guest commentary by Craig Barnes.

Craig speaks regularly on Political Issues in Santa Fe and other parts of the country. He has authored several books and is a regular commentator on Nation Public Radio. His latest book "Democracy at the Crossroads" is scheduled for release later this year. Please visit the Guest Bios page for his full bio.

Today's show is an excerpt from Craig's recent talk, here in Santa Fe, on September 16, 2009. This talk is the first in a series on "Psyche and Politics," sponsored by C.G. Jung Institute of Santa Fe.

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Excerpt from Craig's talk ...

Here we are in the fall again, and the only thing that seems certain is that the sun sets further south along the rim of the Jemez, already the geese are flying, staying only a few days at the high lakes, moving with the seasons as they have done for millennia. Autumn is regular, more or less, but that is pretty much the end of regularity. Kennedy, the one man in the Senate who knew his mind, absolutely, is dead; pundits write off Obama as too little of this and too much of that, health care reform is uncertain; Pakistan is nearly as divided as Afghanistan, pinned by ancient Islam like a butterfly to the wall of its feudal past. Israel, which was awarded its homeland by a self-conscious and guilty Europe is holding onto territory taken by force and is locked into a title search tracing back nearly 3,000 years. Here at home the jobless are wallowing in the collapse of middle class expectations, and the rich are seeking protection behind slogans of outrage against socialism. Government gives to the wealthy secure patents, secures their local advantage with tariff barriers, protects their trade secrets, grants tax credits for drilling and subsidies for start ups, creates limited liability corporations to insulate them from failure, but this does not keep those who enjoy these protections from attacking government that might protect the health, education and jobs for those who are not rich. Government assistance to the poor is socialism they say while government assistance to the rich is capitalism.

Hypocrisy was the point of attack for Jesus. “You are like whitened sepulchers!” he cried. I love the image. The Pharisees were like faded old sarcophagi, whitened in the sun, as if the old dogma could provide the inspiration for a new day.

Hypocrisy is perhaps the cardinal sin and it dogs us still. Television advertises with tongue in cheek that it will make us sexually satisfied, prominent, safe and into real Americans. A million songs on our I-pods, our gateway to the internet and to all kinds of free speech, celebrate violence and rage far more than beauty and truth.

This is a kind of social and intellectual chaos that the formulations of our past seem ill equipped to explain. A theory, if we had one, should sort out all these elements, organize them and make sense of them. But no scientific theory can today explain the rage in the Republicans in congress against social change, or greed in our banks, or despair in our songs, or failure in our marriages, or drop outs above 45% at Santa Fe High. We are in a stage in the evolution of our story when we seem to lurch from pillar to post, for war and against war; for any measures including torture, and for the rule of law to abolish torture; for a black man for president but only if he lifts the white man’s burdens, and since he does not, then for someone else who will destroy government altogether.

In a profound sense, perhaps more than at any time in history, this generation lacks ideological orientation. Chaos does that, of course. We are overwhelmed with information and unable to organize it; deluged with opinion and unable to plumb the depths of it; heartsick at a thousand losses and sufferings and unable to pray. We are uncertain in which direction Mecca may lie.

And what are the stories upon which we have relied, in the past, to make sense of all this, to point us toward a god or a truth or the rib structure of what is, upon which we could place our faith? 

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