Thursday, October 2, 2008

Servile fearfulness

by John D Ramsey


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On my way to the office each morning, I drive passed a luxurious subdivision named Patrician Woods. It amuses me that people who can afford to live anywhere would choose to live in a neighborhood with such a pretentious name, unless, of course, they just don’t get it.

Do we not live in a country founded upon the ideal that “all men are created equal”? Of course, we all succumb to pride and presume at times to think that we are better than someone else is. Nevertheless, only a few have the brazenness to live in a neighborhood whose name derogates the Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps these residents do not arrogate themselves deliberately. Perhaps, their vocabulary enlightened, they would blush at the blatant assertion of their aristocracy. Moreover, I am confident that many residents of Patrician Woods feel that with their wealth comes greater social responsibility than merely keeping their trees trimmed and their dogs groomed. For this, I commend them, but I still smirk at the name of their subdivision.

Tomorrow, I will corral a couple dozen fifth through eighth graders while their moms (and a few dads) conduct a home-school association meeting. I decided sometime ago to use Shakespeare as the fulcrum of our activities. I hope to make Shakespeare accessible to them. My first inclination was to re-enact et tu Brute, but I then I visualized the horror on the moms’ faces upon seeing their sweet children parading around in blood-drenched togas. I might as well have chosen Lord of the Flies as my literary topic. I am staying with Julius Caesar, but we will act out only Act I, Scene 1.

I have a long vocabulary list, and ten discussion questions. I printed the scene on cardstock with the character’s name, a sequence number, the preceding line in small type, and the character’s line in big print. With four speaking parts, we will rotate kids in and out until everyone has a chance to be a tribune or a citizen. We will discuss that both Rome and sixteenth century England divided into social hierarchies. If I have time, I will ask them whether the United States has social hierarchy. Then I will ask them whether that is good or bad. Ultimately, I would like them to imagine living in a culture where an aristocracy receives preferential treatment from the government.

Of course, these kids are too young to understand the implications of the much-trumpeted moral hazard the Senate voted tonight to enact. How would they feel to know that their government considers some people more important than others? How would they feel if they realized that their financial future is now constrained to pay for the egregious excesses of Wall Street coupled with incompetent regulation from Washington? How angry would they be that liquidity for the powerful would not come at the cost of bankruptcy liquidation? How would they feel if they realized that Congress intends to abrogate existing law to accommodate their patrons while appropriating the finances of their constituents to get it done? I know how I feel. I feel far away from home.

In my home country “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11 (NIV) In my home country, its citizens are children “of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all . . . who were baptized into Christ have clothed [themselves] with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, [all are] one in Christ Jesus [and are] Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV) In my home country, “[We] are all are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

When I witness injustice, I long for the peace of my home country. The Apostle, John, wrote about his vision of my home country, saying,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation 21:1-7 (NIV)
Once Washington completes its bailout of Wall Street, it will be business as usual, i.e., the same old tired grind where the rich exploit the poor and the poor envy the rich. Politicians will continue to pervert justice at the whim of the powerful. Yet gone will be the illusion of America, the land of the free. Rather the newly emboldened Federal Government, like King James I and Julius Caesar before him, will “keep us all in servile fearfulness.”

So be it. I am a citizen of a greater country.

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