Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Walking Away from Omelas and Generational Looting

Science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin once penned a classic short story called “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. As Wikkipedia describes the story, Omelas is a utopian city of happiness and delight, whose inhabitants are smart and cultured. Everything about Omelas is pleasing, except for the secret of the city: the good fortune of Omelas requires that an unfortunate child be kept in filth, darkness and misery, and that all her citizens know of this on coming of age.
Some of them walk away; the story ends “The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”
I mention this story because life is now somewhat imitating art. Many people, the ruling class, those connected to government, and many of the rest of us frankly, are living a better life than our own efforts and service to others would merit. We are building our own Omelas, not on the present misery and pain of one child, but on the future pain and misery of a vast multitude of children in the next generation. We do this by funding unsustainable government largess via debt. We are impoverishing the next generation in order to give ourselves a materially- but not morally, better life today. The Democrats are doing it, almost all Republicans are doing it.
I suppose the politicians voting for all of this plan on their own children being in tomorrow’s upper class, because their policies will destroy what is left of today’s middle class. Count me among those who choose to walk away from an Olemas forged on the misery and impoverishment of the next generation. That’s why I’m in Neighbors, to find a way for citizens to get candidates on the ballot and elect them outside of a DC-controlled two-party system that has degenerated into a Game of Thrones.
The great Preacher Charles G. Finney was once practically abducted by a man who took him into the back of a building and locked the door behind him. The fellow then produced a revolver and leveled it at Finney. He told Finney that he had killed two men with the gun. Then he asked the preacher if there was hope for a man so wicked as he. Finney assured him that there was hope for him in one place- in the forgiveness purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
The man with the gun then told Finney that he owned the saloon that they were standing in. He said that men would spend their last dollar on booze, and he would sell it. Wives would come in and place their babies on the counter and beg him not to sell their husbands any more liquor. He would run them off. “Is there any hope for a sinner like me?” he asked. Finney assured him that there still was hope.
Then the man confessed, among other crimes and outrages, that he ran a crooked gambling hall in that saloon. He said, “A man leaves the saloon with some money left in his pocket, and we take his money away from him in our gambling hall. Men have gone out of that gambling den to commit suicide when their money, and perhaps entrusted funds, were all gone. Is there any hope for a man like me?’
Finney again told the man that their was hope for the repentant sinner in Christ. The man did repent. He spent the night smashing up his saloon and gambling club. In the morning he went home and for the first time became kind to his much-abused wife and daughter. The whole family joined the local church, and the man spent the rest of his life warning others of the evils of alcohol and gambling addiction.
That man was driven to repentance in part because he had to look into the faces of the men he cheated, and see the destructive effects of what he was selling. It is my view that politicians and lobbies and businesses who are pushing for programs financed by debt (such as the recent Medicaid expansion) are in worse spiritual condition than this man. They mean to loot the next generation in order to enrich themselves, but unlike him they will be insulated from the destruction they bring to families in the process.
The guilt this man felt for his wicked deeds brought him to repentance. Today outwardly respectable men push for gain by looting the next generation and feel no guilt at all. Instead, they commend themselves, and pass off what they are doing as some sort of good work! They are celebrated in the newspapers. They sit in churches every Sunday and the thought that they are doing anything they need to repent of never even crosses their minds. Truly, that former saloon and gambling hall owner, who killed two people and beat his wife and daughter, will gain entrance to the kingdom of Heaven before these men. Wicked though he was, he saw the harm he was doing and was moved to repent of his work. These men, who should know full well that the “good” they mean to do will be purchased with the misery of others, not only fail to feel guilty for their sins, but are actually proud of what they are doing!