Good or Mammon?

How bad does it have to be before we accept what is required of us to
end this needless suffering?

My grandfather taught me that if you compromise on the little things, that
it's foregone that you'll cave when it's something big. 've not always
believed this, but the damage I did to my own conscience and character
with the compromises I've made has taught me he was right on. ?
Character doesn't strengthen with compromise, it atrophies.

And, so it is now in what we often call liberal, progressive Johnson
County. I don't know when the organized leadership of progressive
Johnson County and the Johnson County Democratic Party climbed on
this slippery slope. ?I do know it's there now.

1. Self-identified progressives are rationalizing and promoting passage of
a regressive tax this coming February, even though they know this tax
puts an unfair burden on the poor. ?They are doing this with a trifecta
state legislature that could pass a fair tax increase because they'd rather
hurt the poor than hurt their electability.

2. "Progressive" leaders ignored and/or helped cover-up the malpractice
of an elected county official because of liability to the party image and
getting out votes for the party (aka themselves). ?County officials voted to
support that official not because they believed he was right, but because
they feared the retaliation that was theirs to stop.

3. And, now, a Democratic congressman who was elected to end the war
has publicly stated?on his first day in office?that he will vote to escalate

This shouldn't be a huge surprise since not one County elected official
has attended one of the organized peace rallies or demonstrations for
the past year. ?A few candidates showed up at Peace Fest last fall,
including our newly elected congressman. ?It seems clear now what the
motive for some of those candidates' appearances were.

It doesn't take much investigation to see that as the status and prosperity
of local progressives increased their individual and collective willingness
to take real risk diminished.

There is a reigning fallacy that persists that we can retain our individual
wealth and status and win justice at the same time. ?This is not now nor
has it ever been true. ?Liberty and justice are not won that way. 's been
won by people who put everything on the line to do the right thing. ?
Neither Gandhi, King, Frederick Douglass, Mother Jones nor Harriet
Tubman was concerned with professional resumes or electability.

The Almighty Job and the social status it confers are the 21st century's
incarnation of fascist capitulation. ?We have come to believe that
agreeing with or doing whatever the boss (aka job security) says is right
and not doing what the boss says is wrong. ?We hold this as proper even
when we know the boss is hurting people. We abdicate personal
responsibility for this because we are merely "following orders."

We may cringe at the Nazi Germany analogy as too extreme, after all
we're not sending people to concentration camps in America. ?However,
we are. ?Guantanamo is exactly that. ?And until we see the direct
geometric connection between our everyday wrongful capitulations to
authority and status and cultivate our ability to confront them, we
participate in these atrocities regardless of our intentions.

When we own our own souls, we don't aspire to affluence; we are
revolted by it. ?We have the clarity to see the evil it fosters, and we want
to spare its damage. ?Generosity isn't giving away what one doesn't
need. ?That is simple sharing. Generosity is giving away or risking what
one does need to help others. Often people try to make a meaningless
distinction between money and "love" of money as being evil. ?When
character is shaved?even slightly--for money, affection for money more
than character is a given. ?

Hiding behind "I want to get along with people" or "I see both sides" can
be equally destructive. ?This response is a hedge when one of the
"sides" has economic or social power over us.

I'm sympathetic with the disappointment that we can't serve good and
mammon, but the exact truth is that we cannot. ?If we sit inside this truth
for a time, however, we find its reality is a good one. ?In this reality, wealth
and status are appropriately irrelevant because self-worth is not a
reason to strive. ?It is a given.

I believe defunding the war will happen, but not because of Democratic
leadership. ?It is being won by the people. Moreover, it is being won by
the people who risked their future and livelihoods in their call. ?These
people convinced others we needed leadership to end this immoral war. ?
Ironically, it's Republicans they most convinced, but it was the people
who led the way.

When the people practice selflessness, courage and confronting injustice
more, we heal more suffering. ?When we do not, all suffering is worse.