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Rembrandt: The Parable of the Rich Fool, 1627

One of the multitude said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses." — Luke 12:13–15, World English Bible

"Some days I wonder where we think we're trying to take ourselves."

I have never been judged as one of the brighter bulbs on the Christmas Tree. This makes me a more or less prototypical American, for we were originally rejected stock: refugees and convicts, renegades and conniving scoundrels. Even the Pilgrims were more budding capitalists than pious pioneers, for they arrived with backers promising wealth in exchange for their sacrifices, servicing enabling debt more motive for their perseverance in this world, if not necessarily the next. Our founding myths largely ignore these truths, insisting instead upon a certain unconfirmable self-evidence that we were somehow, unlike every other culture in the history of this world, created more or less equal. Above all, we seem to revel in characterizing our fellows as Stew-pid, so stupid that they cannot even properly spell the word describing themselves.

We have a long history of calling reason oppression and strongly resisting that trumped up oppression on Constitutional grounds.
The Whiskey Tax was opposed by distillers as a flagrant example of taxation without representation, even though the tax was duly passed by Congress and signed into law by none other than The Father of Our Country to repay Revolutionary War debt. Washington, himself, led the forces to put down the budding insurrection in Western Pennsylvania. A few protestors were arrested and later pardoned, and the vast bulk of the complainers dispersed without achieving more than a noisy ruckus. Those sincerely uninterested in paying the tax relocated to Kentucky, where weak Federal authority rendered the tax essentially uncollectible. The American Way as practiced back in the day was noisy and contentious, fueled by libelous charges and often resolved by some theatrical show of force.

In our own time, libelous charges circulate via whatever medium might be most popular at the moment. Entire industries, such as they might be, exist solely to make up shit to foment that unflagging American spirit. We seem to love this unending contentiousness. Beyond reason, far beyond even the more generous interpretations of rationality, we seem to become genuine fools for something or someone with even the most modest provocation, especially if our secularly sacred constitutional rights seem threatened, and the bloviators always insist that even the odd fart in any wind terminally threatens our "God-given" rights. These tussles over rights would easily be proven wrong, or at least wrong-headed, if we subscribed to a common form of reason, which, of course, we do not. We take pride in making little distinction between belief and fact, reason and feeling, prejudice and compassion. Any old sensation seems leveragable into a genuine affront. Even something as simple and reasonable as a vaccination easily divides this "indivisible" nation.

The Pandemic sparks a whole new generation of dark conspiracies, clear evidence that another oppressive force seems to genuinely be out to get me and everyone like me. Those who don't agree certainly seem Stew-pid, for the evidence seems as clear as it could possibly be to any raised and weaned and nurtured on the long stream of prior conspiracies. We would all rather be left alone to live in pursuit of liberty, even if the means of pursuit seem to require a sometimes overwhelming fealty to those who seem determined to demean us. We worship God but work for The Man. Like our Pilgrim forebears, we understand that The Man reluctantly butters our bread and that we'd better consent to be led if we expect our labors to feed us. We seem to worship greater oppression than any we so emphatically complain about. It's the American Way.

The Pandemic couldn't give a good goddamn what anyone believes. It seeks not fealty, but only evolutionary dominion, just like every entity in the history of this world. Disbelieving evolution creates a definitely complicating context within which to contest this contagion. It seems to cheat at cards, and however hard we might argue in favor of our own species' God-given rights, it seems ever more determined to simply violate them with stunning impunity. Stay At Home Directives might seem to violate everything our forefathers died to preserve. Death by storming the state capitol preserves nothing but our founding Stew-pidity, the one we seem born to defend and destined to never fully comprehend. I report these events fully acknowledging that I never was accused of being one of the brighter bulbs on anyone's Christmas Tree, but like everyone self-proclaims here, as least I'm not as Stew-pid as those morons over there. Some days I wonder where we think we're trying to take ourselves.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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