Required American Reading


The Irony of American History by Reinhold NiebuhrThe Irony of American History by Reinhold Niebuhr

Obviously, there are many problems currently with current American government in place, and it is extremely frustrating to watch them (not) work. Part of the problem in Washington at the moment in my estimation is the degree of ideological purity being exercised particularly by the right. There is a consistent belief that consequences be damned, spending should be cut dramatically with no rise in revenues. What’s more, it appears so far that they are willing to throw the rest of the nation under the bus to score political points.

Mr. Niebuhr exposits that Americans misidentified the source of the nation's prosperity as being due to their superior virtue and ethic, rather than the technological achievements available to them at the time and the lack of competitors for extraordinarily abundant natural resources available to them at the time. In the current crisis on Capitol Hill, I think that is a very relevant point to remember. In the good times, it is far too easy to claim credit and laud ourselves for the “American Exceptionalism”, when the truth is most of what had been truly exceptional has been God's grace. There is too much of a feeling in the US that people get what they deserve and that their current penury is somehow related to a deficit in their character. With that in mind, the current Congress should focus just as acutely on the plight of the poor and the downtrodden in our society as they do on the current deficit. The economy and the nation will only move forward on the basis of how we treat the least of us rather than the richest of us.

Taxes are the price that we pay for civilization, and individuals that benefit disproportionately from society have an obligation to contribute back in equal measure to that same society. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Lk 12:48