Even while civilization was incubating between the Tigris and Euphrates, there were monsters. They have always lived in myths, legends and people’s imaginations. When people believed the earth was flat and much of it was uncharted, mapmakers warned explorers by printing “Beyond This Point There Be Dragons” on unknown areas.
Most of us now know that we won’t fall off the edge of the earth, but our mental charts have the same “beyond this point” warnings. This produces dragons such as fear of failure or the loss of security. These are personal monsters. Then there are the monsters we have in common, our national monsters.
Politicians conjure up monsters in order to further their own agendas by striking fear into the hearts of voters. (Try to contain your shock.) Many of these monsters are just paper tigers: Gay marriage will destroy civilization as we know it. Birth control will cause people to “do things.” That one probably didn’t scare anybody, but it must have evoked some interesting fantasies. This does not mean that there are not real monsters. There are some that are very real and very scary, and they beget other monsters.
A real monster that threatens our country right now is Greed. If you ever doubted the Bible’s warning that the love of money is the root of all evil, consider where the “greed is good” joy ride has taken us. Greed is responsible for half of the American people living in poverty; for jobs and pensions disappearing; for millions of people being homeless; for millions being without health care. Greed is responsible for social programs being slashed when they are needed most. And the list goes on.
While vast numbers of Americans are struggling to survive, unbelievable amounts of money are being poured into the presidential campaign to insure that the super-rich will never have to pay for the infrastructure they use in order to make money. And heaven forbid that those “job creators” should be hampered by pesky government regulations.
Campaign money is used primarily to influence voters who rely on TV ads to tell them how to vote. Since political ads are exaggerations at best and outright lies at worst, this means that people who can’t tell the paper tigers from the dragons could determine the outcome of the election. If voters were not too lazy to educate themselves on issues, money couldn’t buy their votes.
If Harry Truman were alive today he would probably say the same thing he said in 1948: “You know the issues in this campaign are not hard to define. The issue is the people against the special interests, gluttons of privilege and bloodsuckers with offices in Wall Street. You must, if you want this country to go forward, you must always be sure that you have people in control of the government whose interest is yours and not the special interests who want special privilege in everything that takes place.”
The flat-earth mapmakers’ warnings about imaginary monsters probably delayed discoveries by hundreds of years. We don’t have that much time. If we are going to end this orgy of monstrous greed, we have to step out of our comfort zone and stop a very real threat. Beyond This Point There Be Serfdom.