Who needs a coherent energy policy when Jesus is coming back soon? Who needs to get along with other countries when God has chosen America to be the "city set on a hill?"
We're so very special we don't need to be intelligent, speak foreign languages, educate our children, lose weight, or even build a train service from Boston to Washington, DC that works.
With over half the country in the grip of one variety or another of religious fundamentalism the United States is unfit to survive the 21st-century. Too many of us believe that our way of life is God-ordained and that this will magically solve our problems. (Something I lay out in detail in my bookCRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back).
With our sense of divine entitlement has come a belief that planning ahead, disciplining ourselves, educating ourselves or even admitting the existence of reality -- for instance, that resources are limited -- is downright un-American. Aren't we the greatest country on earth? Doesn't freedom equal consumer choice? Let's just drill for more oil! Believing in off-shore oil and/or the return of Christ makes us feel better!
When playing by the rules of divine entitlement truth becomes un-American. Facts are un-American. For instance with; "God blessing and guiding our nation." How can any right-thinking American believe that we have exceeded the limits of our military capability and now stand virtually powerless to do anything in the world other than concentrate on how to get out of a misbegotten war? Believing that, "God is blessing and guiding our nation" how do we admit that a culture built around the principle of enshrined consumer fun can no longer pay for the gasoline to shuttle us from our mega churches to Disneyland or from Disneyland to the local casino?
Any solution to our decline is going to have to start with admitting who and what we are and that:
# more Americans believe in the imminent return of Christ than in global warming,
# half our population still believes that Iraq had something to do with 9/11,
# American children score in the bottom half of educational tests out of all Western and Asian countries--we are raising a generation of backward barbarians
# the Republican Party and President George W. Bush have driven up the national debt so high that we have just committed suicide
# our elites -- both Republicans and Democrats -- no longer volunteer for military service, leaving it to mercenary forces (the so-called all-volunteer military) of mostly lower and middle-class Americans to shoulder the burden of one misadventure after another, making our "democracy" akin to the declining Persian Empire, wherein hired (and/or slave) armies fought for the ruling plutocracy.
America's new position in the world is the story of the incredible shrinking nation. While we concentrate on the "pressing issues" of getting our hearts right with Jesus, abortion pro and con, gay marriage pro and con, prayer in schools pro and con and identity politics of all kinds, we consume 26% of the world's energy resources, mostly just fooling around.
In case no one noticed we are in steep decline and acting as if there is no tomorrow.
At this penultimate stage of decline if we would like to change our situation here's a short list of some things that need doing and/or learning:
# De-link our country from our soft Jesus-saves theocracy of insane God-will-save-us millennial expectation,
# Reinstate the draft. If our foreign adventures don't cost the whole country in lost sleep they shouldn't cost anybody (no more Bush; "You'll go shopping while a few go to war"),
# Reject "God-given" entitlement and admit that we are just one more country that will (like all civilizations) eventually disappear without a trace, and that that will be our fate sooner than later, if we don't change and change fast,
# Overthrow the Republican/oil company's/car company's/Wall Street vision of consumerist America and replace it with striving to become the world's leader in innovative green technology, moral fortitude and education,
# Grow up: the answer is not more state lotteries, more religion of the feel-good variety, buying more stuff or putting more of our children on antidepressants, but hard work, science, school, family cohesiveness, high expectations, and a level of seriousness we haven't had since World War Two,
# Team up with China and India to solve the technology gap between old and new energy sources -- we all go green together or all die together,
# Impose a gas tax that will keep gas prices at $5 a gallon so new green energy will happen -- now,
# Eat humble pie and ask the Europeans, Chinese and Japanese to rebuild our public transport sector, now that we're too backward and too uneducated to do it,
#Get out of Iraq, save our military and save money for rebuilding our country.
Most important of all:
Elect Senator Obama for president!
Frank Schaeffer is coauthor of HOW FREE PEOPLE MOVE MOUNTAINS-A Male Christian Conservative and a Female Jewish Liberal On A. Quest For Common Purpose and Meaning. He is also author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back
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