Years ago, I started blogging with a site called Sobaka.com. There were some incredibly interesting voices there, and all the writers did their homework. They found connections between some of the most horrific evils perpetrated in the world and some of the most globally esteemed world leaders and organizations. When I started to write there, I worked at making the connections… and I found myself in the wilderness.
The USA’s invasion of Iraq was just underway, and I was one of the few that was saying it was a terrible idea and that it would not end well. I said what I had to say and endured being ignored. Other voices joined with me as the years wore on, but that didn’t draw me into the mainstream. They joined me in the wilderness. They, too, got ignored.
The Panic of 2008 hit and I was there to find connections. I was used to being in the wilderness, so I was used to being ignored. At that time, though, I noticed there were many more people with me that were being actively ignored by those that walked in the halls of power. They were surprised to find that, as a majority of voices in a land that claimed to be based upon democratic principles, their voices counted for very little.
I read, with a complete lack of surprise, a recent scholarly article that concluded, based upon the high correlation between the passage of unpopular legislation and support for that legislation among elites, that the USA was no longer a republic of the people, but an oligarchy. There is the occasional concession to the notions of democracy here and there, but only to sustain a hopeful illusion that popular voices in the USA still have a meaning.
The good news is that life still goes on under an unrepresentative oligarchy. Yes, your government ignores you and you grate under a system that treats those outside of power with unrelenting cruelty and allows those in power to commit all manner of heinous crimes and then pay a few pennies’ worth of fines, if not walk free altogether. Yes, it’s a dread to realize that your government fears you to the point of keeping the general population under surveillance, and that it will forcefully move to smash any movement that threatens to upend the existing power structure, even if the movement is simply an appeal to human dignity.
Life goes on, indeed. Such was the world of Jesus. Such was the world of Gandhi. Such was the world of Martin Luther King, Jr. Such is the world of the USA. I choose those names because they embodied lives of truth, honesty, and love – and a refusal to compromise on their values. Yes, they were all killed for those uncompromising lives of truth, honesty, and love, but at the end of the day, their lives had those values, and therefore, their lives had value.
To me, the message of Jesus is most important. He that truly had all the power, but the proper use of his power was not to dominate, but to find the people in the wilderness and to bring them in, to bring them together. He used his power to teach and to give true hope to those that were completely outside the worldly power structure. His message was simple: love will be your reason to live.
So, as I live my life in a nation that promises me freedom, but would kill me without a trial in an instant if I was so much as just near someone that it considered to be a threat, I do not plot how to take power. I do not plan how to join the power structure. I do not desire any of that. I look to Jesus’ example of life in the wilderness. The most important message to deliver is his message of love, for that is what sustains us. Not freedom, not justice – which can be stolen by those in power – but love.