Last Christmas in my choral society at Grace Church we sang O Magnum Mysterium. I know the latin text is about the incarnation of god in man.
But, in my mind last Fall the Magnum Mysterium as what seemed like the whole social order I knew my whole life and that my grandparents worked so hard for and spoke of was breaking down, and maybe lost to us forever. The data and metrics of rising poverty, infant mortality, bigotry and crime and forecast destitution are all there below the surface. It seemed like the apparent unwinding of a great mystery, a great social mystery never before achieved in human history from which my family and I were privileged to benefit our whole lives. Of course, I read too much history and carry it around with me.
Most of the Western Hemisphere or New World countries are terrible places of economic poverty, injustice and perhaps other kinds of poverty too. That is the experience in the entire new world outside of the 'Old Europe' our leaders are so quick to deride, except for Canada.
They certainly are not places where human potential can easily express or achieve, like happened here so easily in the last two centuries. Or, where higher forms of consciousness about justice and human rights and dignity of the individual spoken of by Socrates broke free from the tyranny of normal caste society, or rule by the strongest and most brutal, as in Callicles who had him executed for suggesting something that could upset the social order over which Callicles and his thugs ruled.
The great mystery was a momentary balance between centuries of evolving moral and ethical culture struggling in despotic kingdoms across the sea, and man's natural tendencies for tyranny and grabbing even here in the new world. Against that same struggle here at the founding of our republic, individual change agents fought to craft unique founding documents that started us on our way. They were a few enlightenment intellects with superb classical philosophy and theologically inspired educations of their day that few of us can muster, or at least while having a day job. Over two centuries many worked hard to spawn democratic institutions that did for a time create a society on the planet that had never expressed before. Although the ideas have been with us now for 2400 yrs, Callicles and his thugs worked hard to block them every step of the way, and they had once again advanced their game even here, even today. Warren Buffett said it well himself, in his comments about someone waging class warfare and winning in this round!
We did manage to push through at some points in our history and demonstrate an inspiration to the whole world for justice and democracy and also the benefits they bring for creative economic and cultural prosperity, even for a brief time in history.
During all those rehearsals and daily news reports of financial destruction, I couldn't help but see the delicate balance we'd achieved being brutally discarded by Callicles and his modern era licenses from Chicago Schools, or Ayn Rand. Ideological licenses so rapidly and rabidly pushed by clandestine powers that be for decades to advance their own material grip, and break down the counterbalancing democratic institutions that had served us all well.
I can only say, I am glad to have been here albeit briefly for this great moment in history. I am glad my grandparents don't see what is happening now, and more importantly don't have to live through anything like it again. My parents however,like everyone else in their generation may feel unprepared for hardships we haven't yet seen.
I'm beginning to see signals though that the knowledge we accumulated this time is more explicit than in failures of states and empires in times past. Because of our educations (a democratic institution starting as a one-roomed school, despised by Callicles) and skills together with a new form of consciousness we've attained in our generation, this great mystery won't have to go underground again for 2000 years until resurrected at the end of some unforeseen Dark Ages!
Just like the image of 100,000 proteins in a cell you spoke about with Dr. Nuland today, we are noisily working in chaos to ensure survival of the species, and something even better than mere survival!
I increasingly think it is up to us to choose to already be through our dark ages, the run-up to this mess perhaps, and emerge rapidly this time. It is up to us. The Magnum isn't such a Mysterium anymore! Why am I surprised?
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