The bleat­ing seems to be more or less inces­sant now, a steady nat­ter that began some­time in the late 70s and has built con­stanty since then. It started with the Moral Majority (which is nei­ther) and led to the post­ing of the Decalogue in pub­lic places and the insan­ity of “Intelligent Design”.

All over the US waves of big­otry surge. In many states it is now impos­si­ble for a same-​​gender cou­ple to receive even the token ben­e­fits of mar­riage; gays and les­bians are still for­bid­den to serve in the mil­i­tary despite an unde­ni­able need for sol­diers; pre-​​op trans­gen­dered peo­ple are fired from posi­tions they’ve served at suc­cess­fully for years.

Right-​​wing book-​​fondlers push their hatred but refuse to acknowl­edge it as such; a woman may be refused abor­tion and may find it impos­si­ble to get help for her child. “Political ana­lysts” con­stantly beat the drum of xeno­pho­bia — essen­tially a fear of Brown People — and the White House’s inces­sant bel­liger­ence sets the tone for a nation of troglodytes.

The stu­pid foray in Iraq has cost us half a tril­lion dol­lars so far, money that could have been spent on inoc­u­la­tion, farm­ing pro­grams and edu­ca­tion both in the US and abroad — but instead it’s been spent on killing 60,000 civilians.

In Buddhism, there is a realm called the world of the Hungry Ghosts.

These are sad crea­tures, with tiny mouths and short arms, and they are seated at a ban­quet table laden with food.

They’d eat if they could, but they can’t, because they have only very long spoons. The han­dles are attached to their lit­tle arms and they can’t reach their mouths with the bowls. They scoop food, and try to sip it, and they can’t because the han­dles are too long, because their mouths can’t reach the food; they are starv­ing and in sor­row and agony, and they don’t see a sim­ple thing, an easy thing, such an obvi­ous thing.

The spoons’ han­dles are too long to reach their own mouths, but they could reach the mouth of the riven spirit beside them.

If they fed one another with their spoons, every­one would be satisfied.

Still they writhe and shriek in their tor­ment, still they suf­fer alone in their agony, not need­ing to, not hav­ing to; it is sim­ply all they know and all they have ever known.

Our nation would have con­sid­er­ably less to fear from ter­ror­ism if we’d lose some of our arro­gance — con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, not every­one else in the world envies or wants to live in the US. The US may not, after all, be “the great­est nation on earth”.

We’d go a lot far­ther toward spread­ing democ­racy and free­dom if we’d ease the suf­fer­ing of other nations first; peo­ple are more will­ing to lis­ten to polit­i­cal the­ory after their bel­lies are full and their chil­dren are free from dis­ease and poverty.

We’d have more gen­uine friends on the world stage if we’d drop our energy-​​hogging hubris and start giv­ing a damn about the world we’re pol­lut­ing, the world we all have to live in.

You’d think a nation of Christians would act like Christians. Instead we act like self­ish, spoiled chil­dren, insist­ing on hav­ing our way, insist­ing that every­one else is wrong, ignor­ing the suf­fer­ing we’re cre­at­ing in a world which does not belong to us.

What does that say about this nation and the peo­ple whose voices are so shrill?

Precisely how Christian is this nation?

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