In Your Private Fortress

Republicans, particularly their Tea Party branch, seem to believe that each man is an island, no matter what John Donne’s opinion might have been. They want to build a nation that consists of isolated family units that are entirely self-sufficient. The government is to be reduced to the bare minimum necessary to keep the lights on. Except for our war-making machine, on which there are to be no limits.

Such a nation would be characterized by a fortress attitude, the armed family living in a fortified building designed to resist invasion. Anarchy. Dystopia. Desolation. Individuals would be totally responsible for themselves. Compassion toward others would be considered weakness.

People who fell on bad times—whether injured by crime, victims of economic downturn, who fell ill, or were wiped out by forces of nature—would be shunned, left to die alone. No one would help them, just as the audience at a recent right wing debate shouted, the jeering mob at a gladiator event. Let them die.

What a horrible, amoral picture they paint, devoid of compassion and all the things that Christianity and every other religious or non-religious moral system teaches about caring for one another.

My grandfather ran a general store in a small Midwest town in farming territory a century ago. When illness struck in those days, family disaster soon followed. Productive work was impossible. The family had all it could do to literally stay alive, and they often quickly ran out of food. But my grandfather often struck under cover of dark, leaving them lifesaving bags of food, which he spirited to them on a child’s wagon. He never expected to be paid for this food. His generosity was not considered unusual. Such activity today would be considered weakness by Tea Party folk.

There is a pretty stark choice, between this far right vision and what we think of as the American way, perhaps personified by my grandfather. To me it sounds like a choice between life and death. For a person like me, with a lot of water under the bridge, the thought of living in the horrible dystopia the far right envisions is not automatically preferable to not living at all.

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