In the aftermath of (yet another) movie theater shooting, my friend Chris Douglas posted a thoughtful warning–one we should take seriously but won’t, if history is any guide.
“Accounts from acquaintances, law enforcement officials and court records portrayed Mr. Houser, 59, of Phenix City, Ala., who also took his own life, as a man with a diffuse collection of troubles and grievances — personal, political and social — who had a particular anger for women, liberals, the government and a changing world.”
By the way, our political currents have a lot of people like this swimming in them…Angry and just shy of mentally unstable, if not already there, their emotions and incomplete thoughts are easily whipped up by calculating politicians. It’s what McCain was referring to when he said Trump was whipping up the crazies. It isn’t a minor phenomenon; it’s a major one. It destroyed Germany and produced war in Europe, and genocides all over.
The fellow could be dismissed as an isolated nut job… or viewed as a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface… ISIS is an eruption of such people, given free reign to do their worst when all else has failed in the Middle East… when societies fail to deliver the goods, other forces are there to take over. Let’s not fool ourselves that we are different from the rest of humanity.
One of the “goods” that governments are supposed to deliver is a fair economic system that provides citizens with a genuine chance to improve their conditions– a truly level playing field.
As Chris points out, one of the dangers of extreme inequality is social unrest. Most people can live with an economy that rewards some jobs and some workers more than others, but when the prevailing order is seen as rigged and grossly unfair, when the magnitude of reward is clearly disproportionate to the value of the social contribution, tolerance for disparities disappears. Grievances grow. People already on the edge go over it.
There’s a parable I’ve always loved, attributed to various Native American tribes:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. The other is good.
When the grandson then asked his grandfather:”which wolf wins?..,” the grandfather replied, “the one that you feed.”
We need to think long and hard about what our policies are feeding.