"MY NAME IS LEGION ---."
Most religions have a period of repentance or fasting. Christians are currently in the Lenten Season. As we observe the significance of these days we cannot help but juxtapose the scene of a fasting, prayerful Saviour kneeling in a sweltering desert while lines of well-dressed millionaire businessmen, politicians, and - yes - some men of the cloth, stand shamelessly next to a bevy of high-priced lawyers in front of congressional panels or a court room. Their combined fortunes amount to more than the revenue of some countries. We stand transfixed at this spectacle and wonder how this could have happened. How could it be that these well-dressed, silver tongued gentlemen of high prestige would stoop to some of the depths that they did in bilking so many out of millions of dollars? More interesting is the fact that most of them were already affluent and did not seem to need to do this.
I believe that many of the transgressors are not even aware of the wrong that they have done. They are so removed from the general public and surrounded by similar thinking associates that they have lost all sense of ethics and satiety. We all lack moral authority in this country today. Many people are not aware of the fact that men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Ghandhi were not rich but their words and their lives were so powerful that they live on as an example for all of us to live by.
With all of our education and information technology modern man has become more and more alienated from himself and his fellow man. Each day we have a different idol and each day a different mood. Our authority is public opinion and we shift as it changes from day to day. There is no fixed ideal, no great passion, and a cold indifference to the rest of the world. We consume enormous amounts of pills to cover psychic and physical pain, rather than exploring its source for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
The modern soul that cannot live with itself cannot live with its fellow man. When we are engaged in internal conflict there will almost certainly be conflict with others. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the desire for millions of dollars. Most of these millionaires go to great lengths to use their financial assets to purchase some form of isolation from others. They pay enormous amounts of money to separate themselves and their children from the rest of society. I was watching reality a show that proclaims to give some insight into the daily lives of rich New York City housewives the other day. I was amused to see that one of the families paid a "professional break dancer" to come to the house and teach their 12 year old son how to break dance. The kid's mother said that she wanted him to be "well-rounded". Gated communities with private security was one of the defining features of the 1980s housing boom. The poet Shelley once said that, "The accumulation of the materials of external life exceed the quantity of power of assimilating them to the internal laws of our nature."
Alienation from self and others has its roots in separation from our own spirituality. Spirituality seems lost to many of us. It sometimes appears as an affront to the modern alienated man. Unable to make sense of his own of life, he often projects his own inner turmoil onto those who have found a fully integrated sense of existence. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus Christ comes across a young man afflicted by the same kind of alienation and confusion. Christ asks him, "What is your name?" The young man answered, "My name is Legion, for we are many." Mark goes on to describe the young man as "crying and cutting himself" while wandering alone in the mountains. Like most fragmented personalities of our time he lost all need for human intercourse and wandered aimlessly through the hard and cold desolation of the material world. His confusing response is similar to the kind of identity confusion that characterizes so many of today's youth.
Surely, the present economic calamity is not the first of its kind and American history abounds with individuals like the ones we read about in the news everyday.. However, we can avoid being caught in their web of deceit if we learn to reintegrate ourselves with our own humanity. Life is very simple. We are not the car we drive or the "class" that we identify with. The people that we trust our affairs to are not trustworthy just because they carry the status symbols we are told to respect. Our spirituality is not contingent upon which faith we practice or what house of worship we go to. It is most important that we understand that the ministers of these faiths are just that, representatives of God, and are just as human as you and I.
Please e-mail me and let me know your thoughts on this matter.
Oh yeah, don't forget your autographed copy of "The Ackee Chronicles".
Tony VanSluytman - the Author
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Tony VanSluytman info
Tony VanSluytman - the Author
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