in his work Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time
(1952), captured this sentiment. Nowadays, amidst a perpetual
cycle of scandals, both Democrats and Republicans face criticism
for their inability to mend a beleaguered country. Yet,
the core problems that afflict America cannot be fixed through
politics alone. No matter how well-intentioned or informed,
no president, congress, or flurry of transformative legislation
can stem the corrosive erosion of heart, body, mind, and
spirit that poses the gravest threat to these United States.
While some progress
may arise from specific statutes and institutions, they
merely scratch the surface of what truly matters. Our system
of governance, driven by taxation, commerce, and consumption,
has fostered a bitter amalgamation of plutocracy and mob
rule. It is no wonder that our hoped-for national salvation
lies far beyond the confines of government, law, and economics.
as Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard warned, is
untruth. In our present American “crowd” —
what Freud might call a “horde,” Nietzsche a
“herd,” and Jung a “mass” —
the proclaimed differences between Democrats and Republicans,
Liberals and Conservatives, are essentially reflective.
Before America can truly mend, a profound transformation
of its citizenry, of the microcosm, must take place.
are stark, but not insurmountable. We inhabit a society
that is cravenly numb and openly false, where even our deepest
melancholy feels contrived. There is no call here for whispered
prescriptions. In a society teetering on the fringes of
history — quintessentially America — emptiness
is not a complicated or secretive concept. It permeates
our individual lives and resonates within the collective,
an unbroken cycle.
wallows in a twilight of conformism, displaying infinite
patience for shallow thinking and degrading amusements.
With misplaced resentments, we hide from the fundamental
affirmations of personal intellect. We have unwittingly
cultivated a collective posture of anti-reason, an unphilosophical
spirit that disregards matters of true importance and seeks
to remain ignorant of anything significant. In time, this
spirit becomes profoundly destructive.
Who reads serious
books these days? Let us be honest. Very few of our national
leaders can answer “yes” to this question, and
their intellectual incapacity often becomes a political
asset. Americans, by and large, despise intellectual pursuits,
preferring their elected representatives to share in this
disdain. Moreover, even the wealthiest among us may find
themselves deprived, resigned to a future of banalities
and unsatisfying work. Erudition becomes burdensome, and
cultivated animosity becomes an acceptable substitute.
some truths remain evident. The “life of the mind”
in our distracted country has become a mere fiction, a thin
text that no longer embodies Ralph Waldo Emerson’s
vision of “plain living and high thinking.”
Even our esteemed universities have transformed into expensive
training grounds, devoid of any tangible pursuit of higher
for diversity, our national landscape remains homogeneous
in its disregard for enduring human values. Equanimity and
balance are overshadowed by the pursuit of narrow imitations,
empty pleasures, and chemical diversions. Tens of millions
succumb to alcohol and drugs, suffocating any lingering
wisdom and drowning whole oceans of sacred poetry.
Amidst it all,
there are subtle nuances to our predicament. We can be lonely
in the world and lonely for the world. Somehow, these sentiments
are mutually reinforcing.