LAS CRUCES — Tenny Hale said the spiritual diseases of our era are arrogance and greed.
The major maladies of her Great Depression-World War II era, Hale said, were innocence and ignorance. And many of what Tom Brokaw would later term “the greatest generation” helped us find the “cures:” experience and education.
It’s not over yet, but I think I can already confirm that 2011 has been one of the toughest years many of us have ever seen.
But this fall, things are looking up. Whatever else happens, it’s somehow uplifting to see crowds flocking to the streets in cities all over the county to protest arrogance and greed.
It’s a breath of fresh air. Especially after the endless, selfish ME generation reign of self-absorbed terror. After surviving the materialistic 1980s and ‘90s. After the “official” rulings that “corporations are people.” (If so, what can we do to encourage them to be wise, compassionate and caring “people”?)
Are cures on the horizon for the diseases of arrogance and greed?
The diagnosis always has to come first. And that seems to be what a lot of people are concerned about these days, in social network-inspired protests and gatherings all over the world.
I followed our local protests at NMSU with interest and conferred with a good friend, former Las Crucen Cecilia Lewis, about what’s happening near her current home in New York City.
We had some philosophical discussions about what comes next, after the Arab Spring and the Tea Party and the current new round of protests.
The words of ancient sages came to mind: “Work on what has been spoiled” and “After enlightenment comes the laundry.”
“Maybe it’s time to stop, take some time and get together and decide what we want next for the world,” Cecilia said.
One of the few things that is clear in this murky era is that a lot of what we’ve been doing isn’t working, or needs repair and a fresh approach.
Major changes are happening in virtually every area of our lives, from the way we do our jobs and make our living to the ways we enjoy and purchase (or steal, alas, for the tech-savvy unscrupulous) music, films and books.
And those of us who have been alive long enough to see monumental change and keep our wits about us, realize that the capacity to transform our world is also increasing by leaps and bounds.
Change being life’s only constant, there is no choice about whether we’ll make changes, but we still have something to say about what, where, how and when.
Wouldn’t it be wise to have more local, national and international conversations about the future of everything from education to economic systems?
We might start with some paradigms that focus on better rather than bigger, on smart repair, regrowth and remodeling strategies, on creative conservation instead of wasteful, destructive, endless expansion.
We all seem to agree that in mature human beings, unbridled growth for the sake of growth is definitely not a good thing (consider cancer and morbid obesity, for instance). Might we not follow the same principle in mature human economies and societies?
Protest is great, and it’s the crucial diagnostic phase of what ails us. While we’re protesting, I hope we’ll devote some sit-in time to thoughtful pondering of where we’ve come from, where we are and where we’re headed.
We could even come up with some remedies for arrogance and greed and the messes they’ve gotten us into. With some steady doses of thoughtful humility, generosity and compassion and as much cooperative collective wisdom as we can muster, we just might be able to come up with cures that will leave upcoming generations with a better world.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.