The Golden Road to Unlimited Totalitarianism - Part 6
Planet of the Golden Calf
By Diane Harvey <[email protected]
Greed was once an obvious and, on the whole, socially unacceptable disease. There was little difficulty distinguishing between normal human desires for civilized comfort, and the pathological out-of-control desire nature of the relatively few.
In the last few decades however, the infection of greed has managed to stealthily mutate into a virulent and deadly new form.
Greed (http://omega.cc.umb.edu/~salzman/NotesOnGreed/index.html) has developed a protective coating which reflects a sheen of normal respectability, and is no longer even recognizable. A lifestyle based on Getting-and-Having is now enthusiastically embraced as a particularly All-American virtue.
Greediness is not merely psychologically fashionable now: it is well established in the American psyche as the summum bonum of our special rights. The original spiritual promise inherent in the phrase "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" has been dragged down into the uttermost basement of meaning.
The new version of our basic "rights" consists of the dictionary definition of pure greed: "Excessive desire for acquiring or having". We don't believe in any such thing as "excess" now. And the result of this is a nation suffering from a fatal illness, but which does not, on the whole, even comprehend it is sick.
The occasional lip-service given to deploring our raging materialism is a useless noise drowned out by the yowl of advertising. Seen from space, Earth's once lovely face is stamped with the corporate logo of the Ferengi.
As the current version of the Roman Empire, just short of the inevitable disastrous collapse, we export the florid excrescences of our decaying culture to an eagerly awaiting world. At the present rate, consumerism will shortly be a global plague in the human species.
The consequences of this rampant disease on a planetary scale are evident. Too numerous to be supported by rapidly diminishing resources, greedy humanity becomes a kind of flesh-eating bacteria on the surface of the planet. One can only wonder if subconsciously our civilization registers its coming inevitable disintegration, and chooses to dine on as many hummingbird tongues as possible before the end.
Destined sooner or later to meet the results of its actions, the United States of America perhaps tries to escape its logical conclusion through fevered immersion in ever-more idiotic and demeaning distractions.
Such a level of alarm is no exaggeration. A wholesale metamorphosis from homo sapiens into homo consumerus will be fatal. The reasons for this are numerous and readily understood by all those as yet uninfected.
Greed is not a sort of evolutionarily harmless childhood disease, merely appearing on a larger scale. If it spreads to the extent of taking over the entire psyche of a nation, it will kill the host. We see from the historical evidence that a small percentage of greedy people cannot harm a country whose numerous healthy cells, average sane citizens, function as a powerful immunological protection.
But if an entire people succumb to irrational levels of desire for getting-and-having, then the cancer will spread until the body dies
One of the oldest prophecies on earth refers to our moment in time, here and now. It comes from the Vishnu Purana, written no-one-knows how many thousands and thousands of years ago. In it the writer is describing what he forsees at the end of the age known as Kali Yuga: the Age of Iron.
Ancient eastern wisdom describes unimaginably (to us) vast cycles of time, called "ages", which succeeed one another in descending into materialism and loss of spirituality. The cycle begins with a Golden Age, when human beings are bright with spiritual awareness and promise.
It ends, several million years later, in the depths of decay. The following prophecy certainly sounds familiar:
"There will be be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth: kings of churlish spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness. They will inflict death on women and children, they will seize upon the property of their subjects, and be intent upon the wives of others; they will be of unlimited power, their lives will be short, their desires insatiable....
People of various countries intermingling with them will follow their example. Piety will decrease until the whole world will be wholly depraved. Property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation; and women will be objects merely of sensual gratification....
External types will be the only distinction of the several orders of life;...a man if rich will be reputed to be pure; dishonesty will be the universal means of subsistence, weakness the cause of dependence, menace and presumption will be substituted for learning; liberality will be devotion; mutual assent, marrriage; fine clothes, dignity. He who is strongest will reign; the people, unable to bear the heavy burden of taxes, will take refuge among the valleys...
Thus, in the Kali Age will decay constantly proceed, until the human race approaches its annihilation."
At which point, according to these ancient scriptures, a great descent of divine power takes place again, and the seeds of the new cycle, the beginning of the next Golden Age, are sown.
Since all forms of life are cyclic, perhaps this ancient prophecy merely describes a kind of inevitable end to our civilization.
Yet always the choice remains: free will exists, and no human being is obliged (yet) to cooperate in spiritual self-destruction.
Furthermore, even when a civilization flowers and then falls to the ground and decomposes, one may choose to become a seed of the future culture. This is strictly a matter of individual desire.
We can go with the flow, down the drain, or fight the uphill battle to claim our souls and the life of the heart and mind. There is a great war unfolding within us and all around us, and we are all participants, whether we have the courage to admit it or not.
This simple choice is the hardest we will ever make: to recognize the virus of selfish materialistic consumption for what it is, and to reject it.
Despite the pressing dark force of increasing greediness, we still have the power to insist on expressing our individual gifts and talents. The price of this is high: it often means a life of struggle. But at this point only darkness and the status quo offer the certainty of cheap mindless comfort.
Light, love and creative intelligence only offer themselves, and the eternal promise of being unfolded into an ever-greater livingness. Every moment of our lives we are desiring, we are choosing to attach ourselves to the downgoing darkness of materialism or to the upwelling light of the soul.
And when death comes, the sum of all our desires and subsequent choices will determine our next destination. There is no religion or spiritual path which does not teach this, for reasons which ought to be quite clear to us all. It is the truth.
[This message has been edited by renots (edited 08-06-2000).]