I had this realization today.
That realization is this: the conservatives are (almost) right.
I bet I got the attention of the people I know.
The thing they got right, and we on the left got wrong, is that there is a battle of world views going on. There is an enemy. The way that people view the world is of critical importance.
The reason that they got this almost right is that they have the enemy all wrong.
The enemy is not the homosexual agenda. Or liberalism. Or activist judges. Or communism. Or socialism. Or anarchism. Or Islam.
I think that list implies one of my issues with the right wing. They all seem to agree that there is a single world view tearing us apart. But the name of that view seems to shift with the wind.
The truth that they have right is that there is a single enemy. His name is Satan. I don’t, for the record, believe that Satan is behind any of the world views listed above. I chose them because they are favorite scare crows of the overly conservative crowd.
A deeper and wider and more destructive world view, one that has lots of manifestations and repurcussions, one that Satan is always behind, is a world view that many of the right are so enmeshed in that they sometimes don’t even get that’s it’s evil.
The world view is consumerism.
Such a telling title, consumerism: we devour what we use. It’s built into our nature.
I think, on the whole, capitalism might be a smart way to go. I’m not sure, however, how we disentangle capitalism from consumerism.
But I know that we must.
Consumerism is the enemy of community. Community is a web of mutual and sustainable relationships. Consumerism is a list of one-sided interactions. Consumerism has gotten itself clever and grasped on to the deeper truths that community reaches in us. It has dressed itself up. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve bought it all too often.
There is nothing wrong with meeting a friend for a $5 cup of Starbucks. But there is something terrible about the fact that we’ve been convinced that this is the only viable place we can experience community. There is nothing wrong with an advertising executive trying to sell me on the idea that if I buy product X I’ll be part of an exclusive group. But there is something terrible about the fact that I accept his claims so easily.
The church is this amazing counter-cultural force. I think it is the hope of the world. A part of this hope is to be the source of an alternative to consumerism. Because it’s not enough to rail against the dark. We must turn on a light. And I just don’t see any other lights around.