On Gridlock, the Budget, and Fallen Humanity

(thanks to Mockingbird)

How often do you see language like this in a financial editorial in NYT:

from "Sin and Taxes" (editorial in the New York Times)
David Brooks

For centuries, American politicians did not run up huge peacetime debts. It wasn’t because they were unpartisan or smarter or more virtuous. It was because they were constrained by a mentality inherited from the founders. According to this mentality, a big successful nation exists in a state of equilibrium between its many factions. This equilibrium is fragile because we are flawed and fallen creatures and can’t quite trust ourselves. So all of us, but especially members of the leadership class, should practice self-restraint. Moral anxiety restrained hubris (don’t think your side possesses the whole truth) and self-indulgence (debt corrupts character).

This ethos has dissolved, on left and right. The new mentality sees the country not as an equilibrium, but as a battlefield in which the people, who are pure and virtuous, do battle against the interests or the elites, who stand in the way of the people’s happiness.

That is so true.  I weary of the constant battle rhetoric.  I weary of those strident voices so certain that they have the fullness of the truth.  The only truth I've discovered (outside of the truths of faith which are revealed) is that people tend to be a mass of flaws that they cannot even see sometimes ("Love is blind and lovers cannot see the pretty follies they themselves commit").

Sometimes, I read over what emerges from the pixelated ether and  find an arrogant, pushy, self-centered, obnoxious, know-it-all--not at all that I do not recognize as myself.

The end of all this is that one must stand ready to hear the evidence and change in accordance with the truth--which is neither so simple nor so straightforward as some would have it. I must stand prepared to listen, to try to really understand what is being said, and to change to accommodate when faced by the truth.  I stand with what Mr. Dawkins says in the clip posted yesterday--I am interested in the truth and want to live as closely as I can in correspondence with it.  Therefore, it is difficult for me to ride rough-shod over others with claims to my own monopoly on truth--I don't know it all, I don't know even very much of it, and my grasp of it is tentative and slippery.


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