The Soul of a Nation

The real battle for the soul of the nation occurred in areas unrelated to political reform. It happened in the workplace, in the union hall, in the office, at the cinema, in our homes and in our bedrooms. The victories at the voting booth, within the courst, in the state houses and in congress were simply milestones.

They are more like mile markers along the journey of cultural evolution.

And this is something folks on the right understand far better than we do, the real battle, the real struggle is always cultural. One who controls the symbols, the myths and the language controls the economic, social and political realities of a country, tribe or organization.

Only a few centuries ago a healer was a woman, and a garden was where we raised our food. Middle age was for most folks the mid-twenties and woman had their first child by age 15. A tan meant you worked outside and fat people were considered wealthy. But now if you check in with these cultural symbols we find different messages and meanings. The culture has changed.

But often we humans lag behind cultural changes; and surprise-surprise, we often resist change. The resistance is both natural and ultimately helpful in the long run. Some changes we make during periods of stress need to be resisted till we turn the corner and attain some perspective. But some changes are necessary and require us as a society to take a leap of faith.

Even those of us who think of ourselves as welcoming of change, resist the very changes we bring about. And this is important to remember. Since as mammals we fall back out of habit or instinct to what we consider as the tried and the true. We have to be willing to do more than support a change, we must embrace it at all levels. Otherwise, as we are beginning to discover, any change for the better can be reversed, almost overnight, if we are not paying attention.

And that is what we are facing in this country, right here and right now. We are all watching in a kind of stunned silence, as a century of progress seems to be withering away. We are like the next victim in those horror movies. You know the ones where you feel like yelling at the screen, “Wake up, he is standing right behind you!”

But we cannot wake up, no matter how hard we pinch ourselves, no matter how many letters, blogs , emails or signatures we collect. We seem to be walking in slow motion directly into the path of the disaster, right into the clutches of the menacing beast.

Why is that? And more importantly, what can we do about it?

How Culture Changes

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