In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when
he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him
and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down
the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So
too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other
side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he
saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds,
pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an
inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and
gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I
will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell
into the hands of robbers?"
 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
In contrast to the seriousness of Christ�s message, consider
a related irony that is comically absurd. Commonly referred to as the �U.S.�
our nation consists of grossly deformed social, political, economic, and
cultural systems that indoctrinate us in the quasi-religion of �it�s all about
me� while conditioning us to reflexively reject nearly all things related to
the collective �US.�
Self-satisfied and narcissistic little careerists that many
of us are, we remain oblivious to the immense suffering we are inflicting on
the world as we gleefully pursue the American Dream, replete with the requisite
Hummer, McMansion, trophy spouse, 2.5 �perfect� children, and all the trappings
to which our American Exceptionalism entitles us at the expense of billions of
other humans, hundreds of billions of non-human animals, and Mother Earth
Sure, many of us hear Jesus�s parable and think of ourselves
as the Good Samaritans. After all, our humanitarian imperialism has made the
world safe for free-marketdom and corporatocracy for years. And those
�ignorant savages� whom we have �rescued� by bringing them the �stability� of
ruthless dictatorships and showing them how to put their resources we exploit
to good use damn well better be thankful we bestowed our �compassion� upon
them. So in a very perverse sense, we are Samaritans when it comes to our
foreign policy because we often involve ourselves in the affairs of others, but
no argument based on a shred of intellectual honesty would support us being
Generally speaking, we have much more in common with the
Levite than the Good Samaritan. From the moment the doctor retrieved us from
the birth canal and severed the umbilical cord that nurtured us for nine
months, our sponge-like minds began absorbing the idiocies of the distinctly
�American� myth of rugged, hyper-individualism. We devote such exhaustive
levels of emotional and mental energy to aping the ridiculous archetypes
personified by the likes of �go it alone hard asses� such as John Wayne,
Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis that our capacity to experience empathy,
compassion, and deep connections with human and non-human animals is severely
How beguiled are we with a cultural dogma that elevates the
individual to the level of a deity and portrays collectivism as a plague of
Let�s examine some of the contradictions and distortions to
which many of us are blind.
Even the �lone wolf� legends of the silver screen can�t
escape their humanity. They were conceived by two human beings, developed in
their mother�s womb for nine months, brought into this world by doctors or
mid-wives, raised and nurtured, educated, and remain(ed) highly interdependent
with the rest of the human race.
Few people, other than Ted Kaczynski, can claim anything
close to true independence, and even his wasn�t life-long or absolute. Yet many
of us conduct our lives with a thinly veiled �me first and to hell with the
rest of the world� attitude, as if we are the only ones on the face of the
planet who really matter and as if we don�t need a soul to help us as we
bull-doze through life to attain our goals.
As a nation, we have seriously defaulted on the social
contract to which we are each bound as long as we participate in society. Our
moneyed elite, petit bourgeoisie, and wild-eyed libertarians insist that
society provide them with Rock of Gibraltar assurance of their negative rights
to attain profit and protect their infinitely precious property -- and they
want heads rolling if someone violates these �sacrosanct� privileges. Meanwhile
they struggle (often successfully) with nearly every ounce of their being to
minimize, diminish, or obliterate the use of public, communal resources to
uphold and fulfill positive rights, such as access to health care, education,
food, and housing.
In the propagandistic jargon of the ruling class and
libertarians, negative rights are �freedom� and positive rights are �welfare.�
Associating their coveted �rights� to profit and private property with the word
freedom, a universally beloved ideal, and positive rights with the word
welfare, a pejorative term, is a clever way of keeping the masses working
against their own interests.
For instance, what decent human being would argue that we
don�t have a moral obligation to tend to our sick and dying? Even in the amoral
chaos of war, soldiers do their utmost to care for their wounded comrades. Yet
as is common knowledge, Michael Moore recently made a documentary which clearly
demonstrates how depraved and grossly inadequate our profit-driven health care
system is. And there is still incredible resistance to universal health care.
In the �me first society,� we have no problem telling Christ to go to Hell with
all that compassion nonsense.
Let�s follow the twisted logic here. John Calvin told us
that the quickest way to ascend to heaven is to get rich. Universal health care
is a form of socialism. And if we begin to surrender our beloved capitalism,
�evil Commies� will eliminate our freedom to think what television tells us to
think, our �right� to buy more stuff, and our one in a billion chance to be
like �The Donald.�
So, without yielding to the abject malevolence of
collectivism, how do we deal with the problem of 46 million uninsured, the tens
of millions more who are under-insured, the indigent whom the hospitals dump on
Skid Row without treatment, and the millions of seniors who choose between
having enough to eat and filling their prescriptions?
Quite simple, really. We PRETEND to be the Good Samaritan
while continuing along our private little �roads to success� like the Levites
we are. We pass laws requiring that people carry health insurance (again we can
thank John Calvin -- this time for imbuing us with the tortured notion that
punishment is a form of love for one�s fellow man since it cleanses our sinful
nature). We produce scandalously deceptive commercials in which Montel Williams
shills for a Big Pharma front called the PPA and leaves viewers with the
impression that the major drug companies are going from community to community
dispensing free prescription medication (when in reality the PPA merely
provides information on public and private assistance available to the
uninsured). We push for medical savings accounts. We shift the costs to those
with insurance by raising premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. We shout down
those who decry the obscene state of health care in the wealthiest nation in
the world by telling them to quit whining about �entitlements� and to move to
France if they hate America so much.
In the 18th century, Rousseau recognized that the ruling
class was enforcing a grossly one-sided social contract which ensured that they
maintained their wealth and power. Little has changed, even in the �land of the
free.� How peculiar that we profess to be a nation of Christians yet
tenaciously cling to a system that ensures extremely polarized socioeconomic
strata, causes suffering for billions of sentient creatures and violates nearly
every principle for which Christ was martyred.
Perhaps the most telling sign of our shattered moral compass
is that many of the millions of US Americans who are finally recognizing that
the United States is a brutish monster have stampeded to support a libertarian
reactionary from Texas. While Ron Paul is principled and courageous in his
stances against the establishment�s murderous foreign policy, he remains wedded
to the libertarian ideals which rest on the deluded infantilism of
Libertarianism is simply a rather transparent guise for the
myopic selfishness and naked greed that accompany our obsession with �me first
and only.� To justify maintaining their negative rights under the social
contract while minimizing or eliminating positive rights (which actually place
a burden of responsibility upon all of us -- and this very jejune bunch is
apparently incapable of accepting such a load), they attack laws and regulations
that �threaten� the �free� market and the use of public monies to provide for
the well-being of society as a whole.
Some of the more rabid libertarian �thinkers� such as F.A.
Hayek went so far as to remind the poor and working class to thank their
oppressors and exploiters for their very existence.
which capitalism can be said to have �created� was thus not a proportion of the
population which would have existed without it and which it had degraded to a
lower level; it was an additional population which was enabled to grow up by
the new opportunities for employment which capitalism provided.�
Or in other
words, forget about a living wage, safe working conditions, or reasonable
hours, you miserable ingrates. Without us, you would not have been born. Bend
over and say thank you!
with the glaringly obvious moral and practical deficiencies of libertarianism,
capitalism, and hyper-individualism (each of which we have been conditioned to
embrace as �normal,� healthy, and inevitable), most decent human beings recoil
in horror. Objectively, we want to be the Good Samaritan, but have been
dogmatically trained to be the Levite.
While most of us
aren�t evil by nature, the psychic disfigurement caused by our dedication to
hyper-individualism manifests itself in some very ugly ways. However, we have
the power to regurgitate the intellectual manure we have been digesting since
birth and focus our time, energy, thoughts and actions to honoring the social
contract as Rousseau prescribed:
�Each of us
puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the
general will; and in a body we receive each member as an indivisible part of
It�s time to abandon the childish notion that it is �all about me.� The
world is in flames, in large part because of us. We need to be Samaritans, not
Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who
strives to remain intellectually free. He is Cyrano's Journal Online's associate editor and publishes Thomas Paine's Corner within Cyrano's.
You can reach him at JMiller@bestcyrano.com.