If there’s one time I’d rather not be out in my yard (and I mean anywhere on our forty acres) it’s on a Sunday afternoon – particularly in the summertime. I live in a rural, forested, area with a scant population with even scantier employment prospects.
There’s a Christian church just half a mile down the road. It’s the sort of place where – to quote Philippians 4:7, “…the peace of God… passeth all understanding.”
Or, at least, it should. But not on a Sunday afternoon.
There aren’t too many parishioners. The local pastor and his flock are somewhat geographically diverse. Nonetheless, the little car park is full to overflowing most Sunday mornings as the faithful gather for worship.
Not being a believer myself, I’ve no idea with which sermonical subjects the pastor chooses to bewitch his flock each seventh day. However, despite my non-attendance, I’m quite certain he does not exhort his parishioners to “…go forth this Sabbath afternoon and slaughter every four legged creature sufficiently unfortunate to stumble into thy gunsights.”
Yet, this is exactly what they do. Church, home, Sunday dinner, gun, forest, commence blasting, though, not necessarily in that order. All one can be sure of is that “Church” comes first.
Welcome to Christianity, American style.
On Sunday afternoons I prefer not to wander outside in case I catch a stray bullet.
According to Victor Tan Chen, a fellow of sociology at UC Berkeley, unemployed Americans blame themselves for their predicament and see themselves as failures.
According to a BBC report:
Experts tell the BBC that job seekers in the US are now, more than ever, blaming themselves for being out of work, due in part to misconceptions about what it takes to succeed in America…the American Dream thrived in the 1950s, a period of booming manufacturing and a burgeoning American middle class.
But new rules started to take shape in the 1970s with the rise of globalisation and automation, Chen says.
Companies faced greater competition and unions began to lose power. Manufacturing jobs were replaced by service sector opportunities with lower wages. And nearly overnight, factory towns – where employers lived among the men and women they employed – were replaced by global enterprises.
The isolation of elite managers grew, and their sense of public engagement diminished, Chen explains.
“Now it’s more by yourself, being on your own, sink or swim,” he adds.
It really doesn’t take a degree in sociology to work that one out. American life revolves around competition. Winning is all important. But for every winner there has to be x number of losers, otherwise the ‘winner’ simply couldn’t win.
The American Dream has never been more than a myth. Capitalism was sold to the world as the ‘Great Opportunity’. The sky was the limit. You could be anything you wanted to be, if you just worked hard enough, and there was no better place to achieve success than in America.
The truth was that America was no different than anywhere else. Entrepreneurs have arisen from every corner of the globe. Americans were educated to believe their country was the greatest, way better than any other, much as the British were during the days of Empire.
Capitalism must always be ultimately self-defeating. At its core is the doctrine of wealth by purloining money from the less well off. Take, for example, the Walton family of Walmart fame; they became one of the wealthiest in the world by coining their immense income from the wage packets of the lowest paid in society.
To succeed as a capitalist you have to rise to a position where you can procure money from the masses. In essence, capitalism can’t thrive without vast numbers of ordinary working people. When it stops thriving, those poor people end up out of work, have no money to spend in Walmart, and the whole system spirals into recession.
Sadly, in that situation, the concept of the “American Dream” backfires, showering shame and a sense of failure on those who, in reality, are merely the victims of a capitalist society where greed is the sole motivation.
There is, however, one aspect of capitalism that appears a one hundred percent success. However poverty-threatened they may be, good Christian folks can still find the cash to buy the bullets to slaughter any creature sufficiently unfortunate to stray near my backyard on a Sunday afternoon.
“American Dream breeds shame and blame for job seekers” BBC, March 25th 2014