Happy Days…

I, for one, am quite excited about the patriotic opportunity to pay even more for my individually-purchased health care.  After all, the cost of progress ought to be the elimination of anyone who can’t afford progress.  Or something like that.

This article is nice, but also pointless.  It decries the cynicism that ultimately prevents meaningful change or challenge to the status quo, but does not offer any remedy (which is ironic, considering the article’s title).  The closest the article gets to an antidote is for Congress to start acting decisively and without fear of recrimination.
That’s convenient, but ridiculous.  Convenient because it excuses me from having to do the hard work.  Ridiculous because it requires that hard work be initiated and borne by those who seem least capable of conceiving of it.  
Congress consists of people who have learned through careful grooming in one of our two political parties that the key to their success and survival – and therefore, tangentially, the key to the success and survival of their views on important issues – is completely dependent on not rocking the party boat and not rocking other boats because the resulting waves are unpredictable and might swamp your own.  They have learned that their constituents are largely uninformed and apathetic over the things that they as elected officials are supposed to be intimately familiar with and deeply passionate about.  
What possible motivation might they have to take on the IRS, or the Executive Branch, or the Judicial Branch?  What possible benefit could it have to them personally, or even to their constituents?  And if there is no personal benefit, on what grounds should they sacrifice their political stature?
There is an antidote to cynicism, and it is called hope.  It is not grown in the political environment.  It does not happen in the wild for more than fleeting moments.  But hope – the real, lasting, unwavering hope that provides the impetus and the strength to endure a long struggle – has to come from without.  It must have an objective source that cannot be exhausted and is not dependent on political or ideological tides.
Working for change requires a belief that change is possible, even in the most entrenched and jaded of systems.  Democracy claims that and even affords us the mechanisms to make those changes in theory.  But it requires individuals to act out of a sense of hope that is grounded in something more than themselves and self-interest.  It requires a sense of sacrifice sometimes, being willing to struggle and endure hardship for a long-term goal that will be better for everyone.  Democracy calls us to these ideals but disappoints us when we attempt to realize them.  The hope that fuels and inspires change and courage isn’t democracy itself, but has to go deeper than that.
Democracy assumes individuals who are willing to work hard and to do the right thing, acting selflessly when necessary, with the firm belief that sooner or later their sacrifices will be worth it.  We didn’t fight in World War I or World War II for the intangible notion of democracy.  We fought those wars because we believed as a society in firm notions of right and wrong, good and evil, and the imperative that evil has to be confronted and stopped, even if it requires our own personal deprivation or death.  
Such a sacrifice isn’t possible if we don’t believe that it really matters.  Democracy can provide us with the tools to act on what really matters, but not the basis, not the objective source of hope.  That has to come from some place deeper that tells us not only that certain things do matter, but what certain things matter.  That defines good as well as evil on a scale far more than what I personally prefer or want, and may in fact condemn my own personal preferences as evil.  
That deeper, objective source of hope lies in an empty tomb on the other side of the world.  The actual tomb itself is uncertain, because what mattered and matters most is not the particular piece of dirt that is empty, but rather the person that occupied that bit of dirt for a brief period.  This is the objective source of hope, the authoritative declaration of what is right and wrong and the promise that enables us to contend for the right 2000 years later.  
I am set free to struggle for the right  and to contend against evil because I know that my struggle, whether successful or not, is not in vain.  I struggle against evil and for the right because I know that the truth has already won.  The empty tomb is the proof of this.  The man that came out of that tomb, the man who predicted being put into the tomb and by whom and for how long, has declared that evil has been defeated, that not even death can hold us any longer.  The teeth of evil have been smashed.  While it may feign and posture and threaten and intimidate and tempt and entice, it has no teeth to hold what it cajoles or extorts.  
Or, to quote Obi Wan Kenobi, (because, really, who else would you want to quote?) “Strike me down, Darth, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”  Except not me, per se, but the one who lives in me.  
The antidote for cynicism is hope.  The only source of hope strong enough to embolden us to fight the good fight is assurance that our fight matters regardless of what it does to us personally, that in joining the fray, we are already on the side of the Victor.  
Praising the Lord is the ammunition, it turns out.  

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