There are sleazy back-street chop shops around the world — making big bucks chopping up stolen cars for their salable parts. But if I were to pick the worst, I’d pick the one we all participate in every day of our lives. The shop of public opinion in which we are unwittingly chopping up the body politic
Here’s what I mean.
Our body politic — like all living breathing organisms — consists of countless working parts that make up the whole. A mix of social institutions and business operations that together creates this thing we call America. Now as long as we see America as this symbiotic whole, we’re doing our job as citizens. But as soon as we start seeing America as just so many salable parts, we’re fast helping to destroy it.
Consider lately the way we intuitively sub-divide America into its parts: The government…the banks ….the military …the schools…the hospitals…the South…the Hispanics…the poor….religion…Hollywood. All parts of America, true, but conveniently chopping them up this way into separate parts, we are mis- understanding this vast organic thing known as the United States of America.
Still, we do it anyway. I mean, it’s easier. Handier. As in: “The government is the problem.” “The banks are stealing from us.” “The military wastes billions.” “The schools are a failure.”
Time for a citizen reality-check.
None of these institutions is simply one, big IT. Each instead is a sprawling, multi-million-peopled daily operation to which no single face, no single label, and no single flaw can be attached. For instance. The government is not some evil empire on the Potomac; it’s the mail-carriers on your block, the cops on your streets, the controllers in your airports, and the food & drug inspectors throughout the nation’s industries. The same with General Motors, AT&T, Microsoft, and Kraft Foods.
Every large group — institutions, corporations, associations, lobbies alike — are millions of people whose totality at the end of the day is that proverbial whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts. Seen this way, suddenly these groups becomes a much more complicated object to either praise or condemn.
This is not to say there are not miscreants out there for angry citizens to shoot at and condemn. Only it’s better we do it as an informed posse, not another raging lynch mob heading for the closest chop shop.
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