“THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US; LATE AND SOON”
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
William Wordsworth, 1803
The world is too much with us. On a personal scale, while driving to work this morning, I counted seventeen stop lights during the twelve-mile trip between my home and office. This is just a petty annoyance, with no serious implications to my health and welfare. However, the big, important issues are also clogged in a giant Pandora’s box, resulting in mega-sensations of helplessness.
My cousin, who is very well politically read and informed, also felt this frustration just the other day. She concluded that the problems that have befallen our nation are “bigger than we are, bigger than ANY President.” She is so correct. This statement is not offered as an excuse for our current predicaments, but rather as an acknowledgment to spur us on to find new solutions. Our economic crisis based on an overabundance of what we want versus what we can afford, our denial of climate factors that are certainly destroying our planet, the crush of big business over the little guys, the enormous and still growing gap between the top 1% of American earners and the rest of us, our refusal to institute any cohesive immigration policy, our fairy-tale wish that the old jobs in the old industries are actually coming back and finally, please note that all of these issues are underscored and magnified by a vacuum of individual values and standards deemed acceptable by public figures, all contribute to a nation paralyzed by the present and in denial about the future.
Historically, part of this gridlock may exist by design. Here is a great article explaining that while it appears that our government is lazy and ineffectual, perhaps the Founding Fathers wanted it that way when they wrote the Constitution. The United States is a nation politically divided almost perfectly in half. The founders wanted every safeguard, layer upon layer of checks and balances and ongoing protection against a possible power play of one party over another. Did they go too far in their visions? I do not think so. In fact, our leaders today have used that prophylactic, constitutional template as an excuse to not legislate but use their offices as a means for personal fulfillment. That is the real crime going on here.
Where has President Obama been the last few months? Are the international and domestic situations really out of his control, much less anyone’s? Why have we agreed to contribute funds, equipment and manpower to finance a third war? Why are we still in Afghanistan when we have met our goal of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice? How can we justify building hospitals, schools and militaries in Iraq, Afghanistan et al when we are slashing funds here at home for the same needs?
Likewise, most of the globe is experiencing the same hardships that America is undergoing. We cannot, we must not, justify the gifting of our assets to offset the austerity measures of other nations. We are all in the same boat and those assets are needed here at home. Whether it is giving a handout to Greece, other hard-hit European nations, or our ideological allies and enemies in the Mideast, Asia and Africa to help win them over to our side, we must focus more on our own homeland. There is just so much approach-avoidance behavior that our President and legislators can get away with. Political spin is not going to fill the bill. Likewise, an admission that the job IS bigger than any one person or government, while perhaps true, cannot be ceded to. A happy medium between getting things done and attracting the vote must be found. Without that balance, we truly are a “standstill nation.”
Another huge problem is the ever-widening gap between the rich and the middle class. People in the U.S. and globally are feeling the injustice, both ideologically and economically, and are reacting to it. Whether or not it is of our ideological belief, the world is boiling over. The Arab Spring is an example. However, so too are the supporters of al Qaeda and the Taliban; just because we do not agree with their ideas, does not mean that they are any less devoted to their philosophy. Economically, the ever-burgeoning abyss between the wealthy and the middle class is causing demonstrations and an even deeper divide here and abroad. This article is quite an eye-opener about the financial profile of Americans. Our level of financial inequality is below that of such developing countries, such as Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. How’s that for enlightenment for ya’?
Nationally, where does the President get off, all of a sudden yesterday, stating that gay marriage should be decided by the states? That was the biggest copout I have seen. His intention was not to offend the largest voting population as possible. However, clearly he knows that ultimately, gay marriage will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Citing “states’ rights” is invariably a ruse for avoiding a current question honestly, thus avoiding any political fallout. I am embarrassed that he stooped to that strategy.
Yes, President Obama has a very important election coming up in 2012. Does that mean that he will avoid all the hot-button issues that need to be addressed immediately? Does that also mean that our Congressmen and Senators will likewise shy away from the problems that need to be tackled? It looks that way. I do not think that this was the intention of our Founding Fathers when they designed the Constitution.
As for our President, I daresay that he will meet with a formidable presidential contender in Jon Huntsman. In fact, there is not too much criticism that President Obama can direct at Huntsman because it was President Obama who chose Huntsman for that highly placed diplomatic assignment as Ambassador to China. The president would be dissing himself if he comes down too hard on Huntsman. So our president better start taking chances, taking specific sides and getting our government to do what they were elected to do: legislate. Every time I turn around, our Congressmen are yet on another two-week hiatus. I wonder how many weeks they have had off since they voted on a piece of legislation.
As Wordsworth wrote, the world is too much with us. Couple that inertia with an absence of personal responsibility and a void of standards, both of which our elected officials are perfectly willing to have spill over into their professional lives, and the world doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of overcoming that inertia. Nevertheless, what is our alternative? That is the battle we must continue to recognize and fight.
Or, we could just spin the truth the way Harry Reid did in the following story. I readily admit that this is a petty distortion in the scheme of things, but nevertheless, incidents like this one run rampant in our halls of government, stemming of course, from the twisted, lying characters of those that occupy those halls of government:
And Anthony Weiner has a disease. Right.
The world just might be too much with us. On my way to eat lunch today, I counted twenty-four traffic lights in the eight-mile trip between my house and the Pho restaurant I frequent. I would surely settle for these daily frustrations as a trade for progress in the wider scope of things, i.e. an effective, caring and just government.
Please try to find the time and make the effort to read the five links I have included above. They are great explanations of why things are the way they are. Thanks.