Sunday, July 29, 2018

Enough


Several weeks ago, former President Obama delivered a lecture memorializing one of the last centuries' true great men, South Africa's Nelson Mandela. Obama returned to his roots, eloquently defending Mandela's vision, and his own.

I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision. I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King and Abraham Lincoln. I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multiracial democracy, built on the premise that all people are created equal, and they’re endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible, and that it can achieve more peace and more coöperation in pursuit of a common good. That’s what I believe.

I was struck reading the text (recommended) by what seemed almost a throwaway affirmation -- one of great significance for those of us lucky enough to live in a rich country, very much among the planet's winners. Since leaving office, Obama has clearly been able to ensure his family's position among our U.S. winners. They are not, perhaps, one percent level, but they are surely among the most comfortable of the comfortable. Nonetheless, he reminded us of what underlies a sustainable future for humankind:

There’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so big a house you can have. There’s only so many nice trips you can take. I mean … it’s enough! You don’t have to take a vow of poverty just to say, “Well, let me help out. Let me look at that child out there who doesn’t have enough to eat or needs some school fees. Let me help him out. I’ll pay a little more in taxes. It’s O.K. I can afford it.” I mean, it shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more.

A hard truth where global capitalism thrives, but necessary for survival.

2 comments:

Rain Trueax said...

Pretty words but doesn't work that way for most. More taxes means more government to dole them out. Socialism always sounds nice but it doesn't create wealth-- it tries to redistribute it. The problem with our income inequality will only be fixed by better jobs, which means a stronger economy and competition. Government only makes itself more overweight with more programs and more bureaucrats. I see him as a hypocrite when he lives in a mansion, flies wherever he wants, and parties with the stars but then calls for more taxes. He has the American dream-- plus and he got it off fame, his ability to speak well, and our system. I don't begrudge him what he has but his words won't get it for someone else- but will just take it away from them. When he had power, the real kind, he didn't use it to fix the health care system (unless someone thinks more money for pharmaceuticals and no competition for Medicare fixed anything). He didn't put his cred into fixing immigration. He is one of my bigger disappointments in politics and that's saying a lot.

Rain Trueax said...

and what dems have done to college tuition makes it less possible for middle class families to get any part of the American dream without massive debt. That happened under the Obama years.

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