I saw this picture recently and my first instinct was to lash out at the person (who somewhat frequently posts on political topics). But before I did my Greek training kicked in and I started thinking about the real meaning of the term (affairs of the city or we might say society). Suddenly it jumped into my head that while picture wants us to associate politicians with blood-sucking parasites the true message is that we all are blood-sucking parasites. The dysfunction in our own selves and families contributes to the larger failures of society and government as a whole. The vested interest in “me” and “my own” eliminates the potential for a government which is anything other than corrupt.
The problem of greed runs throughout our lives and becomes more and more manifest as we see it play out on the social scale. Politicians are greedy people and they work for greedy people; they are people who horde assets and they work for people who do the same. How do politicians climb to power, because they align with the selfish goals of other groups and/or people (lobbies or donors). Often the motive begins and sometimes remains with personal ethics, the politician is looking out for the district or a specific cause he or she believes strongly in. But what happens is the politicians directs all her or his energy toward that small community prospering to the neglect of all others. other people with like-minded goals see to it that that individual prospers and there you have it ethics are polluted by greed and the politician seems corrupt.
As an example consider the depiction of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith Show. Now this is a fictionalized and idealized community but this community sought generosity and love for their neighbors and look at how the government operated, like Andy. The government sought the interest of the ENTIRE community and those responsible for the government helped each person as a person.
I do realize I am oversimplifying the mess and there are often politicians who are simply greedy and crooked, but I’m trying to be positive. The reality simply is often the systems we create exaggerate our own worst tendencies. Our inability to be generous and commit to the idea of plenty results in a culture which hordes resources, instead of helping everyone thrive. That same tendency spreads into the government and the politicians tasked with its care. The same is true of security, we live in a culture of fear and so our government and politicians become obsessed with surveillance and secrets.
The root of the problem is not a few bad eggs in Washington or any other capital. The root of the problem is me; and how I relate to my neighbors. If I am afraid of my neighbors or stingy with my neighbors because I am concerned they will take advantage of me, then I will contribute to a culture of fear and greed. I will tend to support people for office who can help protect me and mine and I will want to advance them in the political system. The result will be these people will support me and harm my neighbor tearing down the bond between me and my neighbor.
The solution… I don’t know there is one and if there is it will be painful. But the realization of the state of politics should flash the spotlight back to me as the beginning of the problem. After all the U.S. Constitution begins, “”We the people…” that’s me, not the politician. The problem is that often times I like most people celebrate my greed while condemning the same actions in others. “Why do they have to take mine, can’t they simply be satisfied with what they have?” We have invested in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” meaning if those elected to represent the people are blood sucking parasites then so are the people. Maybe the best thing I can do is learn to be more generous in my own life.
This was very helpful for me in shaping my understanding of generosity. https://thebibleproject.com/podcast/abundance-or-scarcity/