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Soul Mending

By Yvonne Zarowny

 

12/07/2016

Trump reveals the true ugliness of our culture of death

“No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon (money).”
 — Matthew 6:24
 
My last column began an exploration of how a too-narrow conceptualization of “pro-life” helps perpetuate our culture of death.  
 
It was prompted by the persistence of “pro-life” still being falsely equated with “anti-choice” legislation by many clerics and the Knights of Columbus in the 2016 March for Life.
 
With some clerics and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stating in the 2016 U.S. election cycle that the only issue Catholics were to consider is abortion, this exploration continues.
 
Given Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ insistence on integral human development that respects life with dignity for all God’s Creation, and the threats with which we are confronted, why do some powerful Catholics persist in reducing our rich tradition to a single issue?
 
These threats include:  
 
·the existential threat to our and other species caused by the environmental devastation of a development mode which requires infinite growth on a finite planet;

·a socially engineered economy intentionally designed to siphon wealth and power to a tiny few while risking the common good of all;

·the greatest number of people in human history displaced or seeking refuge; and

·an increasingly chaotic world socially, politically and economically due to the above.
 
Neither the Clintons nor the Obamas actually addressed these. 
 
Like Paul Martin and Justin Trudeau, they gave a polite veneer to a mode of development which systemically enables the corporate elite to murder people, destroy communities, sue governments and rape the Earth — for profit.
 
The arrogant, lying, bullying Donald Trump ripped off that veneer. 
 
Being represented to the world by such a man is traumatizing for many Americans. This is evidenced by the throngs demonstrating against his manipulation of people’s valid fears, anger and disenchantment with their political elite.
 
To me, he more accurately represents how many in the world experience the manner in which the U.S. and “the west” use its enormous economic and military power.
 
By ripping off the veneer, Trump revealed to Americans and the world the true ugliness of our culture of death.  

Once again people realize we live in a “post-truth” world where emotional manipulation rules. We have been living in such a world since the turn of the last century. 
 
That is when the British, then the Americans and then global corporations started to use the insights gleaned from anthropology, sociology and psychology to scientifically manipulate us to make “democracies” manageable for the socio-economic elite — without our knowing it.   
 
Edward Bernays wrote about this in his 1928 classic Propaganda. 
 
Goebbels studied Bernays as the Germans identified the Anglo-American propaganda model as a significant factor in their losing the First World War.
 
When we had a brief opening of something resembling a functioning democracy in Canada and the U.S. following the Second World War, the likes of the Koch Brothers and their global libertarian “Freedom Partners” started to fund disinformation/misinformation “anti-government” campaigns through so-called “free enterprise think-tanks” in the 1970s. 
 
They and others who disproportionally profit from a development mode that requires us to consume ourselves to death used every trick in the book to deny or confuse the public about the actual scientific consensus linking human activity to climate chaos. 
 
As Thomas Frank and numerous others have documented for any who care to know, they also invested in intentionally developing certain “issues” to be “hot-button” faith issues — such as abortion.  These were cultivated to be used as wedge issues to ensure we don’t unite to co-create actual cultures of life where all have life with dignity. 
 
According to Miguel Diaz, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, the papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi reminded him that Catholics must always be “pro-life.” However, Sambi stressed, “pro-life” means so much more than being pro-life in the womb!”
 
However, you won’t find a whiff of that on EWTN which is a very well, yet mysteriously funded, American global media network that calls itself Catholic. The last I checked their God and Creation tab hadn’t been updated since 1997 and had nothing about Laudato Si’.  
 
This, even though Pope Francis states environmental devastation is “the” existential threat confronting us. 

That is, if we don’t change our development mode our very existence is threatened.
 
We need to ask who benefits and who pays from such a reductionist and simplistic understanding of “pro-life” and if these are the “masters” our faith calls us to serve. I suggest a clue is to be found in the stock market surge since Trump was named president-elect.
 
Another clue is found in Trump “not believing” in human-generated climate chaos and his promise to gut any remaining environmental regulation — even if he did quip early in his campaign he was so rich he didn’t need Koch Bros. funding.
 
As we celebrate the birthing anew of Love, Hope and the Promise of the Christ Child, may we deepen our understanding of what it means to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
 
May that enable us as church to stop being manipulated into serving two masters.
 
Then may we lovingly and joyously go forth to heal our souls by transforming our worlds into ones where all God’s Creation has life with dignity for the full continuum.

An educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.

An educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.