I have always been astonished by the tale of how certain Asian tribes catch monkeys. Upon placing a piece of fruit into a hole carved in a tree trunk that the monkey can easily reach his hand in and grab, he soon alarmingly learns that he cannot extract his closed fist from the trap once he has taken hold of his prize. To extricate himself, all he need do is release his grip on the morsel. But since this solution is beyond the greedy beast's comprehension, he is hopelessly caught by his own nature -- effectively ensnared by that which he could not resist nor go without to his own enslavement or destruction.
Before we ridicule in a haughty spirit of self-satisfaction that pathetic simian, a bit of introspection might be in order. How teeming the earth is with the bones of men and women who could not relinquish their grasp, nor unball their fists at that object which clouded their reason and set ablaze their desire? Having grown accustomed to the intoxicating charm of putting: bottle to mouth, needle to vein, or partner to bed, mankind has precipitated a near infinite number of self-inflicted tragedies through its inability to affect rational change -- or to stop and say, "No longer." And while many have sought that repentance in good faith, an even greater multitude, like Lot's Wife, dared to glance back over their shoulders to a certain smoking ruin.
That being said: Heaven help us. America, that great shining City of the West, is likewise obsessed with the lure of luxuries we cannot pay for and promises that can never be fulfilled. In the brief span of my lifetime, our country's great heritage as Miraculous Creator of Wealth and Innovation has been erased -- passing in a single generation from greatest producer to greatest debtor. Blame it on the political class who bartered bread and circuses for power. Blame it on the naïve and compassionate who believed that they could cure the canker in the human heart by filling it with silver. Blame it on dreamers who believed they could impose the veneer of benign peace on a savage world. Blame it on the wraith in our mirrors whose itching ears and sleepy dreams of pleasure assured us that at the rainbow's end there was a Sea of Treasure -- when in reality, there was only a towering invoice scrawled in blood, requiring: "Payment Due."
We could perhaps save ourselves if we could only summon our courage and unclench our fists. But having decayed so far and grown so indolent in our neediness: we shall not. Until we are confronted with enough excruciating pain to awaken us from this American Dream that has been somehow wrangled into a nightmare, we shall hold tightfisted in our navigational heading approaching zero. It is not within the capacity for an immoderate people to any longer affect that spirit of virtue. It is no longer within us collectively to say: "No Longer."
As hyperinflation, want, and tyranny steal in through our back door and beguile us as their worthless pawns, remember that on the other side of the world, a helpless creature waits to be somehow delivered from his fate -- but that help will not be forthcoming. Pray that he perchance finds within himself the fortitude to go against the devils of his baser nature and escape his doom; and then pray also for the redemption of America.
Glenn Fairman writes from Southern California. He blogs as The Eloquent Professor at http://www.palookavillepost.com/ and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.