What sort of time is it?

I’m having a frustrating time discerning our cultural indicators and what they suggest regarding the direction of our national life at home and how this commonly accepted life is effecting the world. I don’t know whether the time in which we are living is another cyclical period of human history or whether we may be living within a different sort of time – a time that marks a shift in human history or at least within our national life.
I watched the second half of Spike Lee’s HBO documentary (WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS) on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how New Orleans and New Orleanians are dealing with it all. There was a comment made by, I believe, an historian from a prominent university who said that we as a nation can have available all the money we need to do what we really think is important. Of course, there is often a difference between what our government wants and does and what the people think should be done. I wonder whether the divide between the government and the governed is growing at an ever faster pace these days?
We spend, what?, almost one billion dollars a day on the war in Iraq that has ultimately made Islamic radicals and the resulting terrorists more resolved in their campaign against the U.S. and the West in general and more numerous in membership. We can find the money to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaigns. Yet, we cannot find the money to rebuild New Orleans in a timely manner; we cannot find the money to build new levies that are world class (as the Dutch do); we cannot find the money to enable poor New Orleanians to return to their refurbished homes; we cannot find the money to clean up non-tourist areas; we cannot find within ourselves the will to hold government and private interests accountable for the common good rather than their own exclusive interests, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Spike Lee included a video-clip of the senior Bushes at the Houston Astrodome not long after Katrina and Barbara, Mother-of-the-Nation, was saying how a lot of these people were destitute to begin with that this has actually made their lives better – as she surveyed all the people sleeping on cots with only the cloths in such a nice venue.
I have this underlying suspicion that those in positions of power are clueless about how average people live in this country and the world over. There is a disconnect that they do not recognize – a disconnect between what is assumed to be and what really is. Let them eat cake! I also have this underlying suspicion that those nefarious people in government whose only concern is the enrichment of their own is growing unrestrained and their attitude is increasingly unapologetic in their self-justification. The poor disserve to be poor because they are lazy and inferior. (Of course, this attitude is only encouraged by the very American but pseudo-Christian “Prosperity Movement” – God blesses those who are doing right by Him with material wealth and prosperity, and we can deduce what that then means concerning the poor.)
What does this say about our nation – about our government and the forces that shape our culture and self-understanding? What does this say about both the generosity of our people who helped those fleeing the hurricane and the same people who refuse to hold their government accountable? Perhaps, and this is sad, a majority of the populous is so disengaging from the political process, our history, current-events, and governmental processes, that a small group of self-interested people can run free as they use the government and the peoples’ money to enrich themselves. Are we more interested in being entertained than being competent and responsible citizens? A democracy cannot be sustained without an informed populace that is engaged in their governance.
One life-long New Orleanian woman said something like, “We need a government that really cares about the people!” We were warned many years ago that if the American people discover that they could raid the coffers of government for their own enrichment that the republic could not stand. Government officials have imbibed from the teat of the people’s money for a long time, but now it is becoming commonplace and unchallenged by the very people who are supposed to hold government officials accountable. The worse part is that the American people are now starting to become drunk on the same possibility of personal enrichment.
The bad that happens in government will continue unless we, the people, hold our elected officials accountable – unless we elect competent people in the first place, liberal or conservative. We need to hold our representatives accountable concerning how our money is spent and on whom it is spent. Our government can fund a misplaced war that at present seems only to be encouraging and strengthening our foes, or we can demand that it spends our money on assisting those that have been ravaged by forces not of their control. The issues are complex, I know, but something just doesn’t seem to right – and not right in a different sense than under previous administrations or previous times in our history. Is this true, or just my impression?
We have had periods of tremendous corruption and misplaced policies in our nation’s past. Is this just another of those kinds of times, or are we entering into a different sort of time when the trajectory of our nation moves in a different direction? It seems the direction we are moving is not good. That which is good is being called bad, and that which is bad is being called good.
Something like that, anyway.