Too Big To Function

Bank of America Tower
Bank of America Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How did we get so big? When I was a kid there were local shops where I bought school clothes. Even the larger department stores were not in every city. You could tell an area by the uniqueness of its small businesses. Not every town or city looked the same, like it does now.

My mom knew the president at the bank. The company that delivered milk and eggs to our house was a local company. These days if you travel the country, you can see Wal-Mart everywhere. Bank of America is everywhere. McDonald’s and Starbucks are everywhere. Nothing distinguishes one place from another anymore. The local flavor of small business and small community has been stripped of individuality. What happened to the rules and regulation about monopoly? What happened to the rules and regulation about banks? Everything has become so big, and we blindly or impotently accept that too big means don’t fu*k with it, or something bad will happen.

Something bad has already happened and it is breaking the collective American heart. What has happened is that the greed of power and money has seeped into Washington like an innocuous gas and put our leaders (who used to be public servants, but aren’t anymore) to sleep. . . Asleep to the corporate-ization of America. We are a corporate-ocracy. We are no longer a democracy. The bi-partisan stand-off in Washington, where nothing gets done anymore, is the result of corporate money that speaks louder and stronger than the voice of the people. Look at what has just happened with Monsanto.  They were granted all kinds of leeway in spite of a huge outcry from the public.  The results could be harmful to our health and our land, but Monsanto’s profits became center stage for “importance.”  Too big” means “Big Bully.”

I read a lot of blogs, newspapers, and books and the prevailing theme of our current “too big to fail and too big to jail,” system is creating a terrible despair among the citizens of our country. It is a despair that is resigning and resolving itself to be voiceless and powerless, infecting the heart and soul of our citizenry.

We have become so “business/profit” oriented that we are forgetting that great nations take care of their own and work through and with government and leadership to make a country that works for everyone. There is a lot of rhetoric from big business these days about how government is bad, and while I agree that government can always improve, it is not really a bad thing—it is the thing that unites us a people and directs us to living a good life—it can be a protector and advocate for its people, but it has stopped being that. Now there is a war against the poor—those lazy losers; a disdain for the elderly and the sick—they should have made millions so that they could care for themselves, and a sickening attitude of intolerance when it comes to women’s reproductive health care and gay marriage. In other words, lets unravel the bad, bad government, but let’s make sure that we regulate people’s bodies and bedrooms. It all feels like Alice on acid, stuck in a rabbit hole from which there is no return.

The problem, so clearly defined, raises then the question of the hour: what can one ordinary citizen do? How can I as an individual who loves my country make a change in this horrid “too big” corporate-ocracy that is trying to pass itself off as America? How do we find our way again, shake off the despair and compel our leaders to lead? It’s a hard challenge. I cannot afford to make $10,000.00 donations to various members of congress, so why should anyone care what I think? Are we resigning ourselves to a truth that without money to control Washington, we ordinary citizens are powerless? Is there one thing that each one of us can do to turn this ship around, or is it too late?

Author:

Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

19 thoughts on “Too Big To Function

  1. We are big aren’t we – so big that many individuals seem to think they can’t make a difference – and who wants to? After all, the government will solve it; will take care of the needy, the poor, the sick – but that’s the job of each of us. If ‘personal responsibility’ were the politically correct approach to life – we’d still be a huge, growing country, but one that gives freedom and dignity to all – from the tiny, unborn life, snuffed out without regard for the fact that it is LIFE, to the sick, to the elderly – we’d all have value and purpose. Thanks for your good post and for reading my post – it led me to you!

    1. I am all for personal responsibility and I also believe that one of the functions of government is to help its people. A five year old, born into poverty may have difficulty taking “personal responsibility” for their conditions. That child deserves to be well fed and to be educated, so while some individuals may help in this regard, from my point of view programs like Head Start deserve government funding. It we are to create a true culture of “life” then all of us, including government must participate in that role and show care and compassion the “life” of the people. We live in an county where Monsanto gets hugs tax breaks, and Head Start gets cut. Something is terribly wrong with this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter, and I agree–creating an individual life of purpose is an ideal to which we all can aspire.

  2. Something that does need to be looked into. However there is point you mentioned that I would like to touch on, “We have become so “business/profit” oriented that we are forgetting that great nations take care of their own and work through and with government and leadership to make a country that works for everyone.”

    I thought about that point for a while. I realize that in a sense it seems to contradict itself. On one hand yes it is true that great nations work with the government and leadership to make things work. On the other hand the second point implies that being business/profit oriented is the problem behind that. The thing is that it is the businesses that also play a huge role in creating a country that works for everyone. For me it is more the direction that the profit is pointed that impacts the nation, not necessarily its existence. Therefore:

    1) Businesses should work alongside government and education (three pillars that make up a country) in order to create projects that aid the less fortunate. They should initiate certain social laws that help charity organizations and NGO’s make a difference in the lives of the individuals they take care of.

    2) We ourselves can play a part by fundraising or participating in building projects that can help the less fortunate, those in debt, those finished with college with nothing to start with, and many others in similar situations, or come up with strategic ways to donate on a very regular basis to various charity organizations. There is a very important decision we can make, either:

    a) We complain and continue discussions on what the government should do to help people

    or

    b) Be the vessels of hope for those who have none.

    1. You make excellent points and I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness of your comments. It gives me hope that there is room in the collective dialogue for coming together in solution. I certainly do not mean to imply that profit motivation is a bad thing; but I do believe that profit motivation that is exclusive of human rights, the environment, or the law of the land is what has gotten us so far off track in this country. I very much agree with your vision of business, education and government working together. All, as you point out, have responsibility in creating a country that works for everyone. Yes, I want to be a vessel of hope and I also want our government to start focusing on things like education and infrastructure.For example, there have been many ideas floated about private business and government coming together in an infrastructure project…I just don’t understand why we can’t seem to pull something like that off.

      I will read your comments again…as I said I am appreciative of the “thinking” dialogue you have put forth. Thank you so much for taking the time and care.

      1. Yeah my pleasure. I found you because you had liked another post on destiny and fate. I also thought that was pretty good. I wanted to find out who you were and what you were about. Thought I start with this post.

        Looking forward to more of what you have to say. Really enjoy your blog.

  3. “Nothing distinguishes one place from another anymore.”—This is so true. I’m reminded of when my husband and I finally visited Hawaii a few years back. We got off the plane expecting to be transported to another world, and the first things we saw were Lowe’s and other big chain stores! Of course, once we got to the beach, it was beautiful, and I know my expectations were a bit naive, but it still threw me for a loop.

  4. Stephanie, I’m afraid in a world driven by money, it is money that speaks the loudest of all! I’d bet that 2/3 of the politicians and lawmakers don’t really believe in what they profess. They just follow the ideas of those who pay for their pathetic way of life!

    Take care and don’t let the ways of the world get you down!

    Skip

  5. This rings so true for me. I’ve never been able to put into words the way this country makes me feel but you have done so perfectly for me. I don’t have answers to your questions because I am asking the same exact thing! Thanks for stopping by my page which led me here 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for this post, and especially for mentioning Monsanto. They are the company of my nightmares… literally. I feel so strongly about organic and local options, as well as helping any local small business. I, too, once knew our milkman, but that was in a small town in Minnesota fifteen years ago. The times really have changed. I hope they can change back. Thanks again!

  7. I’ve written a LOT of posts about the state of our democracy AND our economy. Many authors more knowledgeable than me have written books on these subjects. But I must say that your concise post, “Too Big To Function,” touches most of the important bases, and identifies the problem(s) in a way that’s crystal clear. If I were reading your post on paper, I’d want to highlight nearly every sentence. Well done.

    Regarding your final question, I have no easy answers. In fact, we’ve gone so far down the “too big” road to corruption, that I’m not very optimistic about the future. Nonetheless, we must maintain hope.

    I’ll set aside the economic problems you outline and focus in on the political. What can one person do? Real democracy requires two things: Voters and Candidates. The voters are losing heart because the choice of good candidates is so limited. When an important job in the private sector is open, hundreds of people often apply. But inn many state and local elections, only one or two candidates run for an important office. Often, the incumbent is the ONLY candidate, meaning the voters have no choice at all. Of course the outsized influence of money in politics is a big part of the problem. I wish ordinary people who might be candidates wouldn’t let the money issue paralyze them.

    Some local races can be run with almost no money. Rarely, willing contributors will materialize out of thin air. Maybe you just run on a shoestring and a prayer. In this age of social media, it is probably more feasible for an unknown, unfinanced candidate to get their message out through persistent, skillful use of social media. Long story short, what can one person do? Vote, of course. But also consider running for office.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read, but also for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully on the challenge presented in the essay. I look forward to becoming more familiar with your blog…once you get that film developed 😉 In the meantime, I appreciate your insights and suggestions. Vote, yes…number one and I am wondering if next is the effort to get the big money out of elections and put us on a system of publicly funded elections, which would certainly open up the pool of candidates. Imagine if running for president was not a billion dollar endeavor?

  8. Reblogged this on WORK IN PROGRESS and commented:
    This post by Stephanie Raffelock offers a concise summary of our political and economic problems. It’s a quick read, and I recommend you read it all. I want to highlight nearly every sentence. — John

  9. A thought-provoking, stimulating post, as evidenced by the comments left by readers. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and seeing what it evoked in me!

    As for me, I know I can really go into a funk about “the sad state of affairs” if I don’t at least try to see the perfection in what is happening and know there’s a blessing in there if we are just aware enough to look for it. Of course that doesn’t mean I condone certain things, but it does help release some of the judgment of good and bad I’ve put on them. Unfortunately, it often takes things getting so big and exaggerated (and “bad”) to get our attention and pull us out of our complacency, desire to be taken care of, and inclination to play victim (believe me, I’ve done my share of all that and more). If for no other reason than my sanity’s sake, I have to see what’s happening as a part of the “breakdown before breakthrough” that is a natural part of the evolutionary process and what will (hopefully) ultimately get people fired up and more in touch with their true nature and what’s really important.

    Whatever is happening is a reflection of the group consciousness and that’s what’s great about how this planet works! The “problems” may seem insurmountable and it’s easy to think that the deck is stacked against us and that one individual can’t make a difference. But in every moment our own individual thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions are either contributing to “the problem(s),” or helping create a world worthy of us all as spiritual beings. It’s been proven that one person coming from the heart has a 5000 greater effect than those who aren’t. And it’s always a stronger position to come from a place of being for something (instead of fighting against something). So I say if anyone is wondering what they can do to facilitate change, look no further than being more aware/mindful of your own thoughts and feelings and don’t hang out with any that aren’t contributing to what’s truly important to you and the kind of world you’d like to see….a world where compassion, generosity of spirit, understanding, equality and anything else that makes your heart sing are running rampant. 

    p. s. Thanks for liking my posts! It always gives me a warm feeling when that happens and makes me think that maybe even something as simple as that has made the planet vibrate just a little higher and inch a little closer to the magnificent place it was/is intended to be. It certainly makes my world a little brighter.

      1. Absolutely! I didn’t mean to imply that we just sit back and let the world pass us by. I think when we focus on who we truly are and what kind of world we’d like to create, we are NATURALLY INSPIRED to take action in any number of ways….but it’s not a reactive/fighting against something kind of thing. Just us being drawn to follow our internal guidance system. Of course that’s just my particular point of view. 🙂

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