It was a shivery 62 degrees and the sky was the pink-gray-silver of mother-of-pearl, an open abalone shell, when the dogs and I went out walking this morning. As I watched, the flat top of Waialeale was overcome and then freed by clouds that drifted up and then back down, up and then back down, a scene that kept repeating itself as I tried to dodge sticky, ensnaring spider webs that stretched between trees, dangled from branches and utility wires, holding insects, leaves, pine needles hostage.
It was a scenario not unlike our modern economic system, with its cyclical booms and busts, its advertising campaigns designed to trap us into wanting, and acquiring, so many things we do not need. And I thought back to a snippet I heard on the radio from Mitt Romney's New Hampshire primary victory speech:
The country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We have to offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we’re lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.
It struck me that Romney, and so many others, have it all wrong. The current antagonism toward the 1% isn't rooted in envy or resentment of success as they define it — at least, not for many of us.
We don't want to be like them. We want them to be more like us.
We want them to be aware of how over-consumption, conspicuous consumption, endless consumption, strain the planet and its finite resources, lay waste to the land, can never be made sustainable, leave so many others with not enough.
We want them to see how selfishness, narcissism and greed undermine community, destroy relationships, sow injustice, feed famines, wars and strife.
We want them to understand that success has nothing to do with power, money, stuff or exclusivity, but instead is rooted in one's ability to care, to hold out a helping hand, attend to others' needs and not just one's own, appreciate the beauty and love available to all of us, free of charge, each and every day.
That's the alternative vision that is being offered not by Mitt Romney, or any candidate on the campaign trail, but those of us who recognize time is growing short, and we must quickly change our ways.