America’s Problem: Powerless People

I have long hesitated to write this particular blog entry because it is a hard message. My conviction about it’s truthfulness, however, grows stronger every day.

I’ve noted before that one of the driving forces — maybe the strongest of those forces — is the feeling of powerlessness that grips many people in our culture. One of the fruits of powerlessness is that many people turn to bullying, putting up a tough and aggressive front to cover the feeling of impotence and insecurity. Many of ours schools in the last few years have put a great deal of effort into trying to reduce or at least counter the problem of bullying. the underlying problem, which is far too big for any school to handle, is the feeling of powerlessness that comes from living in a society in which several factors combine to form a perfect storm of intimidation of the individual.

  • Corruption, selfishness, greed — all these and many similar characteristics in our dominant institutions make it clear the the proverbial “little guy” has no control over his life. Government, political parties, big businesses, big banks, Wall Street are all institutions that we hope are guiding our nation wisely. But now we have lost our trust in them because they have failed us pretty badly.
  • Television, especially in its commercials, promises us that we can all have the good life of Much Stuff without having to make any compromises. A life or a business or a government without compromises is completely impossible. When Audi or conservative Republicans promise us they will never compromise, they are either lying or stupid or both. The result is that unrealistic hopes are raised and disappointments multiply.
  • Our entertainment emphasizes violence as a positive response to dissatisfactions. Video games, rap, movies, countless TV shows, all teach that violence is pleasant and good. The games are especially good at giving people the illusion that they are powerful and that, given the right weapons, we can force life to succumb to our power.

Now comes the tough part of this essay. I am convinced that this feeling of powerlessness drives not only school-shooters but Trump followers. those followers do not seem to care whether he speaks truth or shows any hint of wisdom, they only know that he blindly bashes everyone. And they love it. Trump is lashing out for them so that they can feel powerful again. Liking Trump is not as morally horrible as shooting classmates but it springs from similar feelings and motivations.

What an incredibly terrible thing it would be were Trump to feel in charge of the most powerful military force the world has ever seen.


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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