Sacred Commerce and the Twelve Virtues of the Merchant Priest
In November 2017, I posted a book review of Sacred Commerce, followed by a post on the Twelve Virtues of the Merchant Priest, honor, loyalty, nobility, virtue, grace, trust, courage, courtesy, gallantry, authority, service, and humility — traits that “automatically lift us to a higher octave of being.” I was going to do a post each month on the twelve virtues culminating at the end of 2018, but as it does, life got in the way, plus I got hung up a few times trying to find examples for what constituted selfless behavior in a society of me-first individuals. I’m down to the last two — service and humility. And I really can’t think of a better example of service than of our current President, Joe Biden.
Here is Service:
I’ve been a public servant for over 30 years so I know what it is to walk the tightrope of restrictions — Hatch Act; public scrutiny; gift giving; and more — all things most public servants take seriously. But nowhere is that job of public servant more difficult than as president of the United States where being the top executive is like walking the tightrope between the Twin Towers every day. Despite the Herculean effort it takes, President Biden has managed to do it and hold the country together in the process despite the great tug of war between the right and left.
After a single year in office, Biden has dealt with the coronavirus, the January 6th insurrection fallout; removal from Afghanistan; climate change resulting in huge storms and rogue tornadoes; the assault on voting rights; inflation; and a news media that throws shade for sport — and it’s not just Fox News although they are arguably the worst. Could his job be any harder? Despite issues that are magnitudes beyond the normal, Biden has taken them all on with a quiet determination in service to his country no matter what the media says.
He has outperformed the last four decades of American growth with an “unbeatable” economic performance.
Under Biden, unemployment is down, wages are growing, companies’ profit margins are up, and congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to repair our roads, bridges, water systems, and more. So why the shade? Are Americans just jaded and contrary?
There’s a legal maxim that possession is 9/10s of the law meaning that ownership is easier to maintain if you have possession of it. As President, Mr. Biden has ownership of the country’s ills, whether his fault or not, because people’s basic nature is to blame, and generally, blame falls to the person in charge. The fact that Biden can’t control the supply chain, for example, doesn’t matter: as President, it’s his job to fix it. It’s a little Pollyannaish to think this way, but it comes with the territory in a blame society, and Biden has accepted it without even flinching. Meanwhile, he has delivered the best economy since the Regan era with a growing GDP, along with the lowest unemployment, down from about 6% to 4% since taking office with the creation over 4 million jobs.
Yet haters gotta hate so they say nothing about these successes.
And do you know why? Because reality is 9/10s of perception and many people are living in an alternate reality controlled by the media. At least some of the media (hi Fox!) is only out to serve the media — not America, despite all it’s flag -waiving BS — and its own ratings because that translates to money in the pocket. Not truth, not fair and balanced reporting, not trying to save our democracy — these are all secondary to cold hard cash, so even when the news is not so bad the media spins it so it sounds bad. Why? Because bad sells.
Look, none of us gets to choose the suite of problems that come across our desks and the president of the United States knows this better than most. But wouldn’t it be nice if we Americans stopped complaining for ten minutes about all the things going wrong and instead, focused on the things going right? Maybe say “thank you” instead of “what have you done for me lately?” With a little gratitude, maybe we can all be friends again despite our political affiliations rather than watch the maelstrom of misery brought on by our insane culture of individualism. I’m all for individualism, but not at the expense of every other thing we’ve worked to build. Sometimes you have to take one for the team, and yes, that might mean wearing a mask on an airplane.
There is a Native American proverb that says: “no tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.” We are all of the same tree so unless we want to start hacking off limbs to the detriment of all we need to figure out how to talk to each other civilly with an eye toward a common goal of a robust democracy rather than the hollow and singular ruling by a designated few. There is no way that only some of us win here. Either we all win or we all lose. Those are the only two choices despite what Fox News wants you to believe.
How can you be of service to your country? Start by doing something in service to someone else, maybe a hello to someone to whom you wouldn’t usually give the time of day. Follow it up with a smile, a nod, a thank you, perhaps, and see what happens next. The magic is in the moment and the moment is slipping away. Grab it before it does.
pam lazos 1.30.22