Vermont dumps almost all of its own garbage into Mount Casella, though it exports some to New Hampshire and New York. Its own consumption of goods–often including unhealthy processed foods, shipped huge distances–is culturally indistinguishable from the flow of garbage trucked out of the cities.
To appeal to personal rights seems to be an appeal to the highest value, and it is no wonder that people are feeling spiritually and socially starved. No one in earlier times would have considered his rights apart from his duties and responsibilities, or her privileges apart from her obligations.
This is the spirituality of a man post-tragedy, post-heroin, post-forty-days-in-the-wilderness. Not the self-pleased, spick-and-span, airbrushed piety we’ve come to expect from presidential candidates these days but practical spirituality.
What is more radical, and more conservative, than to cast the ring into the fire? That would be a real “regime change,” would it not?
Debates over the fate of the nation-state are largely driven by the fundamental problem of how we respond to guilt in a post-Christian age. Our politics will thus reflect the growing division between those who still believe the Christian message about forgiveness and those who will deal with guilt either by scapegoating or by denial.