Tuesday, January 22, 2008

America's House

    America’s house is occupied by the renters from hell. Saying and doing anything to avoid being evicted; they slap on a coat of cheap paint, throw down some grass seed, rearrange the furniture, and swear they’ve made repairs. The front yard is choked with weeds; each one vying to make it’s influence felt, controlling its territory and taking precious resources from the trees, grass and flowers. Piles of waste are strewn about the back yard making it unsafe to play in. The house is infested with termites. Boring throughout the structure, they work steadily to weaken the essential framework. Left unchecked, it is only a matter of time before it collapses.
    Pit bulls roam freely about America’s house and yard. They are there for protection—from threats without and within. They answer only to the man of the house. The family lives in fear. Some try to befriend the pit bulls but they remain suspicious; always loyal to the man of the house. Within the house the shades are pulled, the curtains drawn, and the windows fogged. The fence around the house is high. Few know what goes on inside America’s house. The family inside says little and mostly just what they are told to say.
    The man of the house is a strict father. The man of the house claims to be moral and compassionate. He drives to the church next door every Sunday. Once there he shoulders his neighbors out of the way when they are in his path. He sits in the front pew and denounces behavior such as his own. Few realize how much his definition of morality and compassion differ so greatly from theirs. He is feared, not respected. He has few friends because he can only tolerate those who agree with him. He is quick to strike out at anyone who speaks ill of him. The gossips, currying favor, sing only his praises.
    The man of the house is happy to water the weeds in his front yard. He is unconcerned with the barren trees and sparse grass. Weeds are tough, hardy and able to spread on their own. On occasion he will have a flower planted as a pretense for brightening the blight. But it, too, is left to its own defenses; left to wither in the dry soil and hot sun. He thinks anything that must be cared for is wasteful and not deserving. He is not bothered by the stench in the back yard nor that few want to go there. And he has no qualms about adding to the waste.
    The man of the house is happy to leave the termites secretly to their work. He is unhappy with the house. It was not built with the design he thinks is correct. He looks forward to the inevitable collapse in which he will not only appear blameless, but heroic to the task of building a new house. He works diligently on his plans and ideas for America’s new house. A house he hopes to build soon—before anyone learns what’s really going on in America’s house.

A metaphor for our times I wrote 2-1/2 years ago. Several people have read it and given me their ideas of who the metaphors represent with surprising results.

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