In my youth, the differences between the Soviet Union and the United States were made abundantly clear to us. We had the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and they didn’t. Teens at drive-thru fast food restaurants were iconic of American freedom.
The freedom to recreate our culture through music, food, mobility.
Our fathers fought despotism in World War II and Korea and told us of the communist menace, always juxtaposed with the freedoms for which they fought. We could only imagine the deprivations endured by our peers who were trapped behind the iron curtain. We’d heard of the Soviet commissars with the red stars on their sleeves, whose job it was to enforce all of the myriad dictates of the state in what was a dreary existence. The human spirit withers in the absence of authentic freedom. I thanked God for being an American.
Now after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the flowering of freedom in the former Soviet-bloc nations; we have decided that since we beat them, we should emulate their former system of government.
The America of my middle years increasingly resembles the former Soviet Union, especially as regards the all-out war on religion. More on religion in a moment.
Under our Dear Leader in the White House, we now have Soviet-style commissars who are paid agents of the state, enforcing Department of Health and Human Services food guidelines in preschool by inspecting lunchboxes from home, and seizing the offending food items, supplanting them with state-approved food and billing the family. The following story from Sara Burrows at Carolina Journal Online is chilling:
“A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.
“The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
“When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
“The girl’s mother – who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation – said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a ‘healthy lunch’ would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.”
Read the rest here.
That’s not an isolated incident. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has decided that trans fats should be outlawed, and so they were. Sales of trans fats in any food in New York is prohibited, even in Twinkies and Devil Dogs! Grannie Bloomberg has also decided that cigarettes are bad for one’s health and raised the price of a pack to $14.50 with new taxes. He has also decreed that all eating establishments, from the finest restaurants to Dunkin’ Donuts, must list the caloric content of each menu item right next to the item on the menu. Soda (pop) machines have been taken from schools, and increased punitive taxation (similar to cigarettes) was proposed for all soda (pop) in New York City. Bloomberg might have gotten away with it, but for the hordes of New Yorkers ready to tar and feather him.
At least soda is safe, for now.
Another New York Moment occurred a few years back when some City employee decided that New Yorkers seeking to escape our 8 1/4% sales tax by shopping in New Jersey (no sales tax on clothes) should have our license plates photographed at New Jersey malls by government commissars, and then some sort of fine be mailed to the offending party. No word on the career of said bureaucrat after that lead balloon crashed.
Then, in California, there was this recent gem:
“One sun-drenched August morning, armed officers wearing sunglasses and bullet-proof vests descended on a market in Venice, Calif., searching for illegally sold goods. It marked the end of a year-long investigation where undercover agents posed as customers.
Their target: raw, unpasteurized milk.
Federal regulators say it’s a dangerous and unnecessary public threat, pointing to 143 cases of contamination linked to still births, miscarriages and kidney failure since 1987, the latest involving five California children. Grassroots, back-to-nature consumers say the product strengthens the immune system by keeping intact good bacteria that’s killed in pasteurized milk. The choice should be theirs, the activists say.“These guns are being drawn on basically aging hippies, all because of illegal milk,” said Ajna Sharma-Wilson, a Los Angeles lawyer for the Venice market owner, in an interview. “This is a waste of taxpayer money.”
Get the rest here, from Bloomberg News!
Enter the HHS mandate and the Catholic Church.
There is actually no better metaphor for Obama’s brand of government in relationship to the Church than what happened to that little girl. The government seized a healthy turkey and cheese sandwich, potato chips, banana, and apple juice and handed the child a plate of chicken nuggets.
When government is permitted to legislate what we may or may not eat, tries to make it a crime to shop where we wish, demands that we be confronted with the caloric content of our food every time we eat out, the Catholic Bishops have an uphill battle on their hands. It isn’t only Obama whom they are fighting.
It is a nation that has quit on itself, a people who have grown weary of freedom and personal responsibility and who are increasingly trading freedom for the meager rations that come with enslavement. We’ve quit the game. The America of my middle years barely resembles the America of my youth. The Greatest Generation, tempered by war and the Great Depression spawned the Me Generation, softened by excess. With the Greatest Generation all but gone, the Me Generation is in charge. My grandmother used to say of the Boomers in our youth, “I’m glad I’ll be dead when they’re in charge.”
I’m beginning to understand why.
We’ve settled for the chicken nuggets.
Narcissism and hedonism breed their own enslavement, and there will never be a shortage of political opportunists who will seize on the desire for freedom without responsibility, ready to stand guard over the prison of our own making. Our clergy, silent for far too long, now fight a two-front war. On the one hand, they must resist the efforts of the government to dictate every facet of life, lest the people not have the requisite freedom to make moral decisions. On the other hand, they must somehow shake people from their narcissistic torpor and instill in them a renewed appreciation for evil and its effects.
Before the bishops can convince the enslaved of the evil of losing their freedom, they need to convince them of their beauty.
We deserve better than chicken nuggets.
When I was a seminarian, Msgr. William Smith would tell us in moral theology class that the freedom of choice would one day become a mandate. We’re seeing that now with the aggressive eugenics in maternal-fetal medicine with extreme pressure to abort being made on mothers of handicapped babies.
The freedom to use contraception will become a mandate once the government is picking up the tab. There is a hidden mandate within the HHS mandate. Our bodies, our families are increasingly becoming the property of the state.
This November we will either begin walking this abuse back, or a new iron curtain will descend.
How ironic that we, the victors of the Cold War, will have done this to ourselves.