The Rise of Resentment

 

Ressentiment is the French translation of the English word resentment. In philosophy and psychology it is a concept that was of particular interest to the existentialist philosophers. According to the existentialists, ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one’s frustration. The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration. This value system is then used as a means of justifying one’s own weaknesses by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior, serving as a defense mechanism that prevents the resentful individual from addressing and overcoming their insecurities and flaws. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability. – Wikipedia

 

The resentment worldview has a perverted self-interest value system:

The resentment worldview has a perverted accounting system:

“Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.” – Milton Friedman

 

We are told by Jesus to “love your neighbors as yourself”. To do this we must consider our own self-interest and then apply the same measure of self-interest toward our neighbors. This parity of accounting is not unlike the Lord’s accounting of forgiveness: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses.” As mentioned above, the resentment worldview has a perverted accounting system: the self is to be credited and others must be debited for there to be parity in their world. If the word “fairness” is ever to be applied socially and economically to our culture then these two commands of our Lord define its limited and personal application.

Apart from the resentment worldview of “fellow travelers” and socialist sympathizers, I believe that many of us know that self-interest is not selfishness. We take care of our bodies. We wash and feed and exercise them. We think and dwell on good things and not on twaddle. We work and seek to pay our bills on time. We take our responsibilities to our family and to those around us seriously. In all of our transactions, social and economic, we strive to maintain a good name.

Going beyond a universal self-interest, a Jesus follower’s self-interest takes into her accounting what appears to be the opposite of self-interest – losses (see Mark 9: 43-47) or dying to self. Her losses (and subsequent gains) go right to the bottom line of her P & L statement: “What shall it profit a woman if she gains the whole world and loses her own soul?” The bottom line is what she gives out of in parity and fairness to her neighbor.

Scripture gives us God’s world view. And, early in Scripture, we read of contrasting worldviews: the worldview of resentment and its perverse self-fulfillment accounting and the worldview of God and His “on earth as it is in heaven” accounting.

In the familiar Genesis narrative (Genesis 37) of Joseph and his brothers, the brothers took account of how they thought they were treated and compared that to how they thought Joseph was treated. From their recorded behavior we find out that jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration.

Joseph became the source of their envy. Born in Jacob’s old age, Joseph had the gift of his father’s love. Joseph also had the gift of dreams – presumptuous dreams the brothers thought (Gen 37:8). And Joseph was given an ornate robe from his father Jacob. They also considered Joseph a tattle tale (Gen 37:2).

Resentment rose in the brother’s hearts. Heated arguments followed and then boiled over. Joseph became the stated enemy of their egos. The brothers acted on their resentment. Joseph was sold into slavery after almost being done away with under a Democratic death sentence (Gen 37:18).

Years later in Egypt, when tables are turned, Joseph did not hold resentment in his heart. He did not reciprocate (Gen. 45). He dealt with his brothers, not by returning upon their heads the evil done to him, but with God’s accounting worldview: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’

 

Resentment worldview onlookers that day would have testified that something bad happened years ago and now someone had to pay. And that brings us to today.

The Human Condition: A Root of Bitterness is Fuel to Burn

 

Two campaigns. Two distinct political parties. And two very similar underlying class warfare tropes being megaphoned in order to incite discontent, anger and anarchy in the heart of the voter.

Both campaigns are stoking the political fire of self-interest with the dried roots of bitterness.

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“A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much while so many have so little…We need a tax system which asks the billionaire class to pay its fair share of taxes and which reduces the obscene degree of wealth inequality in America” –Bernie Sanders

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“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?

Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” –Donald Trump, encouraging violence at his rallies, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2016

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Bernie Sanders wants the vote of the young and old dependents because life isn’t fair. There is a disparity of wealth in the world and Bernie’s wants to be your Fixer. Each generation’s Bernie knows better than anyone in history how to make envy work for you. Now, it’s OK to be envious when everyone gets on board. So, let’s call it “Democratic Socialism”.

And why Democratic Socialism: “You are human.” Well, yeah, I exist. But more than that, my better nature knows that envy is part of my baser nature.

2016:  The subhuman demands for all kinds of “more” by the soon-to-be jack booting vox populi is a paean to the “wonders” of collectivism. This populist tripe runs parallel with Trump’s hogwash.

 

The codependent “settled science” supporters of Trump, also young and old dependents of another’s largesse are hearing that a vote for Trump will leverage their dignity, influence and economic standing.  Apparently his supporters had allowed all three to be debased before Trump came along. Excuses are in vogue.

Listening to Trump, one would hear Trump boast that he is a “Fixer”, a negotiator, a wheeler-dealer bar none.  Free Trade, influence, Mexico…life in America hasn’t been fair and Trump is your man to make “America Great Again”, to level the playing field.

Trump’s teaser:  “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” –Donald Trump

 

 

Whether it is Bernie’s entreaty to a collective of common purpose with his take on “A Future to Believe in” or Trump’s Nationalistic common purpose appeal to “Make America Great Again” both slogans share a common theme:  “Vote for me and together we will make great gains against unfairness. The monopoly of our common purpose – “Fairness” – can be ours.”

Both camps ply the same Marxian argument: “You are not to blame. You have worked hard, you played by the rules and yet others are gaining more than you. Someone or something is to blame – “The Establishment”; “The Rigged System”; “Capitalism”; “Wall St.”, “China.” “Trade”; “The little people.”

 

For our benefit, ancient history recorded such fair-share covetousness, now called “fairness” by Bernie fans and “leveling the playing field” by Trump.

 

Scenario one:  Joseph and the gift of a coat.  This story is common knowledge so I won’t repeat the whole story here.

Joseph had many older brothers who tended their father’s flock.  They played by the rules.

Joseph was gifted a beautiful garment by his father, out of the father’s love for Joseph. Now, pop psychology would decry such a gift as being unfair to the older brothers.  But, in a Christian worldview, the older brothers should have rejoiced with Joseph.

Instead, out of growing envy, bitterness and anger, the brothers sent Joseph away into slavery, unbeknownst to a grief-stricken father.  They wanted things to be fair by leveling the playing field – Joseph out of the picture, more for them. They wanted to assuage their anger by removing the reason for their anger.

 

Scenario two:  the prodigal son parable. Told by Jesus.  Again, a well know parable.

The prodigal son demanded all of his inheritance up front. Perhaps he had home schooling tuition bills to pay and some wild oats to sow.  Later, coming to his senses after feeling his empty pockets he returned home to his father.

His father was ecstatic about his son’s return. His brother, not so much.  His brother saw what transpired – a willfully impoverished son is gifted a second chance by his father.  No fair!

The play-by-the-rules brother becomes disconsolate, pouty and sorely envious of such treatment.  The brother had tended to his father’s business and didn’t fall out of line. No fair! Expectations had been high all along.  But now a root of bitterness also began to grow deep inside.

The brother wanted the playing field leveled.  The daggers in his eyes told the story.  He wanted to stick it to his prodigal bother and be rewarded by his father for playing by the rules.

“I want somebody to make things fair!!! Use force. Use whatever to make things fair!!!”

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Democratic Tyranny is something that you can vote for this election season. But not the next one. Your choices will be taken away.

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“Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures.” — Theodore Roosevelt

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Green with Egalitarianism

After addressing an envelope this morning, I pulled a recently purchased book of postage stamps out of my wallet.  The first thing I noticed was the words “Equality Forever” on the stamp I used.  The stamp booklet included a series of U.S. postage stamps:  “Liberty Forever,” “Freedom Forever,” Justice Forever,” and “Equality Forever.”

 four flagsU.S. Four Flags (Forever) Stamps:

 “The U.S. flag flies high with stars and stripes! Each stamp represents an important theme in America’s development as a nation: Freedom, Liberty, Equality, and Justice.”

 Be aware.  The word “Equality” is taking on a new meaning, a meaning proscribed by Obama and the Progressive Left. Equality is now to be understood as “equal outcomes” and not simply as “all men are created equal.” 

 Since the foundations of this country were laid with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution we have agreed as a nation that “All men are created equal.” This includes and is limited to the God given natural rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” afforded to men and women of every race. Beyond that there are no guarantees in life.  Life is not fair.

 Now when you consider egalitarianism or equal outcomes as “equality” as Progressives do you must by necessity look at what your neighbor has to see if your social-economic status is equal or unequal to that of your neighbor.  You will by necessity be looking to see if you are keeping up with the Joneses.  You will by necessity be looking to see if grass is greener beyond your own yard. Right? We do this right now without the prompting of government.

 But with Obama and the Progressive Left’s ever increasing demands for “fair share” redistribution you are provoked to look with dissatisfaction, with greed and envy, upon your neighbor.  You are not encouraged to view your personal situation with contentment.  Instead, you are encouraged to look upon your neighbor as a certain class of people above or below you.  Obama is in effect telling you to be discontent and to seek “equality” or “equal outcomes” through redistribution of incomes. That is the spiel of Obama and the Progressive Left. 

 If the spiel is accepted and acted on it will affect every aspect of your life. Consider this scenario:

 Two men work as drafters in an engineering company.  They were both hired at the same time.  Drafter Number One comes to work early, does his work as drafter and back checks his work to ensure its quality. 

 Drafter number Two comes to work a few minutes before 8:00.  He does the work required of him and some of his work requires redrafting.  He spends a lot of time talking to his cube mates and on the internet.  He also goes outside to have a ten minute smoke break every half hour.

 Would it be fair to pay these men the same wage?  Egalitarian wages ignore work ethics ~  empirical reality ~ in favor of being…equal.  But would paying both men the same exact wages be fair?

 I’ll give another example of the folly of equal outcomes from one of my most visited posts:  Where Do You Start?

 And from the Thomas Sowell Reader, his article Meaningless “Equality”: 

 “Anyone who questions or opposes equality is almost certain to be regarded as someone who believes in inequality ~ in “inferiority” and “superiority.”  But all of these concepts suffer from the same problem:  For equality, inferiority, or superiority to have any meaning, what is being compared must first be commensurable.  A symphony is not equal to an automobile.  Nor is it inferior or superior. They are simply not commensurable…

With many groups as well, the fundamental difference between equal treatment and equal performance is repeatedly confused.  In performance terms, virtually no one is equal to anyone.  The same individual is not equal to himself on different days.”

For more information about the foolishness of the current use of the word “equality” read Thomas Sowell’s The Quest for Cosmic Justice.

 Should government be the arbiter of what is fair?  Does government share your values? As we speak Obama is seeking to redistribute monies ~ “spreading the wealth” ~ from the suburbs to the cities to effect egalitarianism.

 You work hard to have a suburban home where your kids can go to school.  The suburbs provide space for your family to grow.  You feel safer out in the suburbs.  Your tax money pays for the fire and police, for parks and clean streets and many other benefits.  Many black Americans move to the suburbs to be free of the city and its onerous taxes and its crime.  Obama is right now taking your tax money and redistributing it to the cities. In other words some of your tax money is not being spent on your home district but it is given to someone else. Is this fair?

 The reality of recent redistribution is much grimmer.  The truth is that the money taken from you the taxpayer under the guise of “fair share” egalitarian purposes is given to special interest groups that support a certain political party – cronyism.

 And in the recent fiscal cliff deal who are the big winners?  Not you the taxpayer.

Who are getting tax breaks? 

 Among others rum distillers, Hollywood film producers and NASCAR!  Is this egalitarian?

 Finally, should we be looking at our neighbor’s property and demanding that we have the same things, the same wages, and the same health care, the same…? What does Jesus want us to do instead of being green with egalitarianism?

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

And from the writer of the letter to the Hebrews:

 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

 And from the apostle Paul:

 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  I Timothy 6: 6-8

Is Jesus being dismissive of our needs? Or, is He realigning our view of our worldly needs in accordance with True values found only in a personal relationship with him.  Right now Obama’s Progressive message is directly opposed to God’s message of contentment.  Right now Obama wants you to have a personal relationship with government. He wants government to be the theocratic Benefactor much like how most of Europe has chosen government over God.  Does the godlessness and socialism of Europe make you green with envy?  Green with egalitarianism?  I wonder?  If so, you are at odds with the God Who is Just and will give to every man as he deserves.

WYSINATI:  What you see is NOT all there is.

Our Father in Heaven “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Joseph and the One Percent

You should know that jealousy and envy disguised as “fairness” and “equality” play important roles in a liberal’s political drama.

 Remember the Bible story of Joseph and the coat.  Joseph’s eleven brothers, assuming that Joseph was their father’s favorite son, became extremely jealous when Joseph received a beautiful coat as a gift from his father.  So jealous were they in fact that they plotted to kill Joseph.  But after much hand wringing and intervention by the oldest brother they sold Joseph into slavery.  This was deemed a more humane solution.

 The brothers in order to deflect their guilt gave their father a bloodied garment as proof of their ‘sincere’ lie that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.  The brothers then considered their “problem” to be out of sight and out of mind.  What mattered most to them was to maintain status quo – everybody was to remain equal.

 From a mature point of view the brothers should not have been jealous. Joseph’s father Jacob had every right to give the coat to whomever he wanted.  But the brothers grumbled and cried foul amongst themselves as do liberals today whenever there is a perceived breach of societal equity.

 Today’s popular psychology helps feed the popular jealousy by reverse thinking.  Instead of providing a positive unselfish viewpoint Freudian based psychology points the finger back at dad the authority figure:  “you feel that you didn’t get your fair share of love from your father.” “Your father treated your brother with more love and affection. “Your father should have given you more.  He should have been fair with you so let’s help you figure out how to get your fair share.” This nonsense is played out day after day in the liberal media and by president Obama with “fair share” rhetoric. 

 These liberal folks will tell you as they have been counseled that life has not given you your fair share so you must demand fairness: “Look at your life.  Do you have what he has?  No?” “Then demand it.” “Demand your right to healthcare. Demand your right to force the 1% to pay higher taxes. Demand your right to live off another person’s property.” This type of debilitating psychology streams from media outlets day and night promoting jealousy, envy and unrest in the people who hear it.

 Co-opted, high-sounding and sanctimonious words hide the real motivation behind the left’s policies:  jealousy and envy hiding in the wings waiting for the chance to ‘correct’ the unfairness.

 Consider this assessment of the Left’s use of innocuous language to achieve their ‘righteous’ ends. Here is Thomas Sowell, economist :

 “The left has a whole vocabulary devoted to depicting people who do not meet the standards as people who have been denied “access.” Whether it is academic standards, job qualifications or credit requirements, those who do not measure up are said to have been deprived of “opportunity,” “rights” or “social justice.”

 The word games of the left – from the mantra of “diversity” to the pieties of “compassion” – are not just games.  They are ways of imposing power by evading issues of substance through the use of seductive rhetoric.

 “Rights,” for example have become an all purpose term used for evading both facts and logic by saying that people have a “right” to whatever the left wants to give them by taking from others.

 For centuries, rights were exemptions from government power, as in the Bill of Rights.  Now the left has redefined rights as things that can demanded from the taxpayers, or from private employers or others, on behalf of people who accept no mutual obligations, even for common decency.”

 Joseph was one of twelve brothers.  He was 1/12th or 8.333 % of the whole.  8.333% had something the 91.667 % didn’t have.  Rounding off, the 92% were envious of the 8% so the 92% decided to bring the 8% down to zero, thus making things fair in their eyes. Removing Joseph from the picture also meant that their inheritance was now larger, divided only eleven ways instead of twelve.  Because of envy and jealousy the 92% proceeded to sell the 8% into slavery and bondage, though murder was considered.  Think about that before you vote for Obama and the Democrats. Think about that when you hear them demanding that the 1% should dish out their shovel ready wealth for your benefit.

 Being your brother’s keeper is so much more than keeping him around and keeping him in his place by only giving him his “fair share.”  It is dealing justly with him by giving him what is due him.  So if a man has been given a gift or has a talent bless him and do not curse him.  If a man receives more than you be thankful to God for what you do have and for his gain. But,  if you by jealousy and envy, in order to make yourself feel better about yourself, your situation and the world at large, confiscate another man’s property,  if you subjugate his person and sell him into slavery or if, when envy has matured into its final state you seek to murder the man better off than you then know that his blood will cry out for justice. Know that God will avenge those treated unjustly.