Not even reaping what we sow

There’s an old metaphor often used as a pejorative against someone, that they shall “reap what they sow.” In other words, that if they act in a way that is not in accordance with traditional notions of morality, the outcome will be bad and they shall suffer the consequences. It is sort of a Biblical version of Karma.

I’m becoming more alert to signs of economic despair. I’m seeing the boarded up storefronts, the vacant buildings, the unharvested trees that we might just drive past without noticing. I don’t see the unemployed (except for myself); we are shamed into invisibility. And I think of the relentless corporate “downsizing,” the export of skilled and unskilled jobs again and again to cheaper places, utterly without regard to what should happen to those left behind.

The rich, we are to understand, reap what they sow. They harvest ever larger profits, ever larger bonuses, ever greater tax breaks. Meanwhile, the country invests in education, making a primary and secondary education compulsory. It encourages students to continue on with a post-secondary education, with community colleges, training programs, financial aid, and public universities; and it discourages them as well, with increasing student loan burdens and higher costs. And students invest their time, energy, and money for a promise that should benefit not only themselves, but society as a whole.

I’ve been noticing these apple trees for a while now; we have resources in this country we do not use. Someone planted these trees but has not harvested the fruit. Instead, they allow their rewards to rot on the ground.

As a society, we persist in rewarding the rich. Am I wrong to notice the toll of humans left to waste?

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