God Bless America
Posted October 20, 2003
I'm writing this as the polls close in the California recall election. Government will pass from the hands of one hapless and inept politician into the hands of a self-admiring actor who has essentially no knowledge of government. Basically, out of the frying pan, into the fire -- a disaster for the State of California.
A friend in California half-jokingly asks, "First the present crew of clowns in the White House, and now this -- right here in California! How can Krsna let this happen?"
Whenever a major disaster like this happens, there is always some Prabhupada quote which pops up in a person's mind. In this case, I can't stop thinking of Prabhupada's comment from the First Canto, "As soon as the administrative class is turned into a gang of mercantile and laborer men, the whole machinery of government becomes polluted." (Bhag. 1.9.26) It's such a startlingly apt summary of the present state of affairs that it's poetic.
Mercantile men in the White House and an actor from the laboring class in the Sacramento state house, and yes, the whole machinery of the government is indeed polluted. As the American president goes through the motions of trying to discern which one of a dozen "high level White House officials" committed treason by revealing the name of an American undercover agent, it's a foregone conclusion that he'll never figure it out. Why? It's due to the ever-increasing level of pollution in the government, which clouds every issue.
Again, the question arises: How can Krsna let this happen? Whose fault is this?
I'd like to make the case that the so-called "blame" can be at least partially laid at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada. To begin with, who can forget Prabhupada's emotional words in London in September 1977:
America has been so good to me to give me money, men, everything. I have no designation that 'this is my country,' but because they have given me so much facility, I cannot forget my obligation to them. I want to make them happy, and through them, the whole world.
Certainly those words of Srila Prabhupada's were bound to inspire Krsna's blessings on America. Then again, a couple decades later, in September of 2001, after a terrorist attack, America actually won worldwide sympathy. In America and countries all around the world, people were praying, "God bless America." In this way, many personalities both great and small have been praying for the Krsna's blessings for America.
What could be the result? Could it be that Krsna will answer everyone's prayers? And what would that look like? Krsna's blessings for America might look a little bit different from what most people had in mind. Consider this quote from the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
If I especially favor someone, I gradually deprive him of his wealth. Then the relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man abandon him. In this way he suffers one distress after another. (Bhag. 11.88.8)
As long as the neophyte devotee is situated in opulent circumstances, there are simply too many distractions for him to turn his attention fully to Krsna. Therefore, the Lord mercifully removes all these impediments to spiritual progress and allows the devotee to become fully dependent on Krsna. That is Krsna's special blessing.
But how could such a blessing be delivered to a whole country? One of the easiest ways to quickly reduce the level of wealth in a country is simply to install selfish and incompetent men and women at the head of government. Certainly, in the case of the US, the current government has lost so many billions of dollars in such a short amount of time that it does seem miraculous when you think of it. Some economists believe the US may be making a fundamental long-term shift away from its former prosperity.
But then what? Just because someone awards you an $80,000 scholarship, it does not mean that you will become a great student. It simply means that you have the opportunity to become a great student. Similarly, when people receive a blessing from the Lord, it does not necessarily mean they will automatically make spiritual progress. Rather, it may simply mean that they have the opportunity to make spiritual progress.
The possibility exists that, in spite of receiving a great blessing, people will not make spiritual progress. What is needed is to utilize that blessing in a way that will promote spiritual progress. Srila Prabhupada had a plan for how to do that, too:
Lord Vamanadeva, as an ideal brahmacari, refuses Bali Maharaja's offer to give Him anything He might want. He says that without contentment one could not be happy even if he possessed the property of the entire world or the entire universe. In human society, therefore, the brahminical culture, ksatriya culture and vaisya culture must be maintained, and people must be taught how to be satisfied with only what they need.
In modern civilization there is no such education; everyone tries to possess more and more, and everyone is dissatisfied and unhappy. The Krsna consciousness movement is therefore establishing various farms, especially in America, to show how to be happy and content with minimum necessities of life and to save time for self-realization, which one can very easily achieve by chanting the maha-mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. (Bhag. 8.19.21 purport)
So, by Srila Prabhupada's grace, God Bless America -- everyone else,
too. And let us pray for the strength to accept His blessings -- in whatever
form He sees best to distribute them -- and wisdom to use them in the most
spiritually productive way.