What you reap is what you sow. Em B7 C —
Don’t you ask me how I know. G C7 B7 —
What you sow is what you reap: Em B7 C A7
Sow a hurricane, you get no sleep. C7 B7 — Em B7 Em B7
Greedy men, greedy men rule this land, Em B7 C —
Building castles in the sand, G C7 B7 —
Building temple to the GDP, Em G7 C A7
Throwing babies to the rising sea. C7 B7 — Em B7 Em D
Moving on, everybody’s moving on, G D C
And you can’t take it with you when you’re gone; G C D B7
Take no silver, take no gold, Em G7 C A7
Just the love in your heart, all that you can hold. C7 B7— EmB7EmB7
What you reap is what you sow.
Don’t you ask me how I know.
What you sow is what you reap:
Sow a hurricane, you get no sleep.
lyrics & music © Doug Hendren 2015
What’s it about? Cause and effect. The Biblical tradition advises that “as a man sows, so shall he reap”. Buddhism calls it “karma” – sooner or later, what goes around comes around.
What applies to men applies equally to nations. And this polarized nation, heir to high ideals, has long cultivated trouble. Clinging fiercely to simplistic versions of liberty, we have long abandoned “the wise restraints that make us free”. Having “deregulated” any pretense of fairness in banking, trade, taxation or political campaign funding in recent decades, the United States has become a playground for “predatory capitalism”, where unprecedented concentrations of wealth and poverty exist side by side. The middle class has vanished. Elections go to the highest bidder, and even the Supreme Court serves the interests of money. Technically, the United States is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy.
Exactly one year before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of his most powerful speeches, [“Beyond Vietnam”, at Riverside Church in New York City], denouncing the “Triple Evils” of Militarism, Racism and Economic Exploitation. Half a century later, all three still haunt us – with one big difference: The economic exploitation, “predatory capitalism” once aimed at developing countries, has come home to roost: Our citizens, our schools and homes, our mountains and rivers, our democratic institutions themselves are being sacrificed daily to the demands of global capital. Municipalities go into bankruptcy, while the ultra-rich evade fair taxation and park wealth that ancient kings never dreamed of in illegal offshore locations. The love of money has undermined the foundations of American liberty.
Weaponsmakers to the world, we reap both warfare and a high homicide rate at home: In 2015 we saw more than 365 mass shootings in the United States, more than one per day. Invested heavily in technologies of war, we struggle to address education, poverty. homelessness or health care.
Looming behind each part of the “Evil Triad” is the climate crisis. Climate chaos, flooding and drought, and loss of dependable food is highly destabilizing, beginning with developing countries. Unprecedented regional drought has been a major driver of mass migration and conflict in Syria, and this is only the beginning. We will never address the Evil Triad without addressing climate change. Conversely, robust action on climate will pay great rewards in supporting peace, preserving access to food and water and minimizing conflict over resources.
In medicine, proper treatment requires a correct diagnosis. The first step is recognizing where we are, and how we got here. When we find ourselves sitting in a patch of nettles, we do well to consider who planted them!
Video: Predatory Capitalism Explained in 2 Minutes, narrated by John Perkins