Saturday, July 25, 2020

Election 2020 - A Definitive Choice

American voters will be making a definitive choice in the Presidential election of 2020. This choice is a stark one between the current President, Donald Trump and the Democratic Party putative nominee for the Presidency, Joe Biden.

During the four years of his presidency, Donald Trump has shown himself to be largely incompetent to fulfill the complex and challenging responsibilities of that office. This has been exemplified many times during his administration. The most crucial and devastating proof of his essential inability to formulate reasoned and astute policy in the face of a national crisis is currently unfolding – that of course being his irrational and erratic response to the nationwide and global devastation brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. His inability to comprehend the scope and complexity of this raging viral infection has been breathtakingly apparent and his refusal to formulate policy based upon the expert input of the scientists and epidemiologists who alone can find real and effective solutions to this crisis are striking and the resulting failure painfully devastating.

But even more troubling than this level of extreme incompetence is the unavoidable fact that he has a deranged mind, a wild and uncontrolled disdain for the truth and most importantly a deep-seated belief in white supremacy in an extremely pluralistic society and a determined and abiding inclination to the unabashed use of power and authoritarian rule. He has repeatedly used the office of the Presidency to enflame and exacerbate deep divisions that have long been festering within the American psyche. This has done great damage to American political life and stalled and stymied efforts that have been made in the past to address and correct serious social, cultural, and economic inequities that lie at the heart of many of the nation’s nagging problems.

With this in mind, if the voters at the poles in November choose this individual to continue as President, they will effectively be choosing a clearly autocratic government – an authoritarian regime. They would have declared themselves in agreement with a government that denies the legitimacy of the role of science and truth in public affairs; that consigns the agencies created for the public good such as the CDC and EPA to be agents of the powerful, that does not believe in the equality of all people and cares little for the health, safety and prosperity of its citizens. They would have ceded power to a government that seeks to control the nation’s destiny using the tactics of fear, lies, intimidation and ultimately employing violent means to establish its ascendency.

If the voters in November choose to go down this path, they will have effectively decided to abandon the essential aspects of a true Democratic Republic. Such a choice will have profound repercussions for the future and future generations. For, authoritarian rule will necessarily lead to utter and abysmal failure. The semblance of order and apparent security it promises is patently false; for it is not based on sound and moral principles and will ultimately fall from its own onerous weight as has been proven many times in the history of human civilizations.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Coming to Grips with the Global Consequences of Human Behavior

Homo sapiens has made it so far. After over ten thousand years of civilization, the members of the species now number close to eight billion planetwide. However, the human world is terribly fractured, and the idea of a globally unified people has unfortunately not gained sufficient traction to become a reality. Instead, the existence of a multitude of sovereignties with differing and competing ethnic, cultural, and political ideologies has persisted in spite of the horrific ramifications of this kind of social organization. As a consequence, horrendous and calamitous wars of extreme aggression and destructive outcomes has persisted up until the present time.

It seems that humanity may be entering a time of great leveling- when the frailties associated with the innate structure and organization of the human brain is in collision with the cumulative impact of overpopulation and a technical revolution that has seriously compromised the natural environment. The prospects of this convergence are beginning to exert an impact. This new reality is exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and the ever-worsening prospects in regard to calamitous changes in the global climate.

In a human world so divided and fractious, it is difficult to envision the drastic and revolutionary changes in behavior required to forestall such a future. Nonetheless, my hope resides in the coming generations of humans to more fully recognize and address the worst possible outcomes of the cumulative impact of human activity. It will be their task to discover well-reasoned ways to address and resolve them.

I must, therefore, make my peace with the current status quo of the human experience in the 21st century. I believe that there is an intrinsic reality and significance to human existence that does not depend upon the artificial cultural, ideological, political, and economic constructs imposed upon human consciousness by the exigencies of the moment. In my mind that reality lies within the wondrous nature of perception and self-awareness of our individual existence within the natural world as it relates to self and other, our planetary home and the cosmos. Furthermore, the ability to examine our individual and collective situation within the human world and draw the appropriate conclusions ever mindful of our true relationship with the forces that shape our existence is an extraordinary aspect of our humanity.

I can help to encourage a mode of action that I believe will ultimately enhance and preserve this unique quality of the human experience, but, realistically, I cannot determine the future outcome for the humankind - that undoubtedly is a product of collective endeavor.

When I reach the end of my journey and my individual existence ceases, my individual self, the natural world, the future of humanity, the cosmos and everything else comes to an end as it will be for all of us, and all the humans who have ever lived on this amazing spaceship earth.

The future of humanity awaits, and it is usually bounded and determined by the cumulative impact of the choices that are made in the present. How it all plays out beyond my allotted time is for my descendants to experience within the vast and open terrain that necessarily unfolds within the inescapable passing of time.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Notes on the Coronavirus Pandemic 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) had its beginnings In China (Wuhan) where the virus apparently crossed a species barrier from a bat and infected an unsuspecting human. It was thus, carried to a novel host – having no immunity – and spread like a wildfire or a like a tsunami through an unprotected population.

As a result, tens of thousands died while many were infected without apparent symptoms and spread the cold like virus widely. In this way, the virus carried by its unsuspecting human vectors spread worldwide. The unsettling aspect of this infection is that it can produce horrendous health complications for the more vulnerable members of the population.

This tiny particle is dormant outside of living things yet can almost magically come to life when within a living cell. This microscopic life form brought down the global economy with amazing efficiency yet with no malice for it was only adhering to the biological laws of its nature within a universe of earthly beings that have evolved on this planet for billions of years. From this perspective, there is no winners or losers only the continuity of passing time through the interdependent matrix of the living.

Homo sapiens holds no special place within the irrepressible sea of the living, subject like all others to the vicissitudes and vagaries of life. No individual is sacrosanct or exempted from the handicap that death imposes. No guarantees are provided at birth in regard to the manner in which life will unfold or its duration; there is no contractual assignment of responsibility or outcome.

This tiny and seemingly insignificant form of life too small to visualize without the tools provided by science and technology, is yet endowed with a remarkable genetically-determined engineering that can allow it to spread through an incredibly large population of humans regardless of how mighty their empires consider themselves to be.

The speed with which national sovereignties unraveled their delicate economic infrastructure in an attempt to thwart the advance of this virus was remarkable to behold.

In regard to the particular fate of the United States, the purported wealthiest nation on earth, this pandemic exposed the social and economic inequalities and the moral failures that had eroded the principles upon which the nation was conceived some 244 years ago.

The virus is of course not to blame for this descent; it is rather the natural consequences of the well-orchestrated ascendancy to the primacy of wealth and profit at the expense of the common good. It has therefore, become incumbent upon the next generation - who will soon be stewards of the future destiny of humanity - to incorporate some sanity into the troubled world of humans. It will become, after all, their world in which the very future of the species remains in jeopardy

The environment has been decimated for decades and relentlessly assaulted. The deleterious change in climate that is a direct consequence of this callous indifference will only worsen. Systemic inequality and racial injustice permeate many cultures and societies throughout the world. As a result, much dedicated and thoughtful work is needed to address these issues.

In regards to the specific example of the United States, is it sane and sensible to have a social cultural and economic environment within such a wealthy country that permits 25% of its children to suffer from periodic bouts of hunger; where the per capita prison population is the highest in the world; where the public health infrastructure showed itself to be abysmally unprepared for a pandemic; where the nation's for-profit health system provides marginal access to healthcare for tens of millions of its poorest citizens especially African Americans and other minority populations. At the very core of these problems is a disastrously inequitable distribution of wealth and therefore power. This system does not work for the majority of its citizens and provides little hope for those many millions with little and diminishing resources.

Within the United States there lies a long festering disease of racial hatred and bigotry that remains a corruptive influence within the body politic.  In the midst of this pandemic madness yet another unarmed black male was brutally and callously murdered by a police officer - this time in Minneapolis MN. The victim, a man named George Floyd, was subjected to a choke hold in which the officer knelt on the man's carotid artery while he was lying on his stomach. George Floyd called out that he couldn't breathe while three officers stood by as idle witnesses. In spite of these pleas, he was subjected to this brutality for more than 8 minutes; this entire incident was videotaped by an eyewitness. This behavior is yet one more example and a startling demonstration of how insignificant the lives of black people seem to be

This news instantaneously spread nationally and globally over the Internet. Ordinarily these kinds of killings - that have become commonplace throughout the nation - are usually followed by a day or two of spontaneous demonstrations especially from African Americans

This time however was entirely different; for the individuals coming from many ethnicities and backgrounds who were outraged by this savagery were idle having been furloughed from work and economic activity by the pandemic. Under these novel circumstances, they could collectively express their outrage and demand reforms not only nationwide but also throughout many parts of the world where such racial bigotry still lives. These demonstrations, mostly peaceful, went on with fervor and determination for weeks and remain extant. it must be remembered that those who participated in the massive demonstrations also placed their personal well-being and safety at risk congregating in huge numbers with the coronavirus still active.

It has become quite apparent, that there are many with a hunger for significant reform, especially the young, and are clamoring for meaningful change. This movement needs encouragement in spite of the relentless pressure being applied by some unscrupulous members of the affluent class who see their exalted and privileged positions in jeopardy

The pandemic of 2020 may inadvertently bring in a period of significant reform and with it renewed hope for many or lead to a return to the former state of supposed normalcy. It will be up to future historians to decide how it all turned out.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

The Price We Pay for Incompetent, Bigoted and Divisive Leadership

The world looks upon us bewildered by the apparent and inexorable disintegration of the social contract that binds the people of the United States to the country they call their own. They are astounded and dumbfounded by the news that greets them on a daily basis that is surely eroding the respect and admiration they once had regarding a nation that used provide a brilliant example of a free, democratic, and forward-looking nation.

The evidence abounds as to the disastrous impact of a federal government under the leadership of a personality that lacks the intellectual capacity to grasp the complex issues that normally faces any vital and thriving nation in the modern era. A stunning example of the reality of this intellectual void is the manner in which he has dealt with the daunting coronavirus pandemic that is currently raging throughout the world. His inaction and serious missteps have been responsible for many unnecessary deaths and suffering that could have been readily avoided by simply listening to the advice coming from the scientific community that is absolutely necessary for dealing with this type of onslaught.

This warped and deranged President has necessarily attracted to his side those who apparently lack any degree of compassion, caring and underlying respect for the truth that are prerequisites for real leadership. The overarching philosophy of this inner-circle is one that embraces power, affluence, and unbridled wealth at the expense of all else including basic human and civil rights, the physical well-being of the general population as well as the health of the natural environment. Sadly, this destructive paradigm has also repelled those who have the necessary qualities to honestly and decisively respond to the current pandemic crisis and the endemic issue of racism that has haunted the nation for four hundred years.

Under his aegis the nation will continue to devolve into a state of existence that is essentially undemocratic and practically unsustainable. This is an extremely heavy price for all of us to pay.



Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Plea for Sanity and Intelligence

Within the seemingly endless maelstrom of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, we are witnessing the full consequences of failed leadership on the part of the Federal government within a corrupt and dysfunctional system. To refer to the virus as our enemy is rather ludicrous at best. Viruses are a fundamental aspect of biological life on planet earth. As a type of life form, they have played an essential role in the evolution of living things over billions of years and are not about to disappear.

The enemy in this debacle is ourselves. As a democratic society, we have apparently chosen an individual to head the Federal government who is patently incapable of real and authentic leadership; someone who is inherently unable to intellectually grasp such a complex issue with all its layered nuances and is, thereby thoroughly and completely out of his depth. He and his cohorts have failed in regard to nearly every level of dealing with a national crisis of such major proportions.

Even though we are currently mired in a very difficult and perilous situation, we do have the unprecedented opportunity to emerge from this crisis with a renewed focus and determination to finally acknowledge and correct the critical inequities that have permeated our national life for far too long. The threat to our health and livelihoods that this pandemic has posed has essentially unveiled the deep-seated problems that have confounded American life.

It has been over one-hundred and fifty years since the end of the devastating and debilitating Civil War and yet as a people we are still haunted and plagued by the prejudice, hatred and bigotry that propelled us into that devastating conflict in the first place. Fear and suspicion continue to dominate national life and have led to an armed and anxious people. We have not yet come to terms with our collective past. The process of rebuilding our social and economic life at the end of this pandemic may provide us with an opportunity to recognize our failings and construct an entirely different and more inclusive image of ourselves not simply for the present moment, but for future generations as well.

Many of the societal ills that have characterized ordinary life in the United States prior to this pandemic include a failed national health system, a fractured and dysfunctional national immigration policy, a seemingly perpetual crisis around the issues of homelessness, poverty and hunger, a justice system that has produced the highest per capita prison population in the world and an educational system that effectively excludes many from legitimate access. As a result of this abject failure to educate our own people, there is currently a profound fear and apparent disregard of the essential role that science does play in modern life.

Many of these failings have as their primary root cause a massive and inequitable distribution of wealth where there are but a few winners at the very top of the economic scale. Along with this tilted economic alignment comes an equivalent and devastating distribution of economic and political power and influence. As a result, important and far-reaching public policies and decisions have been and are being made not based upon the common good and sound scientifically and intellectually- derived principles but rather upon the immediate capacity to generate wealth and profit.

As this public health crisis has clearly demonstrated, this system has failed us especially with leadership that is clearly and categorically aligned with the interests of wealth and power. A society not based upon the premise of providing for the common good, regardless of its avowed political system, is essentially unsustainable.

As a people, we are thereby faced with the choice of either coming through this unprecedented situation and reverting back to failed principles or learning important lessons and fashioning a social order focused upon on creating a sane, intelligent, and sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

In Time of Crisis

The human world is currently in the midst of a global pandemic as the COVID-19 pathogen is spreading throughout human populations around the globe. The United States – purportedly the richest country of all – has faced this crisis essentially unprepared. A significant part of this state of affairs is due to the absence of any real leadership coming from the Federal Government. In fact, the current administration is under the aegis of mostly white males whose guiding and operating principle seems to be the maintenance of their own power and sustaining the preeminence of the affluent class. Collectively, they seem completely devoid of compassion and their behavior shows a nearly complete disregard for the common good. Furthermore, they all seem to exhibit a remarkable disdain for science and for real data; this seems particularly incongruent within the context of the twenty-first century.

The current President rather than taking on a clear leadership role in guiding the country through this crisis has chosen to use his power and authority to divide the country and to make outrageous statements that are outright lies and thereby promote disinformation and inject a perverse kind of chaos into the social fabric at a time when reasoned deliberation and calm is required. As an individual, he displays clear and serious personality disorders, has the emotional maturity of a child, is a pathological liar and has an extremely limited grasp of complex issues. His behavior is costing countless lives lost to the ever-spreading coronavirus. His presidency will definitely be represented in the future history of this nation as a particularly dark and foreboding time.

Beyond the current state of the nation, the momentous disruption in social organization that this pandemic has brought has managed to peel away the layers that have disguised the true reality of American life that has never been far from the surface. In fact, what we are witnessing is the true impact of the extreme social and economic inequality that permeates the very fabric of this country. This inequality is so pervasive that for many of our citizens, there is barely enough income to provide for the most basic of needs – housing and nutrition. For many adequate healthcare is not available, the prospect of hunger and homelessness is ever present and unemployment or under employment is the rule rather than the exception. Side-by-side with this reality is the fact that vast stores of wealth and assets lie within the hands of a very few who also have inordinate control of the reigns of political, social and economic power.

Without a unified, well-crafted, and reasoned plan - based upon sound scientific principles - for safely extricating the country from the manifold consequences of this pandemic, the future remains unpredictable. This vacuum of leadership may provide an opportunity for the unscrupulous to further disrupt the already fractured social condition for the purpose of promoting ill-advised remedies that tap into emotional insecurities and exploit fear. Such a course will necessarily prove disastrous.

It is time for people to awaken to the harsh realities that exist within the very framework of American life and begin to address the underlying inequalities that plague the very heart of this country. For, in reality, there lies another threat to the entire species that demands our full attention; for it may pose a much more profound and existential danger. That issue is, of course, climate change.

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Time of Reassessment

At this moment, with the nation hunkered down under the ominous cloud of a persistent virus pursuing the rapacious programming of its inherent biology, it could be a time for personal and societal reflection. Viruses have, in fact, been an integral part of life on this planet for perhaps billions of years and have apparently played a significant role in the evolution of the remarkable diversity of living beings on this earth. They are a part of the universe of living things that populate the natural environment and are not likely to disappear. That is the reality that we are dealing with.

We can face this challenge by using the tools that science can and does provide and make judicious and wise decisions, or we get let fear dominate our thinking and abandon reason and rational behavior. The ladder choice would necessarily lead to disaster.

At a time when many of us are faced with an enforced isolation, it may provide an opportunity to reflect not only upon our own lives and those who we love and live with but on the very nature of the society that we live in.

In my opinion, it is the time to honor those who have the courage and a determined sense of loyalty and caring to place their own personal safety at risk every day to serve us – to minister to our health, to provide the food and nutrition we require, to deliver the mail, to staff the hospitals, to provide security, to drive ambulances, to rush to fires, to save lives, etc. For these individuals, we must provide all the tools they need to not only do their work but to stay safe; for they are our real saviors.

There are many individuals and families who have been living on the margins – making barely enough income to survive. In a dire situation where that income stream has been halted, they also require our immediate and sustained assistance. There are hundreds of thousands of homeless individuals and families who have no safe house to retreat to minimize their exposure to the virus. Collectively, we cannot in good conscience abandon them. We are a nation with the remarkable distinction of having the greatest number of prisoners per capita than any other sovereignty. Steps must be taken to change this sobering picture; otherwise, it places our view of justice in a remarkably hypocritical light.

My hope it that these stark realities that now haunt us will provide the incentive to reconsider, reevaluate and reassess the nature of our social contract. It may provide an impetus to resuscitate the Commons – to develop the much needed infrastructure to provide accessible healthcare for all, to have a public health system capable of responding quickly and decisively to health emergencies, to provide adequate housing for everyone, and to properly educate and care for all our children.