Friday, February 12, 2021

Bigotry, Hatred, Xenophobia, Ignorance, Violence, and the Disregard for the Truth in America

It has become quite evident in regard to recent events, including the riotous attack on the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021 and the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, that significant parts of the nation have remained mired in a system of beliefs founded on the spurious notion of white supremacy. This underlying worldview has come in direct conflict with the necessarily complex and diverse nature of the American population and the human species on planet earth.

This worldview that sees whites as being innately endowed with superior qualities and attributes can only be sustained if the reality that is everywhere evident and that is reinforced by the cumulative knowledge gained in the realm of science is denied and replaced by an intricate tissue of patent lies, misstatements and falsehoods. In fact, science has clearly established that there is no significant difference in any member of the human species regardless of the color of their skin, place of origin, gender, and sexual orientation.

Viewing reality through the notion of white supremacy necessarily leads to a profound ignorance, a concomitant distrust of that which is true, a tendency towards a virulent and hateful xenophobia and ultimately to an embrace of violence. Collectively, these affectations are completely congruent with the characteristics of fascism. The underlying driving force of this particular constellation of characteristics is the pervasive sense of personal insecurity and fear of being left behind by the forward-moving arc of history and the ever-changing nature of social relationships especially as it relates to the modern world.

It is demagogues like Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump who personify this displacement and exploit the emotions of those most affected. They effectively channel this inner desperation into a kind of uncontrollable rage. It is this rage born of raw emotion that can lead to disastrous consequences. It is this deep-seated frustration that can unhinge an entire culture, for without a respect for the truth and an acknowledgment of the worth and intrinsic value of all members of the species, the future path is one of chaos and disarray. Democratic institutions cannot thrive and develop under such conditions.

Alternatively, a possible route to true stability, peace and social harmony would necessarily involve two significant steps. The first would be the universal acceptance of the fact that the notion of race has no substantial basis in reality, and that we all are deserving of an equal opportunity to thrive and develop as human beings. Secondly, we need to come to grips as a people to the grievous mistakes we have made in the past and seek reconciliation and strive for some measure of restitution. As a people, we need to take complete ownership of our missteps not only toward each other but to the planet upon which we live. Once we collectively do this, we can then go about the business of repairing and reforming not only our human institutions but also the natural environment upon which we all depend. It is through this approach that we can truly change the world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Holiday Message for the Coming Year - 2021

 The year 2020 has been in many ways disturbing and unsettling.  What, of course, comes to mind almost immediately is the COVID 19 pandemic that has claimed so many lives and has been so economically devastating to many facets of the national economy, and especially for those who have lost their livelihoods and businesses.  Added to this national burden are the deep fractures that have been exposed in regard to a national sense of unity, shared-mission and purpose.

Along with this overwhelming sense of loss, however, is the untold bravery, courage and unwavering energy displayed by so many who have risked their own lives and safety to come to the aid of all of us for the unselfish commitment to the greater good.  These individuals have come from many diverse positions - as doctors, nurses, emergency response teams, members of the police and fire departments and first responders of all kinds.  To this list, we should include all those responsible for providing food; for delivering the mail; for the taxi and bus drivers, train operators and pilots; for the teachers; for all those who care for the elderly and for all those who provide the essential services that we all too often take for granted.

My wish for the New Year (2021) is that we grow wiser from the events that have befallen us and see the future as a time for healing and learning from our collective missteps.  My hope is that the new year will be a time of new beginnings.  My dream is that we will finally come to recognize that regardless of our national origin, religious affiliation, skin color or sexual orientation we are all members of the same species with the same physical bodies, the same architecture of the brain, the same genetic makeup, the same constellation of feelings, of hopes and of dreams.  Each of us is worthy of the same opportunities to grow and develop as sentient beings on this most remarkable planet that also needs our kindness, care, and attention.  Earth is, after all, our only home.

Best Wishes to All

Monday, November 09, 2020

Presidential Election 2020 – A Personal Perspective

While listening to the “talking head’ analysis of the Presidential election 2020, I am reminded about how severely misaligned modern humans are in regard to our relationship to the natural world – the environment within which our species and our ancient ancestors have evolved over the past six million years. We find ourselves engrossed, mesmerized, and seduced into this surreal world of politics where reality has been subsumed by attention to the apparently limitless details of the workings of an artificial and contrived reality. Within this realm the citizens of this country participate predominantly adhering to the human propensity towards their tribal natures. What has been lost, at a great price, is our connectedness to the natural world that represents the wellspring of our human nature. What has been lost is our intrinsic humanity. What has been lost is our appreciation of the Commons. We have come to behave as if life were akin to a giant potlatch. What has been lost is an appreciation of the very future of our species coexisting alongside the marvelous diversity of life on planet Earth – our only home. We have come to accept as normal a worldview that is responsible for an acceleration of the deterioration of the very natural world that sustains us even to the extent of modifying the global climate so drastically that it may no longer support us in the not-so-distant future.

The current President of the United States has clearly demonstrated time and time again his gross incompetence, his meager intellectual capacity, his mendacity, his insufferable cruelty and yet he appears to remain preferable as a leader in the eyes of his adherents. In fact, apparently over 70 million voted for him (many of them enthusiastically) – choosing him as the one who would guide and shape their collective destiny. This is possible; because he projects himself as a mirror where his followers see themselves in him and he likewise becomes them. In this way, he becomes their tribal leader. It is no matter that he could propel the entire country to ruin and devastation; that the next generation could suffer immeasurable harm. This all seems to be of little relevance when higher-order brain function that establishes us as sentient beings is thoroughly scorned and maligned. This kind of destructive collective behavior and corrosive mentality has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout the torturous history of human civilizations – a notable example in recent time was the fiery beginnings and apocalyptic ending of the Third Reich in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s (1933- 1945). After this twelve yearlong planetwide scourge, a large proportion of the human world was left in ruins and over seventy million perished.

Our real hope lies not in the leader of the moment, but rather in ourselves. Our hope lies in our capacity to dislodge and discard all the patently false notions of our supposed superiority within the human family and come to recognize and believe that all humans regardless of their place of origin, or the color of their skin, or their system of beliefs or their sexual orientation are essentially the same. Our hope lies in our embrace of all the wondrous diversity on this planet – to honor and act as responsible stewards of the fantastic wealth and wonder of the natural world, and not in our ability to exploit, devastate and control. It is incumbent upon all of us to live in a way that will help ensure that all humans have an equal chance at living full and enriching lives both now and into the future.

Our real hope lies within our ability and determination to transcend our tribalism and xenophobia and greed and absorption with self - if we are ever to escape the destiny of so many civilizations that have been consigned to the trash heap of history. Such a shift in consciousness may seem terribly remote and unlikely, yet it is certainly within our capacity as humans. We can and must incorporate our higher-order brain function within the ordinary conduct of our daily lives. In my mind, it is immensely sad and regrettable that so much human suffering is unnecessary; that the great harm we are inflicting upon ourselves, the natural world and upon all the marvelous diversity of life is completely avoidable. We can and should do better than this.

I am mostly convinced that I will not be among the living when and if such a transformation happens within the human psyche, yet it is not beyond the realm of possibility that it will take shape in some form within the human community. As humans, we are certainly equipped to undergo such a metamorphosis in our worldview and communal behavior. It may very well be up to the young to create and adopt a new paradigm for living in a way that is more compatible to our true humanity – it certainly will be in their own best interest to do so.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Critical Need for a New Paradigm

 




The human species is in a state of perpetual crises. This has been made evident by the turmoil present within so many human societies throughout the globe. It has been this way since the very beginnings of human civilization. The protracted history of humanity in the last 10,000 years has been filled with many wars of aggression, widespread bigotry, hatred, and enmity between peoples who view themselves as being different. This propensity for tribalism and xenophobia is more than likely a result of human evolution on planet earth – it was a time when these kinds of responses provided a significant advantage for small local groups competing for survival in an essentially hostile environment.

During this early stage in human evolution, the species (Homo sapiens) was sparsely populated on the planet and the tribal disputes between local peoples of different origins did not have much of an impact on the longevity of the species or on the health and state of the natural environment primarily due to the primitive nature of weaponry.

Currently, however, with close to 8 billion individuals populating this fragile ecosystem called earth and where advances in technological warfare has brought us horrendous weapons of mass destruction, this is no longer the case. We have reached a time in human development on planet earth where it has become imperative that humans learn to cooperate with each other regardless of their place of origin, the color of their skin, their particular belief systems, and their sexual orientation.

The level of competition between peoples for natural resources such as land and water and sources of energy, for example, has become so acute that the usual practice of acting with violence and aggression towards real or perceived adversaries has become counterproductive and detrimental to the very future of the species. Empire building and the penchant for colonization has thankfully diminished over the recent past, but the urge to dominate others and accrue wealth and power at the expense of the weak remains as a dominant and corrosive force within the body politic.

The modern quest for energy to propel the hunger and thirst for material progress has now created a situation where the very stability of the earthly climate is in jeopardy. In order to ensure a secure future for the coming generations, the only remedy is to reach all-encompassing solutions to the daunting issues of climate change, wars of aggression, hatred, and bigotry and to build cooperative and compassionate relationships between all peoples around the globe.

To accomplish these elusive goals on a worldwide scale requires a new paradigm – one in which all humans inhabiting this planet are accepted as an intrinsic part of the human family and worthy of an equal chance and opportunity to pursue their goals, aspirations and the promise of a full and rewarding life. One in which all humans are viewed as being of equivalent worth and held within the context of a universal and caring global human community.

It is within this light, that true peace and security is achievable. It is within this light, that humanity will finally be able to release itself from the seemingly endless cycle of violence and retribution. Whether humankind will ever be able to transcend the oppressive boundaries of its own limited conclusions is, of course, an open question. We must, however, dare to hope and dare to dream and dare to finally act in our own best interests.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Insidious Consequences of Racial Bigotry and Ignorance upon the National Character

It has been 400 years since the first slave arrived on American shores. It has been over 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the American Civil War. It has been 66 years since the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs Board of Education that proclaimed that, “Separate is not equal.” Is has been over 50 years since the “end” of Jim Crow in the American South. Yet, in spite of this protracted length of time and the supposed progress that has been made in the area of race relations in the United States, why does the problem of racial, social, and economic injustice persist?

An honest description of the actual and unvarnished history of slavery and its aftermath is absolutely essential, if we are to fully appreciate its impact upon the very fabric of American life.  This history exposes the degree to which racial attitudes and prejudices have become interwoven into the life of this nation.  These attitudes are based upon an erroneous conception of racial disparities – the science of human genetics has shown unambiguously that there are no significant genetic differences between individual members of the human species (Homo sapiens) regardless of the category of race they have been included within.  Race is after all an artificial and contrived notion.

Any description of the horrendous details of this history paints a very disturbing picture of the brutality and violence directed against black American citizens of the United States who are collectively treated as somehow less than human.  It, in fact, portrays the dark and insidious aspects of public policies, personal attitudes and political ideologies sustained and nurtured by racial bigoty, ignorance, hatred, and violence. The abject failure of this country and its people to come to terms with the nature and substance of its racial attitudes once and for all and to rectify the deep inequities that exist among our people is a disturbing reality of contemporary life.  The most distressing trend is the apparent reemergence of the notion of white supremacy reminiscent of the pre-Civil War era in which the nation was sharply split by vastly divergent ideological principles.  This is especially evident given the rise of legislation in numerous American states especially in the American South designed to suppress the participation of the non-white population in the voting process reminiscent of the dark days of Jim Crow.

Jim Crow refers to an intricate array of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation.  The first known instance was in 1875 when the state of Virginia mandated segregation in the public schools.  Jim Crow became prevalent in the American South and these practices became the focus of national attention as a result of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and were subsequently outlawed as a result of federal law and intervention.

In spite of the fact that the legal infrastructure of Jim Crow has been substantially undermined, the insidious nature of this mindset still exerts a profound impact upon the human psyche.  For, it has left significant scars on the American character.  The intrinsic structure of Jim Crow was designed to restrict personal and economic freedom in a substantive way; to undermine a sense of true belonging; to threaten personal safety, and to demean and dehumanize an entire people based solely upon the color of their skin.  Jim Crow was a system that legitimized the imposition of daily and insidious abuse upon the lives of those who were once slaves and had the audacity to expect to be treated as a equals in a land that projected a patently false image of its cultural and political superiority.

Of course, this bigoted mindset is not directed solely towards black Americans, but also has been and continues to be applied to Native Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, and peoples of Asian descent.  This supposedly nativist outlook in this nation of immigrants refuses to embrace the reality that all humans are members of the same species on this our planet Earth and deserving of just and equal treatment in all aspects of communal life.  Instead, it invokes the inherently fallacious conviction that whites are intrinsically separate from and superior to all other people in the human world. 

The time is long overdue for this country to come to terms with its history especially in regard to the blatantly inequitable treatment of a sizeable portion of its population.  This kind of national self-assessment is also a critical part of the healing process that is required, if we are ever fully realize the dream of a truly free and Democratic Republic.  Our continued failure to do this, accounts to a large extent for the current state of disharmony and dysfunction in American life.  Our continued failure to recognize our failings and the unmistakably insidious aspects of our collective past will only add to our future grief and will further disrupt our progress as a nation.

Saturday, October 03, 2020