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

Thursday, August 27, 2020

America 2020

America 2020

The national leader

towering epitome of

crazed ambition,

pitiful ignorance

remarkable stupidity,

a hollowed-out spirit

directing a vast army of

the walking dead

with a cacophony of lies and

intentioned misdirections.

 

America 2020

vast homeland

marooned on a ruderless ship

bound for perdition,

blind to the truths

that lie about like

deserted corpses,

blind to its own endemic racism,

its xenophobia,

its homeless and dispossessed,

blind to its blood-soaked history

leaving the insidious remanants of holocausts

around the globe,

blind to its hatreds

its relentless and perpetual violence,

blind to the tattered fabric of its

own brutish past,

blind to the scorched and beleagured planet,

blind to the magnificent beauty of

its very homeland

filled with such wondrous diversity.

 

America 2020

land of the walking dead

fluent in endless praise

of their great country

that they proclaim with

supposed love and reverence,

yet perversity reigns

as poisons are injected with

haphazard indifference into

the sky and water and soil,

as the automobile is held sacred,

oil valued more that the future,

science held suspect

and the health and safety

of the next generations

discarded like an old and battered

pair of jeans.

 

America 2020

citizenry armed and dangerous

the gun  a tool of vigilanty justice

beneath the shadow of the noose

where the spirits of all of those

black souls hung and mutilated

scream out at us as a reminder

of our collective decadence,

law and order the mantra

spoken with eloquence

on the trash heap of battered justice,

prisons filled with the poor and

people of color,

prison cheap labor abudant,

lives emptied of meaning

among the denizens of captivity.

 

America 2020

homeless everywhere,

children with hungry demeanor

plague the streets,

poor and the destitute

queueing up at foodbanks,

bivouaced on parkbenches,

convening makeshift alliances at

bus stations and subway platforms,

crumbs dispensed with fanfare

from lavish banquets where

deals are made

and wealth assured for those

with profit running through their bloodstream.

 

America 2020

nation of sleepwalkers

oblivious to the reality all around them

to the incessant beauty of the

human world,

to the cosmos,

to the striking wonders of the

natural world,

to all the needless suffering,

oblivious to the inherent precious and

transient nature of passing time.

 

America 2020

standing at the abyss

ready to make the plunge

into the swirling vortex of

its own cumulative past,

ready to consign reason

to the graveyard,

ready to dissolve into the chaos

of violence and needless destruction,

ready to surrender freedom to the

vagaries and madness of senseless authority,

ready to consign an extraordinary experiment

that was America into

the unforgiving graveyard and

the future to desolation and regret.


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.