This nation is in the midst of a deep, dark and apparently abiding crisis. This reality seems to have been existentially expressed with the indiscriminate and horrific mass killings in public places within a single week, In Dayton Ohio and El Paso Texas, of innocent people in the midst of living their lives. These events happened within days of each other. The impact that this has on the nation that has endured numerous events of this kind all over the country is not being fully appreciated; for, it places a deep, dark and abiding cloud of uncertainty and fear in regard to freely engaging in public life in this country.
These series of events, however, is not the cause of this crisis but rather a symptom of a far more pervasive malaise that haunts this nation. Over the short span of this nation’s history, people of color are quite familiar with this level of anxiety that has haunted them through many generations. Now, it seems, that seething bigotry, hatred, violence and fear that haunts so many of our citizens has spread towards immigrants in a nation of the descendants of immigrants. This hatred and fear have become so blinding that it has begun to terrorize the entire population.
Although this aspect of American life has been with us as long as I can remember, it is now being aided and abetted by the national leadership. We currently have a government that is essentially under the control of powerful corporate interests under the aegis of a President that operates without a moral compass; that seems to have a distorted vision of this country that denies the vitality of its inherent diversity; that puts commercial interests above all else; that exacerbates differences between the nation’s people for purely political ends.
We currently have a government whose agencies are directed by individuals that have little or no interest in the public good, and, in fact, are promoting policies that undermine the very laws that instituted these agencies in the first place. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an excellent case in point.
We have a government that has been corrupted by the monies and directed wealth of private and corporate interests to such an extreme that we now have privately-run prisons for profit, fossil fuel companies who are more than willing to place the entire global human population in jeopardy in order to ensure their continued profitability; the corporate-directed dismantling of environmental regulations put in place to protect the public health and well-being and a massive military-industrial complex that is diverting vast resources away from addressing the real concerns of the people.
This crisis has been incubating within the national psyche for a long time. For that reason, there is no easy remedy; it will not be resolved through the leadership of any one person no matter how adept, eloquent, persuasive and well-intentioned. The time of healing and national reconciliation is long overdue. As a people, we need to come to terms with who we are and, most importantly, where we have failed. We need to choose wisely; we need to insist that those who want our political support are truly invested in the public good. We must insist that the government’s business must be divested from powerful and wealthy interests. We need to truly embrace the idea that every one of us is of equal worth and deserving of true equality in both law and custom. We need to foster and insist upon smart government that has a clear vision of the future with an undeniable moral compass.
If we are truly a democratic society based upon a system of law and a longing for justice, then the future is in our hands to shape as we must. If we elect to let the current force of history to move unamended, our future as a people may be in serious peril.