This ship of state is heading towards disaster with a deranged captain at the helm. By his side a coterie of white men, pockets flowing over with the gold of the realm, are directing this ill-equipped leader to whatever egomaniacal whim of the moment possesses him and them. Their passion, the amassing of staggering amounts of personal wealth while many of the nation’s people starve, with its armies of the homeless and the desperate, with its prisons filled to capacity with the dark-skinned and the poor, with the old and enfeebled on long lines at the soup kitchen, with health care a privilege and longevity a gift to those who can afford it.
The corporate class in full possession of all the keys that gain them unfettered access to the riches of the State. The political capitol glutted with lobbyists and a stunning array of merchants of greed. Money feverishly changing hands, transactions abounding in the marketplace with a wealth of get-rich-quick schemes and a paucity of productive ideas for the furtherment of the well-being of the species. Without an iota of compassion or concern for the plight of the those who suffer needlessly, without even the telltale of evidence of shame and guilt that should haunt them, power drinks from the endless reservoir of the labor of others and wreaks havoc upon the natural environment on this planet – our only home.
Everything is to be exploited, everything up for grabs, all is on the menu in the glorious and insatiable interest of profit. Even the wondrous beauty of the world of nature has been subjected to the laws of commerce and accumulation of wealth. Even the health and security of future generations is up for bids. Even the very future of the species is placed in serious jeopardy.
I have been demonstrating and arguing for a nation aligned with true equality for all and a penchant for peace, social justice and for sanity for over fifty years. I have been an outspoken advocate for civil rights in the midst of the turbulent 60s and for a repudiation of the onerous impact of Jim Crow. I was deeply involved with the anti-Vietnam War movement and still feel a deep sense of remorse for the millions of innocent lives lost at the hands of the United States using insidious weapons of mass destruction for the sake of our benighted capitalist vision for the world’s people.
Tens of millions of innocents have been consigned to a premature grave on account of the many unnecessary wars and brutal violence we have inflicted in many regions on the globe. I was newly born when the United States obliterated the two functioning and viable cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with apocalyptic atomic weapons. I was born when an entire people, American citizens of Japanese descent, were forcefully evacuated from their homes, stripped of their livelihoods and placed in so-called “internment camps.” We have yet to take ownership of these horrific examples of our use of military force and political oppression to secure our objectives. I have taken to the street innumerable times for civil rights, against war, for homosexual rights, for women’s rights and even in support of science.
Progress has been made, yet the hatred and bigotry, small-mindedness and sheer stupidity remain a significant aspect of the national character. Yet the private ownership of guns and assault weapons continues to grow. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) lives under different covers and the idea of white supremacy thrives within the wasteland that typifies so much of the national landscape.
Progress has been made in many areas of social life in the nation, yet its history is replete with horrific episodes of immense brutality including the imposition of slavery upon Africans physically abducted from their country and culture of origin. This condition lasted for almost two-hundred and fifty years. There are those who maintain to this day that slavery was, in fact, not a “bad thing.” Later in the nation’s history, black males were repeatedly lynched by lawless mobs for mostly unjustifiable reasons. These “events” were happily witnessed by spectators consisting of men, women and even children. The grotesque corpses hanging from trees were mutilated and horribly disfigured and postcards depicting this savagery were mailed to others highlighting these “celebrations.” Race riots occurred throughout the nation over many years in many locales in which blacks and other races were indiscriminately slaughtered for no other reason than the color of their skin or the origin of their birth.
Americans so proud of their heritage live on lands stolen from the Native American populations that were annihilated to the very point of extinction. A bogus war against Mexico was used as a way to acquire territory that now comprises a significant portion of the nation’s landmass. All this unspeakable violence was perpetrated against peoples that were determined to be of little worth for the sole purpose of accruing wealth and power - often suggesting that god was on the side of such evil. Americans so enamored by this land of, “the free and the brave” reside in a country that defoliated some twenty-five percent of the Vietnamese countryside during the Vietnam War so as to expose the enemy to military aircraft using the same substance, Agent Orange, that was later shown to be the causative agent of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This country used burning gasoline (napalm) against Vietnamese civilian populations that could literally burn the skin off of a human body. Americans so convinced of the seeming invincibility of their economic system live in a country that destroyed the damns in North Korea during the Korean War that held water to irrigate rice lands that fed its people so as to instigate mass starvation. In this same war, nearly every major North Korean city was decimated with American-built bombs dropped from above by American-made airplanes. In this same war, millions of Koreans were killed. Americans inured to convenience and comfort live in a country that systematically destroyed the infrastructure of the entire county of Iraq during the Second Gulf War that was an unprovoked invasion and occupation of that country leading to the immediate and protracted death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Americans so convinced of the freedoms they think they possess live in a country that used anti-personnel weapons and landmines over huge stretches of real estate in the tiny countries of Laos and Cambodia that are still killing innocent people to this day. Has America ever “owned up” to these horrors, taken responsibility for these acts of unspeakable cruelty or made any attempt at restitution? The answer to this is a resounding no.
America 2020 is now feeling the full weight of this history that has fashioned, shaped and directed the national temperament. The collective weight of these horrors perpetrated against so many peoples throughout the world – usually the poor and people of color – has stripped this nation of any noticeable degree of compassion and any sense of caring. The cumulative impact of this history has led us to this place – where fear dominates the national temperament. Where hundreds of millions of guns and assault weapons reside in the homes of many Americans. Where periodic acts of horrendous violence are perpetrated by those living on the periphery of the culture. There is an insidious ugliness driven by hatred and bigotry, violence and fear that exists not far below the surface in American life.
America 2020 is impaled upon the wrath, ignorance, hatred, bigotry and greed of its own making. America 2020 is now occupied by two disparate worldviews. One that feels that America is a country meant only for those who are “deserving” i.e. with appropriate whiteness in the color of their skin and that express a total loyalty and fealty to both god and country. The other side longs for reforms that will embrace all with a spirit of equality and justice.
Yet neither of these divergent camps express any sense of remorse, or guilt, compassion or shame for the burden of the nation’s past. Without this recognition of the full impact of the way we have conducted ourselves in the world, there is little hope for any kind of meaningful change. Without our collective willingness to discover the true meaning of who we are as a people, there is little chance of avoiding the abyss of our further decline.
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