LOOK AROUND YOU
We’re going through some pretty trying times in this country, don’t you think?
We are as divided as we were during the fights over segregation, war and civil rights in the ‘60s. Trump supporters and opposers can’t even talk to each other, each incredulous at the ignorance and blindness of the other side. Is there any hope?
The 2020 election will certainly affect and determine a lot. Along with trying to figure out what really makes SM tick, I have been pondering, discussing and reading about our national politics.
THINGS HAPPEN IN LIFE
That are difficult. People you love get sick, they leave, they die, they get addicted, you divorce, you lose a job, your house, a career. But it seems there are now too many people unnecessarily in crisis — given that this is the richest country in the world.
You can’t just eradicate symptoms, you have to treat the cause. Where do all those symptoms come from? We have to dig down deep to find those causes.
About 40 years ago an economic philosophy presented itself in this country as good for business — “trickle down” (remember Reagan?) — but it is an amoral philosophy. Because it posits that the only thing that this huge power in this country which is the American corporation has to address and be responsible for, is short term profit for its stockholders.
Before that corporations took some responsibility for the workers who made them successful, because it was understood that there were more stakeholders than just their shareholders. The community is also a stakeholder, the environment is a stakeholder. Every American citizen is a stakeholder in what goes on in American corporations.
“Trickle down” embedded itself not only in our financial institutions but in our government, through the influence of big money. And in the psyche of our nation, hijacking our moral values.
Just like a person, if an economic system has no sense of moral responsibility to anything outside itself, it is a sociopath. We are being tyrannized by a sociopathic economic system. It is basically a reversion to an aristocratic system, where only a few people are entitled to the goods. In Europe for centuries, that’s the way it was. In 1776 we new Americans repudiated aristocracy. And we need to do it again.
The Declaration of Independence was America’s mission statement: that it’s not just a few people, it’s not just a king and his rich friends (sound familiar these days?), but all men are created equal. It is a philosophical document. That the inherent human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable, and that governments are instituted to secure and protect those rights.
Those were and still are radical concepts. Embedded into the very foundation of this country were the most illumined, most enlightened principles ever to have been used to found a nation. That’s where it began, but that’s also where it became immediately problematic. Because 41 of those brave signers were slave owners. That dichotomy is baked into the cake in this country, that polarity is part of our DNA — we are both. And I believe that lingering original sin must be resolved before we can be a truly united nation.
We had slavery in this country and then a generation rose up and abolished it. We had the suppression of women and we had generations rise up, the Suffragettes and now, #metoo. We had institutionalized white supremacy and segregation and a generation rose up with the Civil Rights movement. We had major overreach by capitalism and generations rose up with the labor union movement, child labor laws and other financial regulations (many of those now discarded). We had the suppression of rights for gay people even to marry and we had a rising up, in our own generation, of the marriage equality movement.
Nothing new is going on here. The bastards are always at the door. This is the same stuff come back around.
But cynicism is just an excuse for not helping. Denial is not transcendence and claiming you keep yourself divorced from politics is not an excuse for ignoring the suffering of others. You must rise up. Love sometimes is not soft, it is fierce.
The slaughter of indigenous peoples, slavery, segregation, suppression of women, gays and others did not ever end because of the political establishment. The people stepped in, and it is time once again. You can’t have the future you want unless you’re willing to clean up the past.
Nothing less than a fundamental disruption of the economic and political status quo is going to heal this. Those not willing to call out the underlying forces that make all that pain inevitable, are part of the problem.
People can change and countries can change but you can’t change if you continue to lie to yourself about who you are. This country has to have a brutally honest conversation with itself. We have to say yes, we love our country but there are shadows here, character defects, hypocrisy, we have swerved from who we say we are. Racism was our original character defect and it is time to acknowledge that with some form of economic restitution. Germany paid $84B to Jews, Reagan signed the restitution act for Japanese-Americans we put in camps. With reparations there is moral force. A wrong done, a debt owed.
Some people think it is naive to think peace is possible. But it is the only survivable option for the human race. It’s naive to think this planet will even be habitable for humans in another 50-100 yrs. We will not survive as Americans if we continue to allow ourselves to be fooled, distracted, played.
Nearly half of the American population now lives at the level of poverty or low income. When we recognize that all large groups of desperate people are national security risks, we will stop giving $718B to a military budget.
This isn’t going to stop unless we stop it. We have to say no to some things, before we can say yes to things we want and need.
We need to rise up and say, you did this to my grandparents, you’re not going to do it to my kids.
I unequivocally own every one of these ideas. Some I have been muttering for years, some I have put into columns. But what I wrote above, after “THINGS HAPPEN,” is a distillation of a talk I heard Sunday by a presidential candidate. Elizabeth Warren? Good guess. Bernie? Better. No, it was Marianne Williamson. She also said, “Everybody says it’s really a shame my candidacy is such a long shot, well, if everyone who said that voted for me, I would be the next President of the United States.”
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com