Chapter 77 – How Did We Get Here?

       It’s been a while since my last post. So much has happened since then. Two mass shootings, the abuse of immigrants seeking asylum has become an accepted practice of our government, Democrats have had several curious if not interesting debates and the US president’s lunacy and ignorance continues to be on full display for the world to see with every issue and crisis that arises. One has to wonder what the odds are that Trump is going to make some apocalyptic blunder that plunges the world back to the Stone Age before the 2020 elections. I’m sure the majority of Americans are just like me in that they are moved to ask one simple question: How did we get to this point where things are this bad, and the future and safety of all of us is at such great risk? From the very beginning, I’ve been clear to communicate that my purpose for sharing these insights is the hope that in some way I can help anyone reading them gain a clearer understanding of where we are headed as a country and what we will have to change to avoid the final destination, which I believe to be catastrophic. With that in mind, consider the following.

       I assert that the current world crisis was set in motion almost 100 years ago with the industrial revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, the flash point that set us on the path to self-destruction that we are currently on began on September 11th2001. America made a few critical decisions on that day that could have only landed us where we are today. It’s said that no human being or all of humanity for that matter, can control what happens to them. We can, however control the response or reaction to what happens. It is not the events that occur, but our responses and reactions to them that ultimately lead us to our final destiny. On 9 / 11 / 2001, a sizable number of Americans had two critical reactions as a result to that event. The first was the decision that we must jettison all our traditional American values in order to be safe in the world. The second, and by far the most damaging decision, was the belief that people of color are the mortal enemies of white America and must be treated as such if life and liberty are to be persevered for white Americans. Those two beliefs have lead to the massive domestic arms race that has gone on since 9/11, that is on the verge of turning our country into one big shooting gallery and has made it possible for corporate interests to completely take over the national and almost all state governments in the US, to the detriment of almost every working person in America. Corporate interests, primarily represented by the Republican Party, have very cleverly exploited the myths and stereotypes about people of color that have festered in the American psyche for generations, spanning hundreds of years, to evoke an almost hysterical fear in many white Americans, of the false belief that our country is being invaded and taken over by people of color, for the purpose of expelling white people. Using the elevation of that kind of racial hysteria as a motivating force, the corporate billionaire class, led by the Koch brothers, have somehow convinced almost a third of all Americans, to allow them to do pretty much anything they want for the promise of beating back the “hoards” of immigrants “invading” our country.

       Recall that immediately after 9/11, the American public gave corporate America and the Republican Party that represents them permission to do all the things they had been trying to do since the end of WWII, beginning with an unprecedented amount of power and money given to the military to do whatever they wanted, as long as it was in the name of fighting terrorism. We allowed them to suspend all civil liberties and commit torture. We allowed them to give corporations the right to infuse as much money as they want into the political system of our country, with no accounting of any kind. As a result, under the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Chaney and the Republican neocons, we destroyed the infrastructure of the Middle East, either directly or indirectly, creating a refugee problem that first exhausted the resources of the neighboring Arab countries accepting them and eventually causing it to spread into the European continent, resulting in the rise of rightwing extremism that appears to be taking over Europe. We allowed the banking industry to rescind all of the rules and laws put into place to protect against a repeat of the hard learned lessons of the depression of the 1930s. As a result, investment bankers and real estate tycoons literally stole as much as 30% of the savings of all of middleclass America to pay for the housing crisis they created, virtually bankrupting not only middleclass America but the entire world economy in the process. In desperation, we elected a black man President of the US and leader of the free world. It’s the same thing I saw in New York City in the early 1990s when the city bankrupted itself and elected David Dinkins, a black man, mayor, and later somehow blamed him for all that was done prior to his taking office. In his case also, there was a right wing backlash that resulted in Rudolf Giuliani being elected mayor. The backlash of Obama’s election is what has led to Donald Trump and the current rise of white nationalism and white supremacy in this country. The mass migration of Central American refugees that is galvanizing the resolve of these rightwing groups is powered and funded by the massive illegal drug market in the US. This illegal drug market, and the degenerate culture that goes along with it, severely aggravated the mass psychological depression resulting from the rapid decline of the middleclass in America. As a result, the new stereotype of the American junkie is the salt of the earth, formerly middle class white person. The groundwork for the illegal drug market was laid in the 1980s and early 1990s with the massive infusion of drugs, mainly in the form of crack cocaine, into black inner city areas. I can’t prove it, but I will go to my grave believing that the remnants of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI in various forms, was responsible for this as part of the continued effort to undermine economic development and assimilation of the black community into mainstream American society that has continued since the end of the Civil War. All of these catastrophes, and the fear, anxiety, hatred and despair carried with them, have combined to put us exactly where we are today.

       I said this catastrophe began with the industrial revolution. I say this because it was then that the United States and Europe began an economic system that consists of exploiting developing countries for their natural resources and procuring them for little or no money, processing them at home and then reselling the processed product back to Third World countries for 5 to 10 times what it would cost if those countries processed their own resources at home. Under that system, economic collapse and social unrest are inevitable for the Third World countries. It’s a story as old as the Roman Empire. Once you conquer the world, you are the world, and you have no one to tax but yourself. You leave the conquered with nowhere to go once they loose their autonomy but to the center of power to make a living when doing so in their homeland is virtually impossible for on reason or another.

       I know when you look at the accumulation of challenges we face today, it seems like there’s no way to avoid the apocalypse we appear to be heading for. However, I believe there is a way to avoid it. It may sound Pollyanna and overly idealistic, but the only way back from the abyss is to start seeing each other differently. We have reached the point in human history where we finally must decide if it is better to see the world as a place where resources are limited and some of us must die so others can live or to view all of humanity as one family and we must collectively decide what gives us all the best chance of survival as a species. In both cases, many of the same decisions will be made, but if the decisions are made out of the former belief, the changes will be violent, chaotic and eventually will fail. With the latter belief, the changes will be orderly and humane and more than likely will result in the preservation of not just human, but all animal life on the planet. I’ve often spoken of how in my life as a child in the quasi-integrated North, there was the sense that all children were cherished and adults treated all children like they were their children, regardless of race, creed or color. It was very unusual for an adult of any race to mistreat a child of any race. Problems and deficiencies of any kind were attacked on the basis of what was needed to correct the problem or deficiency and not the race or national origin of the child or person involved. Many of us may not want to believe it, but we as a nation will never see or imagine the solutions to our problems with immigration, climate change and healthcare until we see the children involved as our children and the adults as our parents, grandparents, spouses and other relatives. 

       If we fail to do this we will live to see our worse nightmares become reality – a world where the living will truly envy the dead. I say this not because I am a profit but as a reasonably enlightened man of science, I conclude it is the only possible result from our collective behavior. We can’t continue to ignore scientific law, economic law and behavioral science law and expect any other outcome. We must come to grips with the fact that there will be certain amount of suffering and burden we all will have to bare to right the decades old wrongs we have created. Those burdens are much easier to bear if we see each other as families instead of the racial hierarchy of value that we have assigned to each other. Tribal defense along racial lines will ultimately result in the winners literally having to cannibalize themselves to survive – as I said, the living will envy the dead.       

My wife left me a gift by her passing. Some may consider it a curse. In any event, since she died, I have a much deeper connection to all my surviving fellow humans. The pain of her loss has left me with a much deeper appreciation for life and how difficult life can be for all we souls who walk this planet. Today, whenever I see random acts of kindness, especially when they happen between people of different races or different religions, I’m moved to tears. It can be as simple as a young white man, holding the door and smiling for an elderly black woman. More than ever, I’m present to the fact that the human race can no longer afford the luxury of racism and tribal enmity. We have arrived at that point in history that, as Martin Luther King, a true profit, warned us of when he said, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or die together as fools”.

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