When I first began these memoirs, the subjects of my text was simply human emotions and intellect – what the world looked like to a man who had completed his professional mission as a dentist. After 2016, I like every other American, have been consumed by politics. Politics used to be something you were at choice about. There was little difference between the two political parties, and politics was a matter of personal advancement through interaction with politicians. Today, it feels like a fight to preserve the American way of life. But is that really the case? It occurred to me that when you say, “the American way of life”, that has always meant different things to different people.
When I was growing up in Queens, New York, being black meant being treated different. It was just a fact of life. It wasn’t in your face all the time, but you knew that there were certain barriers to you advancing your station in life that were not there for white people. For example, if you were black, and there was a certain activity you wanted to engage in, or a certain place you wanted to work, you knew to ask, “Are black people allowed to participate in that activity?” or “Are they hiring black people for that job?” In those days, in metropolitan New York, 50% of the time, the answer was yes. Consequently, you had a sense that you were moving towards full citizenship. You accepted that you were going to have to work harder for anything of real value than your white peers, and somehow, that was OK.
At the same time, in the southern part of the United States, white men were privileged to abuse or disparage black people at will. To them, that was the American way of life. If they were rejected in some way by their wife or boss, they were free to vent their frustration on the first black person they encountered or as happened in many cases, could seek out a black person to abuse, kill or rape with impunity. Again, that was the American way of life for them.
Between those two extremes there were numerous versions of the American way of life, all blissfully ignorant of the other renditions of the American dream. The question is, how in spite of the numerous interpretations of what defines Americana, the American people were united in their belief in basic American values, such as fairness, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and the right to privacy and protection against government intrusion, sixty years ago.
I’m going to say some things now that we all know to be true but dare not ever say out loud. These things transcend race, religion and politics. They go to what we are as human beings, and what is our role and purpose on the planet. When you think about it, all our problems in the United States and throughout the entire world stem from one thing – our failure to regulate our population growth. All our problems, from environmental stress, to lack of gainful employment for most of the people of the world, stem from that one factor – the over population of human beings on the planet. The eternal struggle between religion and science will be the final arbiter that will determine our fate. Religion tells us that we must not institute birth control measures or perform abortions and to rely on abstinence alone to control our birth rate. Science tells us that the human condition is such that the compulsion to procreate to strong to be controlled by abstinence alone and never in human history has that been accomplished. Some form of war is always the human way to settle any conflict and there in lies the seeds to our destruction. Historically, since the industrial revolution, we have deluded ourselves into believing that our wars have been fought for various practical secular reasons, but when you boil it down, it always comes down to science vs. religion.
Today, there’s no question about it. Every war worldwide has a religious context. Given our propensity for evermore lethal weapons of mass destruction, how long can we expect to go on before someone unleashes the chemical weapon that poisons the environment for all of us forever, or the biologic that wipes out 90% of the human population in a month, or before some narcissistic madman begins the process of unleashing all the nuclear weapons we have stock pilled all over the world. Science tells us we can have it all. We can enjoy sexual intercourse without fear of pregnancy or disease as long as we follow certain instructions and when those measures fail, abortions can quickly and humanely terminate the pregnancy. The abortion part of the formula is unsettling to most of us but may be in part a necessary evil for survival of the human race. Religion tells us that abortion is an abomination against God, although it is not directly addressed in any of the four most dominant religions on the planet. I think it’s interesting too that religion doesn’t condemn any of the radical unnatural measures to enhance or facilitate birth.
In 1960 the human population on the planet was a little less than 5 billion people. Today, it’s 7.6 billion. Human beings are very similar in many ways to rodents. That’s why we use them to experiment with new drugs and food additives. Their systems respond and react very similar to ours. There is a rodent in the northern tundra called the lemming. These lemmings are not much larger than our common house mouse and are so successful that periodically they over populate to the point that they are literally on top of one another. They are so crowded they constantly fight and kill one another out of frustration. There is also an increase in homosexual activity. Finally, in desperation, they all take off from their underground habitants in all directions, exposing themselves to every manner of predator there is. Birds of prey, foxes, wolves, badgers, carnivores of every variety gorge themselves on the hundreds of thousands of creatures that would rather die than spend another day with each other in the safety of their nests. The phenomenon is called the lemming run or dash. The majority of them finally run off a cliff to their death. The human version of lemming run is called war.
I spoke earlier of the southern white man’s version of the American way of life. That concept was soundly rejected by American society in the 1960s and it eventually came to end without a full scale civil war. This is because Americans had ample time to change. It had 300 years to finally accept people of African decent as fully human. It had 100 years to accept the idea of having black people as equal citizens with equal rights. We are still in the process of accepting them as being something other than subservient to white people, but groups like black lives matter are frantically trying to help America get past that as well.
What over population does is rob us of time. America still hasn’t completely reconciled itself with its history with African Americans before having to deal with the acceptance of a variety of other people of color, with different motivations for fleeing to America and Western Europe. The politics we are currently experiencing is the beginnings of the human version of the lemming run. The majority group feels overwhelmed by minorities that are fast becoming the majority. It takes time for the minorities to merge with the majority. By merge, I mean adapt the majority customs, religion and values. All this makes our county’s reaction to the situation understandable, but not excusable. We are having so much difficulty because we refuse to address the problem at its source. The world wide refugee problem is the human version of the lemmings living on top of one another. The wars that are driving them out of their native born countries are being waged because the governments can’t deal with rising costs of over population of impoverished people with nothing to do for recreation other than make more people.
If we are to avoid the lemming’s fate, the first thing we have to do is stop seeing ourselves as different because we have different color skins. I know that’s difficult for a lot of us, but the scientific fact is, there is no difference. The second thing we have to do is modify our position on birth control. That’s an even harder nut to crack for many of us. That time I spoke of in my youth when things were not perfect, but there was general harmony and good will among people, was a time when there was a healthy balance between science and religion. Religion was more personal. People didn’t flaunt their religion; they lived it. If a person was a Christian, he/she lived his/her life as much as possible the way Jesus lived his, without constantly judging and condemning others for their beliefs or lack of belief. The percentage of people attending church in those days dwarfed the percentage attending today. The church didn’t see science as the antithesis of religion as seems to be the case today. If we are to survive our own follies, we will have to find the optimal balance of science and religion.