Chapter 98 – Paying Our Dues

      I had a dear friend that I’d known since I was a child who passed away several years ago. He was actually a friend of my parents, but my relationship with him was always more man to man than child to adult. In the years just before he died, we used to talk politics a lot. He was of the opinion that if you look at the historical record, all nations and great civilizations of the world eventually fell as a result of the atrocities they committed to gain their dominance. He postulated than only by redressing and atoning for past transgressions against to those inside and outside of their nation-states could they have hoped to extend their reign. He called it, “paying their dues”. What he was really talking about was what today we call karma. Karma is a kind of metaphysical version of one of Newton’s Laws that says, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

       Our nation was founded on the radical concept that a government could seek to rule on behalf of the people instead of on behalf of the sovereign. It’s never been perfect, but throughout our history we have been moving closer and closer to that ideal. Because we are individuals, at some point, we are going to be frustrated by the government. It is at those times, we tend to spew out desperate, simplistic declarations about what the government should do or have done to it, in order to relieve our frustration from the perceived abuse from the government. However, as long as we remain committed to the ideals the country was founded on, eventually our frustration is moderated, as is the part of government at the root of the frustration, albeit slowly. In the end, we are relieved that we collectively did not act on the emotion we were experiencing in the moment and that society did not resort to the extremes we expressed in our frustration.

       Ronald Reagan was the first president in my lifetime to effectively exploit this natural tension between the governed and the government. His vilification of government and its agencies combined with his embracing of known segregationists are the seeds that grew into the enhancement of the white supremest traditions ingrained into today’s status quo that we are currently scrutinizing through debate, discussion and protests in recent months. As I’ve mentioned previously, most of the people I’ve associated with for the past forty years consider themselves to be conservative Republicans. As a result, I’ve heard a lot of the outrageous venting that you typically hear from frustrated conservative Republicans. I’ve heard things like, “Why don’t we just drop the [nuclear] bomb on them” and “We should just shoot the criminals on the street when we catch them and save the taxpayers the cost of locking them up” and, “why should I pay taxes for welfare for someone who had the same opportunity for success that I had”. And there’s the classic and ever popular, “Nixon should have burned the tapes” (the implication being, breaking the law is fine if it gets you what you want). As time has gone by, these irrational, but clearly understandable in the heat of frustration, statements and pronouncements, began to be said more and more frequently and more with the idea that maybe those things really should be a matter of policy, and not just the ranting of a frustrated conservative. It was inevitable that in 2016, a person was finally elected president who was willing to carry out such extremist and in many cases, racist objectives.

       America is at its crossroads of existence. It appears that the majority of Americans are ready to begin paying our dues for past transgressions and to share power with all the people of our country for the promise of emerging with the ability to lead the world as we fulfill the noblest aspirations of the people who founded this nation. At the same time, there are still millions of Americans who remain galvanized around the belief that America is a white country that exists for white people. Their leader, Donald Trump, is not so much the President of the United States as he is their general in a war to end democracy in favor of fascism. The tactics we see playing out in Portland and around the nation of Trump’s goons using presidential authority to kidnap and a possibly carry out renditions against law abiding American citizens exercising their Constitutional right of assembly, have the same objective as those of the young man who murdered 9 innocent black people in a church in Charleston South Carolina a few years ago. Trump and his supporters would like nothing better than to provoke an armed confrontation between his goons and the demonstrators and throw the country into total chaos, and clamoring for a Saddam Husain like dictator to restore order. It’s a tactic used by corrupt politicians for generations and was the subject of John Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. We cannot let this happen.

       I would suggest to any demonstrator that feels it necessary to be armed at a protest understand that if you do that, you are not there to protest. If anything, you are there to provide security against white supremist groups or any nongovernment entity bent on committing violence against the innocent. As such, there must be no chanting, no shouting at police and no banner carrying – only stoic silence with your head on a swivel to seek out possible attackers. This is a very serious and dangerous charge. I would hope anyone endeavoring to do that would have some police or military training, affording them the necessary discipline and rifle muzzle control to avoid accidents or unnecessary injury to others.

      It takes substantially more courage and a much greater sense of altruism to protest nonviolently. At the end of the day, if democracy prevails, it will be because of the brave, unarmed nonviolent protesters and not the people with guns. The brave unarmed people who protest in the face of enormous military like power are true patriots in every sense of the word and ultimately will gain as much respect and admiration by a grateful public as any soldier on a battle field in a foreign war.

        We must support them and reward their sacrifice by moving heaven and earth to cast our ballots in this upcoming election. If we fail to do it and allow Trump to steal the election, our country and the entire planet will suffer in a dystopian future that few of us can possibly imagine. The karmic debt that America owes is incompatible with continued health and prosperity. We must begin paying it by turning from our historic status quo, in favor of liberty and justice for all Americans and not just for white Americans.

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