Here, on Independence Day, contemplating the message coming from Trump and his MAGA followers, I wonder what does it mean to make America great again.
To make something great again we must know when it was great, what was great about it, and to whom.
The USA has a history of great progress and depths of horror, among them, slavery, the rape of natural resources, mass killing and of indigenous people, persecution of unionists and leftists, support of ruthless dictators and more.
What makes America great is our ability to look back and acknowledge our past so we as a people can grow from it. Our greatness is not about returning to some imaginary idealized past but to move forward, carefully progressing to promote the principles upon which the nation was founded. It's a work in progress.
As a nation we have overthrown slavery and continue to come together to correct the injustices of Jim Crow and other forms of racism, sexism and discrimination.
We overcame right wing conservative objections to defeat Fascism and find a workable economic system that blends government involvement and capitalism.
We are finally taking a stand to wipe away veneration of those who fought for the right to own slaves.
Was America great in the 1950's, with its McCarthyism, Jim Crow racism, Antisemitism, back alley abortions, women in their place at home, alcohol and pills? And with its great economy for many, world leadership and an education system and media that would liberate many from the shackles of narrow minded conservatism?
Was America great in the 1960's - 70's with war, protest, civil rights movement, acid, music, hippies, Eastern religions, confrontation, etc.?
I could go on, but the point is that great again implies great once before.
We need a shared definition of greatness, not one that seeks to return to the past, but to create a society founded on open hearts and open minds.
From homelife to business to government to politics, ignorance, greed and hatred are at work to set and keep in motion short sighted programs, projects and practices that lead to long term losses and suffering. And ignorance is the root cause – a pandemic.
I heard the acting head of U.S. Homeland Security deny that there is systemic racism in policing.
Perhaps he is not aware of the long tradition of honoring heroes of minorities oppression. Maybe he is ignorant of chronic patterns of abuse. Maybe he doesn’t understand what systemic means. Maybe he is pandering to racist supporters who think minorities are the cause of their powerlessness.
I have seen organizations dump billions of dollars into the trash because their leaders are short sighted and greedy.
At breakfast, I read about a "Lethal Brawl" between China and India over boundaries in a beautiful and remote Himalayan area. Are their leadership ignorant of how much more benefit would accrue from focusing on health, prosperity, and welfare rather than on killing to solidify an imaginary boundary? Or are they just fearful and greedy for power?
I see people, some influential and some not, blithely walking about without face masks while most experts say that wearing them helps to reduce the spread of virus. What are they thinking?
Thousands will violate social distancing guidelines to attend an indoor rallies and social events where the cost of entry is signing away the right to sue over contracting the COVID19 virus.
Nothing really new going on here. Denial, racism, greed, war mongering, disrespect for science and individual life have been with us since the beginning of recorded time.
Ignorance leading to greed and hatred is the root cause.
There is an antidote. Until individuals become aware that they are poisoned by ignorance, greed and hatred, there is little hope that they will use the antidote. Until they do, we will continue to go around and around in a cycle of unnecessary suffering, oppression, pollution and war.
Wake up! Support rational thinking that arises out of heartfelt compassion.
"Murder in Mississippi (Southern Justice)" painting by Norman Rockwell
Sometimes I think prophesies are aspirations rather than inspired visions of the future. Though, it is comforting to think that they are magical emanations of wisdom, destined to come true. Either way, what we do, say, and think matters.
A recent exchange on LinkedIn about President Trump was a sign of the times. Either-or divisiveness is on the rise when the world needs both-and thinking. In this exchange, people spoke out for and against Trump while others objected to the discussion of politics on LinkedIn, a business platform. Few sought to reach a meeting of the minds or understand why others thought as they did.
How can a racist system be fundamentally changed? What do abolish and defund mean? How well do abolishing and defunding contribute to that change?
We are living in "interesting times."
A pandemic rages. Like an earthquake, it creates waves to disrupt personal, economic, political and social lives. There is great uncertainty about what will happen.
As we navigate the COVID19 virus and its impact on the world, we are also facing a U.S. election that pits two philosophies of governance - authoritarianism and democracy - against one another. I am as concerned about the health of our government as about physical health and the health of the economy.
Politicians are engaged in a false conflict between socialism and capitalism. Extremists on both sides of the divide argue about isms and obscure the real issue of just how much government involvement in socioeconomic life is practical and wise.