On the desperation of white male nationalists
There is at work in the United States a fearful desperation. A long standing domination is being threatened by changing demographics. What before has prevailed to set the tone of power and politics in America is beginning to erode. And with its imminent passing goes also historical privileges known before only to the descendants of white Europeans and in large part to the most wealthy and established patriarchal class.
This desperation is now seen more and more clearly in the blatant manner in which electoral campaigns are conducted. Eager to hold on to their control of the halls of power certain politicians scramble to use strikingly obvious lies and distortions in an attempt to discredit their more amiable opponents. Tampering with district boundaries has become a common procedure for gaining advantage in vote proceedings. Efforts to discourage and outright deny voting rights to members of minority communities has dramatically increased. Such tactics include changing rules pertaining to proper voter registration and creating more rigid requirements for valid personal identification before individuals are allowed to cast a ballot. Also voting locations are often set up in places difficult to reach by working people and those with less options for travel. These incidents are intended to make voting easier for white citizens more likely to advance their privileged agenda and more difficult for persons likely to support candidates who favor inclusivity and equality.
This desperation madness however is doomed to failure, if not soon then certainly before too long. Time for white males to dominate politics is fast coming to an end. The manner in which white privilege has worked to benefit a chosen segment of the population will soon be rescinded. Those politicians who before have made laws that serve the wealthy and prestigious while attempting to deny services to the poor and the ill will be replaced with politicians who advocate for public education and social welfare and universal healthcare.
Even now the white male category of influence within the population of the United States is in the minority. As time passes this dwindling influence will become even less significant. Other groups of citizens continue to increase their numbers. Eventually they will recognize and be able to resist the imitation and injustices that have been directed toward them to keep them away from polling locations. These disenfranchised citizens already have the power to put their own choice of candidates into elected offices. Soon they will find a way to work together and to successfully express their preferences. Then the tables will be turned on the white male nationalists.
Perhaps this is the reason that white male nationalists are so desperate and try any method at their disposal to hold on to the political power they have for so long maintained. Likely these white male nationalists fear that when those who they have oppressed before become persons in the positions of political power then these new politicians will make laws that will work to oppress those no longer in charge of governing. This scenario is possible. History does demonstrate that often persons who before have been oppressed have themselves become the oppressors after they have been able to gain the advantage.
Yet it is also true that members of minority communities have proven to be the most caring and hospitable and generous people in our nation. These persons who lack extensive wealth and abundant possessions are far more likely to share more proportionately what they have with others who suffer from lack of support than rich and powerful persons are. It may be that when they gain political power as they are certain to do, then they will remember what it was like to be denied a place at the banquet table and they will not let it happen any longer to anyone, regardless of how they may have acted in the past.
At least it will be a drastic improvement for most citizens when those before denied power can choose how they will govern the nation.
On the Jesus of the evangelical Christian community
I have become fascinated by several groups of people who have rallied around Donald Trump. These persons are energized by the policies and behaviors and speech of Donald Trump. They find great pleasure and encouragement by the things that Donald Trump says and does and hopes to achieve.
There is a segment of the population that maintains and cultivates the concept of the superiority of the white race. These people work to resist any equal respect and inclusion for persons of color. Their activities include promoting agendas that keep persons of color from benefiting from the services and opportunities they themselves enjoy by their status derived from the historically manifested fortune of white privilege. These people find in Donald Trump a voice and example who promotes their aspirations.
Then there is the segment of the population equally zealous to affirm and be grateful for the presence of Donald Trump. They are distinguished not by a defense of white supremacy but by their claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, himself a person of color. They proudly refer to themselves as evangelical Christians, individuals who are devoted to live out their lives according to the witness of Jesus. I have observed their actions and their arguments for why Donald Trump is someone who can advance their interests. And I have wondered what is the character they recognize in Jesus that generates this kind of admiration in them for Donald Trump.
Taking their own witness as a testimony I have come to an understanding of the manner in which Jesus lived out his life. Here is what I have learned about Jesus from watching and listening to these Christians.
Jesus often taught and worshiped in temples and synagogues and also talked with crowds on mountain sides. He spoke passionately about how he loved God with all of his being and even claimed that he loved his neighbor as himself. Yet when away from these places his behaviors were very different. Jesus in no way demonstrated that he loved his neighbor as himself.
Jesus admired the very pious religious people who prayed in public and adorned themselves with religious vestments and were careful to perform every ritual and orthodox procedure, never omitting a single even slight gesture or devotion. Jesus preferred to be in the company of rich people and valued the way in which they maneuvered to increase their wealth and to avoid paying a fair wage to those who worked for them.
Jesus was careful not to provide help for persons who were ill and handicapped. He did not want to come in contact with people who were sick and blind and lame. He did not want to find a way to cure them. He would hide himself when sick and handicapped people were brought to places where he was staying. Jesus did not care about the poor, those persons in the community who struggled to find a way to provide for themselves and their families. He would not associate with them or share any of his possession with them. Jesus would never be seen in the company of sinners, people who disobeyed the law and who were condemned by religious authorities. He would not eat with them or even have a conversation with them. Jesus had little respect for women and would not intervene on their behalf when they were accused of doing something wrong. He sided with the accusers when a woman was brought before him for punishment. Jesus was fearful of foreigners and sought to protect himself from them. He would not get close to them and never tried to support and encourage them. If he met foreigners while traveling he would turn away and avoid engaging with them. He maintained that they should return to their places of birth even if such places were dangerous and hostile to them. And Jesus sought to find ways of establishing rules that would make the way harder for any of these kinds of people. He would side with people who told lies that made others afraid of individuals who were different and who sought to find a safe and comfortable life for themselves and their families. Jesus seemed to believe that the plight of desperate people was a judgement from God that he should not interfere with. He believed they were bad people and should be punished because of their transgressions and misfortunes.
Such is the character of the one who the evangelical Christian community follows as their savior. And it is true that Donald Trump closely resembles this kind of individual.
…I can see the appeal.
On choosing personal behaviors
As each one of us journeys through the earth we are exposed to many opinions and concepts about how best to manage our behaviors. We observe the manner in which others behave. The longer we remain on this journey the better we can evaluate and test the validity of these assertions and the actions of others. Those percepts and observations that endure in our judgement of what is good and right become basic tenets, guidance that is both wise and practical to give counsel for composing our personal behaviors.
After more than 70 years of experience and discovery along my own journey several of these insightful observations made by persons past and present with whom I had association continue to stir within me. One of these precepts is the teaching urging personal behaviors that treat others in the way you want them to treat you. Another is the importance of honoring the witness of conscience in making choices that impact the circumstance of others. Another is to remember that often when we take the easy way out we make the way harder for someone else.
However more recently there is one axiom that increasingly commands my attention. I do not remember when I was exposed to this advice yet I know it was long ago, somewhere in my younger more formative years. The advice I collected then is this: when making a choice about personal behavior consider what the world would be like if everyone else chose to behave in this same way.
The more I reflect on this bit of wisdom the more I appreciate the value of it. This counsel immediately focuses our attention on the consequences of our actions. It also describes how every human action works to compose the character of the world around us. And it reminds us of the importance of recognizing how the things we choose to do impact the situation that others inhabit.
Everyone of us knows the kind of circumstance we wish for, both for ourself and for those we care about. We all know of the possibility of being deceived, of being tricked, conned, cheated. We all know we can be lied to, defrauded, taken advantage of because of our ignorance. We all know the behavior of others can make out lives either healthier and more secure or they can make our lives miserable and unsafe, and there is nothing we can do to change that.
Probably like me you know some people who do not care about what is good and right. Maybe you too know people who do not care about nurturing community. Maybe you know people who do not care about respecting the presence of others who live in the earth with them. Maybe you know people who only care about them self. If so then you see how while causing pain and suffering for others they benefit from the care and concern extended to them by people who choose to live in community.
Resist behaving like selfish people even when you are being harmed by them. Pursuing what is good and right is the only human behavior that really matters for redeeming the time you live in the earth.
Before making a choice of personal behavior considering what the world would be like if everyone else made this same choice is indeed a concern worthy of our time and a beneficial offering for our time.
Maybe sometime there will come a moment when all of us will understand this.
A call for the global isolation of Donald Trump
The attitude and behaviors of Donald Trump are dangerous to the vast majority of people who live in the earth. The nature of Donald Trump to threaten the survival of those who do not acquiesce to his judgement of what should be done displays egotistical arrogance and assumed dominance. Donald Trump believes that negotiation means using any power available to him to push and shove others toward his vision of how his life can be more comfortable and secure. Donald Trump acts as though he is the most important person alive, therefore his desires must be affirmed by all others.
Because of these conditions I urge the global community to isolate Donald Trump that he might learn about interdependence, about the enormous extent to which his well being inherently depends on the well being of the earth.
There is an essential question that faces all of us when we contemplate initiating actions that will affect our relationship with others who live in the earth with us: Are all persons born into the earth of equal value? Behind our answer to this question lies a more fundamental assessment: Are persons predetermined before their birth to occupy specific places and positions while living in the earth?
Each one of us must decide upon an answer to these questions. And more precisely, our answer to the second question will determine how we will answer the first one.
If we choose to believe that individuals are predetermined to occupy specific places and positions while they live in the earth, then it will naturally follow for us to believe that all persons born into the earth are not of equal value. Those persons occupying places and positions of privilege and power and prestige will believe they are more valuable than those who occupy places and positions of less attractive circumstances. This belief will be exposed by how these powerful and influential people compose the rules that will structure society and affect global community.
History reflects the reality that persons in places and positions of privilege and power and prestige believe they are more important than those persons who occupy less attractive places and positions. These extensively blessed superior people have persisted to perform actions that would ensure they remained in places and positions of privilege and power and prestige. And as a result this conciliatory consequence occurred: persons in places and positions of privilege and power and prestige maneuvered in ways that would enable them to maintain the advantage while persons in places and positions that were less attractive passionately sought to gain the advantage. Thus strife and conflict ensued.
Whether we like it or not we live in a limited space, on the planet Earth. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are part of a global community. If we pay attention to our circumstance, we know that what is happening in any part of the earth will eventually impact life elsewhere on the planet. If we choose to believe that some people are more important than others then the global community will be fragmented and caused to live in turmoil. Fear and suspicion will dictate how we relate to others. We can try to insulate ourselves, to ensure we are protected from the pain and distress of others but eventually we will be affected. Strife and conflict will continue.
Donald Trump does not believe that all persons who live in the earth are of equal value. Donald Trump believes that people in places and positions of privilege and power and prestige are more important than those who occupy places and positions that are less attractive. Unfortunately Donald Trump occupies a place and position of great privilege and power and prestige. Unfortunately his processes work to further fragment the global community and exasperate the turmoil that exists in the earth. More and more weapons are being promoted, more and more detachment is being pursued, more and more suffering is being inflicted. No attempt to promote resolution, no attempt to build community, no attempt to relieve suffering. His is clearly an elitist agenda. This is the world Donald Trump is composing.
No one nation can effectively and successfully repress Donald Trump. However there is in the global community the means to isolate Donald Trump. When cooperating together the nation states can dismiss the threats and bullying of Donald Trump. Together the nations states can refuse to give in to the negotiating tactics of Donald Trump. Behind his back all the nation states confess the character of his egotistical orientation, his assumed dominance, his manipulative pressuring, yet no nation state alone can dismiss him.
Only Palestine and Iran have demonstrated the disciplined courage to oppose the bullying behaviors of dogface Donald. These two nation states refuse to be pushed around by his arrogant presence, undaunted by the fear of the consequences of the actions the President of the United States can execute.
Please do not allow these two subjects to struggle alone. Support Palestine as they strive for their independent sovereignty under international law. Support Iran as they struggle to find the capacity to fulfill their commitment to the Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding nuclear productivity.
Now is the precise and relevant time for the nations states to generate the discipline and courage to forcefully and publicly oppose Donald Trump. What cannot be accomplished by one or a few can be achieved by many. If nation states resolve together to preserve their integrity, to adamantly insist on their rightful manner to protect their sovereignty and work together to eliminate the burdens that can be imposed by Donald Trump, then Donald Trump will be neutralized.
Let it be so.
On the dynamic composed by contentment
One of the mysteries of human life in the earth is the origin of extreme responses a person senses in relationship to other entities present in the universe, more specifically the sensations that result from interactions with other humans. The intensity of these sensations can be profoundly striking, and in certain circumstances even incapacitating. I am thinking in particular about sensations that arise from the attraction and pleasure that is created because of the company of one who is the source of aroused affection.
I remember an incident that occurred while I was in college, when I was not yet 20 years of age. I had earlier met a woman who had brought forth in me the very height of the measure of delight I could ever imagine. She was the representation of beauty in all of her dimensions. Yet there was an inner presence which accompanied her that was the reason for the overwhelming attraction I felt when near to her, an attraction that was stimulated in me just by my memory of her. When we were in the same vicinity I felt awkward, unsure of my speech and behavior, and when we were close in conversation I even trembled in my spirit and probably noticeably in my body as well. Essentially she caused me to feel a degree of self-consciousness never before experienced, as though I was in the presence of one who was endowed with pure celestial essence.
On this occasion I was beginning to walk across an open field, a parade ground situated in the center of the campus transversed by sidewalks with a flagpole in its center encircled by a raised boundary about two feet high and five yards in diameter with flowers and other vegetation growing inside. As I started walking from the student center to the other side of the field I saw who appeared to me to be the woman to whom I was so greatly attentive. She was departing the library far across the way. We were alone in the entire open field. I soon realized that the paths we were taking would result in us meeting in the center of the field near the flagpole. Immediately I begin to feel congested. My heart began to race. The closer we moved to each other the more pronounced I felt the enormous pounding in my chest. The contractions of my heart came to be very painful. I actually believed my heart might burst as has happened for some persons in situations of intense excitement.
When the woman came closer I realized that she was not the person who I had thought her to be. Yet the singular belief that I was going to be meeting her, that we would be together alone in the center of this field was enough to cause this extreme reaction within me. As I reached the flagpole I had to stop and sit awhile, to recover my composure. I was literally overcome by this event.
I have thought about this experience many times and it always causes me to wonder what had happened to make it possible, what operation was at work inside me to evoke such a stimulating reaction. And it prompts me to reflect more distinctively on the essence of the reason why this kind of experience is a manifestation of our nature as humans.
All individuals know this sensation, however explaining its origin has eluded philosophers for ages. Yet the challenge has not quelled the advancement of various speculations in an attempt to satisfy human curiosity. Some persons maintain that this attraction in all its measures of intensity can be reduced to the natural urge for persons to fulfill their sexual appetite. Others venture to describe the mysterious attraction to another person as a consequence of their consciousness having earlier been incarnated in a form in which they were fundamentally associated with a form that is represented by the present object of their affection. Still others suggest that the special appeal that arises when encountering another uniquely stimulating individual results from an unconscious inner recognition of a foundational compatibility and synchronization of a spiritual rhythm, a phenomenon most often identified as the internal awareness of having met a soulmate.
Whatever the accurate explanation for this experience may be the consequences of it have an enormous influence on the way we choose to live our lives in the earth. Because this experience produces such profound pleasure there is an incessant desire to have it extended or at the very least to have it repeated. Every vaguely familiar sensation is automatically, instinctively measured by the one that has been the most impressive. All those that fail to measure up to the highest level of intensity previously experienced can be appreciated yet they can never bring the ultimate sensation, the contentment that before was definitively discovered in what previously occurred. Experiencing this complete satisfaction–contentment–is the foundational quest of the human soul.
The reach for contentment may be the best explanation for the reason that extreme sensations arise in humans when responding to others who create such an intense response. Whatever the reason for its anticipation, contentment is the goal of the human pursuit. Contentment is the acquisition of the total measure of fulfillment brought into being by a relationship that has mysteriously evoked surpassing intense affection.
The occasion that suggests the experience of contentment might be possible for an individual is a reason for the creation of an intense emotional response to another person, …maybe the only reason.
On the character of unregulated aspiration
We have all heard this open-ended, unqualified formula for accomplishing some objective: the end justifies the means. Just what does this formula entail?
First and most obvious, the guiding criteria of ‘the end justifies the means’ sets no boundaries. It contains no restrictions, no limitations about conditions that should be imposed in the process of pursuing some aspiration. Whatever can be done, whatever action can be taken to advance the prospects of being successful, however base and immoral, all of these options are completely acceptable. Nothing is established to evaluate the appropriateness or the rightness of the activity. Everything conceivable is within the circle of behaviors that may be chosen.
This foundational posturing declares that the most significant issue present in the consciousness of the individual setting this agenda is the singular objective being pursued. Nothing else matters. No consideration of how chosen behaviors might contradict some internal value measurement matters. No effort to abide by any law or ethical standard matters. No regard for how others might judge the action matters. No concern for what consequences might result from the action matters. No feeling of how this behavior might create any future personal guilt or remorse matters. No consideration for how the action might affect others matters. One thing matters: “What can I get away with doing in my quest to accomplish this objective. Other external tangible matters might limit my activity but nothing in my personal perspective will do so.”
The second factor that this formula exposes is the fact that the person adopting this position is totally selfish, entirely self-absorbed. This person cares nothing about how the pursuit will impact the community. This person cares nothing about how the pursuit will affect the future. It is okay if the behaviors used in the process of accomplishing the objective make life more difficult. It is okay if the behaviors used cause other people to suffer. It is okay if the behaviors used threaten the health of the environment. It is okay if the behaviors used create a dangerous situation for any one else.
The remaining consideration to contemplate relating to the formula that ‘the end justifies the means’ is the reality that this assessment subsequently self-destructs all manifestations of empathy and compassion. A cold, indifferent, callousness emerges that has no challenge to its dominance. What remains after asserting this unregulated formula is an isolated form without any conscience to accompany it and guide its relational interactions. What results is no longer human but now has morphed into an alien presence in the earth.
And the forces of nature will ultimately and absolutely prosecute it and prescribe a deafening sentence.
On the childish impulse to put me first
Each one of us knows the experience of being a child. We come into the earth totally dependent on others to care for us. Instinctively we have urges that prompt us to crave resources to fulfill our needs, basic support to enable us to be comfortable and to grow. This support includes having someone to nurture us, to shelter us from harsh weathers, to provide nourishing food, and to watch out for our safety. This basic support is vitally important for every human creature to have when they are a young child.
Our world is very small when we are very young. We are not aware of circumstances that could cause us to be in danger, circumstances that would threaten our survival. Our innate nature causes us to focus on what will make us content. When we have these essentials, we are comfortable. When we do not have just one of them we cry and pout and become obsessed with getting the thing we want, acting in ways that communicate our discomfort. Nothing else matters to us. Getting what we want is all that concerns us. Others around us may understand what specific support we are needing and sometimes they will not know what we are wanting. This behavior is normal for a child.
Eventually we grow beyond the boundaries of our childish environment. As we become older we realize we are not the only one in need of support. We also realize we have depended on others to help us survive, to make it possible for us to be able to live in the earth. At this place in our awareness, new sensations begin to arise within us.
When we were children we did not have the capacity to comprehend that all other human creatures need the same things in order to be content. Our singular intention was to get what we alone wanted. Being able to reason in way that could enable us to get what we needed as well as to enable everyone else to get what they needed was beyond our competence.
All of us who grow to adulthood naturally develop to have the capacity to recognize that all other human creatures need the same things in order to be content. All of us who grow to adulthood are able to reason in a way that could enable us to get what we need as well as to enable everyone else to get what they need. However all of us do not choose to reason in this way.
Chili Davis identifies a stark reality: Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.
The childish impulse to put me first innately determines our behavior as a baby. When we grow older we can choose to move beyond being controlled by this selfish ‘me first’ mentality.
On the shameful practice of accumulating wealth
I have wondered about the occasions when violence is used, more specifically about the link between violence and poverty. Why does a person resort to violence when confronting someone else? There are incidents where passion drives a violent attack and others when greed is involved. Then there are incidences that are far more frequent: when violence is used as an expression of desperation, an act of submission to the status quo when all hope has been lost, when there seems to be no other way to shout out. Regardless of the situation or occasion, the cause of violence in this case may eventually be traced back to a singular condition. Thinking about a way to identify the basic motivation for using violence when no hope remains takes us through a multitude of layers. Here is the path I have followed.
Violence is initiated when one party has a grievance against another party. On the surface there appear to be numerous conditions capable of producing a grievance. However one principle component is always present: the person who acts out in a violent way feels mistreated. Whether or not the reason for this feeling is understood by anyone else does not seem to matter. The only consistent factor is that a feeling of being mistreated causes the violent reaction. While many situations that cause someone to feel mistreated are resolved without resorting to violence, in all cases of hopelessness where violence is used the feeling of being mistreated seems always to be present, and the hopelessness is so overwhelming that it must be confessed, declared in a dramatic way.
The feeling of being mistreated arises when a person observes the patterns of life that others practice and realizes there are differences in the way people live. Some people have enormous resources allowing them to live comfortably while enjoying excessive luxuries. Some people follow a modest lifestyle yet they always seem to have enough wealth to fulfill all their basic needs. Some people struggle from day to day, never able to be assured they will have enough resources to get them through the next month or even the next week. The need to find just $100 extra creates an emergency for them. They have no idea where $100 will come from.
Across the globe there is clear evidence of a drastic inequality in the distribution of wealth. Knowing this can cause someone to feel mistreated if they are in the company of those who have limited resources, persons who are unsure about being able to support themselves and their families in the future. When a person compares the standards of living practiced by different persons a feeling of being mistreated will arise for people who struggle to make their way safely and comfortably. When they see others living carefree and surrounded by conveniences such a disparity causes them to feel they are not being treated fairly.
Inequality in the distribution of wealth enables some persons to live with abundant resources while others live in poverty. Most persons who have no hope for their future and act out toward another person with violence live in the condition of poverty. Because of this discrepancy combined with the lack of any indication their situation will improve causes individuals to loose hope in the future. The thought of a continued experience of being without the comforts and conveniences that others enjoy results in a feeling of being mistreated. And violence becomes a way to express this outrage.
Inequality in the distribution of wealth is neither the ultimate reason that feelings of being mistreated are produced nor is it the root cause for an individual to choose violence as a way to express their frustration of being caught up in an inescapable cycle of despair. Inequality in the distribution of wealth results from bigotry closely resembling racial discrimination, a discrimination that results from ingratitude for being economically secure. When a category of persons feel they are superior to others, that they deserve to live better than others, that the condition of persons suffering from a lack of basic support is of no consequence to them then resources are not shared equally.
Ingratitude is the basic reason why wealth is accumulated, set aside for future use rather than being invested in the community. Wealth is power and that power has a capacity to create even more wealth. The end result is the inequity in the distribution of wealth grows even larger. Persons who control enormous wealth become even more wealthy while persons living in poverty become poorer. When a person realizes the wealthy are becoming more wealthy and fewer and fewer resources are within their reach then that person is caused to feel mistreated.
Such a condition can easily cause a person to loose hope that any positive change will be possible. Whenever this happens often violence is believed to be the most drastic way to communicate to others the feeling of being mistreated. Violence becomes a desperate means of shouting out: ‘I have no hope! I am suffering because of the consequences of your ingratitude!’
Using money to make money is a practice that perpetuates the self-serving agenda of the wealthy. This activity takes resources away from the community by moving them beyond the reach of persons who need them to experience a fulfilling life while living in the earth. Persons who use money to make money reduce the opportunities for the poor to become self-sufficient. Persons who use money to make money create desperate conditions for persons who are trying to make a life for themselves and their families. Persons who use money to make money are the singular cause for most of the violence that exists in the earth.
If rather than using money to make money persons would invest their excess resources in the community then most of the violence we live with would cease to exist. Rather than removing money from the community it could be used to provide education and health care and job training and safe housing. These assets would then be available to all persons giving everyone an equal chance to build a fulfilling self-sustaining life in the earth. And those persons unable to make a life for themselves would be taken care of by facilities and programs designed specifically to provide for what they need to live in comfort and safety.
Using money to make money violently assaults community because it is a selfish and decisive practice that makes the world much more perilous. There are numerous struggles already for persons searching to make a fulfilling life. The practice of accumulating wealth makes the possibility of doing so impossible for multitudes of people. And these impoverished people have a valid reason to be angry, to feel mistreated.
On gun regulation and the second amendment
“This is not the time to jump to some conclusion not knowing the full facts.” This is how Paul Ryan responded soon after the Feb 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, left 17 teenagers and teachers dead. Seriously? I was issued an AR-15 when supporting the Army’s 5th Special Forces in I Corps, Vietnam. This is an assault weapon designed for offense and defense on the battlefield where every soldier present is armed. It is not an item to carry on quiet city streets or in a collection of school supplies. If someone wants to carry an AR-15 then they can join the Army.
And the response of Donald Trump was equally remote and disconnected. He traveled to Parkland to praise the first responders and medical staff, a line very similar to the one he shared with victims of the recent storm that caused so much damage in Puerto Rico. Donald Trump believes school shootings are as inevitable as are natural disasters. Rather than working to find the causes of these tragedies and leading the nation to enact solutions that will make this kind of pain less likely for students and school staff in the future he lamely reported that it was good to have been prepared to treat those who will be injured. There was no mention of guns or death or any indication he could empathize with those hurting people who were suffering because of the loss of the individuals who had been killed—those who would not be able to pursue the dreams they had for their future lives in the earth.
Such responses by our national leadership is appalling. Just because this has been the routine reaction of governmental officials to school shootings in the past does not mean it is the only reaction possible. This reaction has worked for them before. They simply say a few words about how sad the situation is then wait until something else happens to overshadow the outrage the vast majority of the population is feeling, and expressing. It is not difficult to realize just who the national leadership is working to protect. It is not the students and their teachers. It is big business, resources for their re-election. In doing this they continue to put lives in danger.
So it will be instructive for us to look at the cause for the callous official pause that occurs when mass shootings take place in our country. The standard escape lies in an appeal to Amendment II in the Bill of Rights contained in our Constitution. It is as follows:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. December 15, 1791
See anything interesting about this statement? See anything interesting about the date it was ratified? There were 15 states in the United States at the beginning of 1792, surrounded to the south and north and west by territories not yet invaded. The nation was beginning to establish itself in what was piously referred to as ‘hostile surroundings.’ A 1792 federal law mandated every eligible man to purchase a military-style gun and ammunition for his service in the citizen militia ‘being necessary to the security of a free State.’ Therefore private citizens were directed to purchase government contracted weapons to ensure the state would remain free. These weapons were never intended to promote personal pursuits.
And what of these military weapons that were made available to citizens? What were they like?
A collection of rifles was produced under federal regulation now known as the ‘1792 contract rifle.’ This designation referred to a particular style rifle rather than to a specific weapon. Several gunsmiths agreed to manufacture rifles under this contract. These rifles were characterized by being a flintlock rifle, .49 caliber with a 42-inch octagon barrel and a patchbox build into the stock. And it was muzzle loaded.
I do not believe anyone would object to citizens owning a weapon like this today, even hanging it on a rack in the back window of a pickup truck, even carrying it in public, on a city street, behind a counter in a store, …anywhere really.
After all it is a right guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.
But wait a moment. Look again at the 2nd amendment. For what purpose was it proposed? ‘A well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free State.’ In all deference to the 2nd amendment the function of ensuring the security of a free state is presently performed by the National Guards. So does that mean the need in 1791 to include the 2nd amendment in the Bill of Rights no longer exists?
Think about it.
On the public perception of military service
Military service is applauded, celebrated as honorable for persons living in the United States of America. To be or to have been a part of the military establishment in any capacity distinctively sets an individual apart from other citizens. Active duty military personnel and veterans routinely receive special recognition and tangible benefits while they participate in the opportunities society provides. Being a part of the uniformed military community is perhaps the most commonly identifiable characteristic that distinguishes a person as being a true patriot, a servant of the country, a defender of freedom.
The designation of honor prevails without any discernible challenge of its merit with the exception of the conduct of soldiers who do not perform as they are directed. If a soldier refuses to obey an order or fails to accomplish a required activity only then is the service described as dishonorable. And someone whose service has been labeled dishonorable by the military community from then on lives with the stigma of having committed a serious transgression, a transgression comparable to having been a dangerous threat to the stability of the country.
With this public orientation in mind it is important to take a close look at the pattern of discrimination that undergirds the prestige assigned to accompany an individual who serves in our nation’s military institution. Behind the accolades and gratuities graciously applied to military servicepersons there lies a disturbing reality.
The essence of this disturbing reality evolves from the intention that motivates politicians and national officials to publicly offer such high regard for military service. Service in the military is considered to be an essential part of maintaining the security of the nation. These national leaders cannot imagine how the country would survive without the people who serve in the military and the equipment made available to them. These national leaders believe that without a military component the nation would certainly be the object of attack and doomed to destruction.
And why do they think this way? Having spent 26 years in the US military I have discovered the core cause for this extreme concern.
When young people ask about joining one of the military services, they are told the military is established to be an institution with the mission of defending the country against an attack from its enemies. A superior military defense is strategically important for this purpose to be assured. In the final analysis the military exists to kill people. Having the most effective capacity to kill people significantly affects the decision of another force to move offensively against the United States. If a group does proceed to mount an attack then the military forces can respond to defend the country with the full force of their power. These forces will kill as many of the enemy personnel and disengaged collateral civilians as necessary and destroy their resources which in turn will discourage any further assaults.
This seems to be a logical explanation for the purpose of having a military force, …until someone asks this crucial question: Why would any group want to attack the United States? Finding an answer to this question is the vital step to take in order to understand why politicians and national leaders believe a superior military force is so critically necessary.
When I entered military service the nation was waging war in Southeast Asia. I trusted the judgement of our national leadership. I volunteered to train as a pilot then asked for an assignment that would take me to Vietnam. Afterward I rotated back to the States and served as an instructor pilot, then as a missile launch officer. I separated from active duty to study theology then reentered the military and served the remainder of my career as a chaplain.
During my service as a chaplain I continued to complete professional military education courses. While a student in the most advanced course I learned that political leaders use the military forces for another purpose, one different from the published mission of defending the United States against attack.
The United States operates in many places in the international community. Businesses conduct activities in many parts of the world. Secret missions work to influence selective operations. Sometimes, very often actually, these activities of the United States offend the local people because the pursuits promoted are primarily designed to serve the interest of the United States. The interest of the local people is not considered to be important. When this happens the local people begin to resent the presence of the United States. Eventually this resentment morphs into resistance, and violence soon erupts as a way for local people to express what they see as an uninvited encroachment into their self-determination.
When violence occurs because of the self-serving behaviors of the United States in foreign lands, politicians use the military forces to subdue the resistance. Military forces work to impose a pre-determined solution, one that will ensure the United States is able to gain and maintain access to resources and conduct operations that are in the interest of the United States and are declared to be a matter of national security.
Now back to the question: Why would any group want to attack the United States? Groups who feel violated by the United States want to defend themselves against activities that undermine their sovereignty. Because they do not have a superior military presence to match the power of the United States and are geographically separated these distraught groups elect to cause whatever disruption that can be done in order to express their outrage. They increasingly conduct clandestine assaults often on unsuspecting targets. We call these actors ‘terrorists’ and try to eliminate them. Yet even with surpassing military power the kind of resentment that drives the activities of terrorists cannot be subdued by military force. Fighting this kind of battle is an endless cycle with no military victory possible.
So why do politicians and national leaders so much applaud the people who serve in the military? Why do they lavish such great regard for persons who wear a military uniform? Because they know more than the uninformed citizen what the United States is doing in the international community. They know of the unjust and deceptive ways in which the United States maneuvers to ensure that our national interest is promoted at the expense of the preferences of the local people.
People who serve in the military service are brave and courageous. They trust their national leaders and unit commanders. They put themselves in dangerous situations. They believe they are defending freedom. But these innocent individuals are actually enabling the practices of politicians and national leaders to support irresponsible behavior in the international community. People who join a military force do not have any control over what they are ordered to do. And if they refuse to obey an order they are dishonorably discharged and afterward have to endure humiliating consequences.
Politicians and national officials know that the behavior of the United States in the international community creates tension and causes hatred toward America. Yet they refuse to demand that our leaders refrain from promoting our self-serving agenda, one that deceives and disrespects others. These officials know this kind of government puts the lives of its citizens in danger. Yet instead of insisting on governmental reform, they devote unprecedented funds to increasing our military capability and making the option for military service as attractive to young Americans as possible.
Now is time to tell the true story. It is time to expose the hypocrisy behind giving such lavish praise to persons who serve in the military. It is time for citizens to unite and say we will not support the unjust behaviors of the United States in the international community. And we will no longer be content to be deceived and continue to send people into the military service so they can ensure our self-serving agenda in foreign lands will prevail.
Unless there is public condemnation of the current practice then nothing will change. Because of hostility and hatred toward the United States there will continue to be efforts generated to retaliate because of experienced violation.
Does military power protect people or is that the function of government?
I am distressfully distraught that in our so-called ‘modern era’ of human life in the earth the most successful politicians—persons who aspire to govern their communities—fall prey to the notion that people must continue acquiring more capable and elaborate mechanisms for national defense. The alarm from this limited and cowardly and barbaric concept is overwhelming. That so much energy and enterprise is consumed by the pursuit to obtain more powerful military equipment confesses to miss the foundational reality of being alive on a planet inhabited by others. This orientation creates a web of self-containment that seems to be inescapable.
Two interwoven issues drive the pursuit for superior defensive positioning. The first is the awareness that ‘others may be just as conniving and deceptive as you are.’ Knowing your own propensity for accomplishing all the actions that can be useful in maneuvering to gain and maintain advantage you will naturally be attentive to the reality that others may also be motivated to act in the same way. Because you cannot be absolutely certain what another person is thinking or if they are being truthful you will be suspicious and on guard when engaging with them. You will be prompted to distrust them and speculate about the hidden agenda they are promoting at your expense. You will see their presence in this way because you know it is the way you operate.
The second issue involved in the pursuit of acquiring more sophisticated military equipment is because the process of it is so economically rewarding. If you can convince your fellow patriots they are in danger of being attacked or deceived or manipulated in ways that will leave them disadvantaged then they will support your proposal that it is necessary to be the more powerful. Your followers will demand greater defensive capability which in turn will drive an increase in production and sales. Exporting this same philosophy will generate greater demand in the global market which you in turn can help to fulfill. When everyone is convinced they too must obtain increased military power to ensure their survival everyone will feel the need to do it because if they do not they will be too vulnerable.
This kind of reasoning may be practical and lucrative but it is not beneficial nor is it healthy. Continuing to build a more efficient defense only works to isolate, whether the action is by an individual or a nation. Building on the principle that we must defend ourselves misses the core fundamental principle of community relationship: proper government serves to protect people; military might is fashioned to kill people. When the focus is on military strength and not on proper government there can be no peaceful coexistence.
Politicians who continue to encourage massive military buildup actually work to distract people from realizing and pursuing the more important concern of establishing proper government. Military power is executed when proper government is absent. Military power is employed when proper government fails to perform its purpose. Military power is applied when proper government is compromised. However when proper government is present—government that serves to protect the people—then military power is reserved.
Government that aims to protect people deliberately engages in domestic affairs and in international relations. By conscious and determined speech and behaviors government that protects people nurtures communities with respectful indiscriminate provisions that serve everyone without prejudice, both domestic communities and international ones. Government that protects people does not show favoritism. Government that protects people does not practice deception to maneuver in ways that promote a self-serving agenda. Government that protects people does not use force in order to get something from someone else without paying a fair price for it.
When proper government is maintained then military power is regulated to its more qualifying secondary role. However when military power is mistakenly viewed as the way to protect people then proper government is subverted. In such a case the formula for preservation is reversed: instead of being poised to ensure proper government the prevailing ambition of politicians is to promote the military establishment.
In falling prey to this perverse understanding the politician betrays the community. Rather than protecting the people the politician is putting their lives in danger.
On the sanctity of life
I am both awed and confused by passionate expressions that applaud the sanctity of human life. Human life is not limited by national boundaries or sexual orientation or religious affiliation. Human life includes all persons living in the earth regardless of their position or capacity. The life of every individual who is included in any part of the global community represents the sacred presence of human being. To affirm and honor this reality is not only appropriate but it is also the right thing to do.
What confuses me about popular appeals to preserve the sanctity of life is that so many of the most passionate persons who promote it regulate the intensity of their feelings to focus on abortion as a procedure that threatens the sanctity of life. In this proceeding much effort is expended to discourage and even prevent abortion from being accomplished. To these persons abortion constitutes the supreme assault on the sanctity of life.
Abortion does end the process of human development. Whatever the purpose for or the reason that a specific abortion is pursued, the end result is to terminate the growth of a human embryo. If otherwise allowed to continue the fetus would develop naturally. Unless there were innate complications with the growth to childbirth a new human life would be delivered into the world.
It is at the point in time when a new life enters into the world where I become confused with the motivation of those who so devotedly renounce abortion. Want concerns me is that there seems to be no concern for what will happen to this new life after the child is born.
For many persons the task of taking care of a newborn child is an extremely difficult proceeding requiring resources beyond their reach. For these mothers it is a scary thought that ‘I am responsible for the care and nourishment and protection of a baby.’ No matter how much they would love and desire to have a child many persons are simply unable to provide all that is necessary to appropriately nurture a helpless and dependent baby. Because of her impoverished circumstance having a baby means essentially to sentence that new child to the same proverific condition that she must struggle with every hour of every day. This is a deeply disturbing concern for any would be mother.
So when an individual passionately protests against abortion should there also be an equal demand for services and resources to be made available to that newborn child? Does it not make sense that the call to bring a new life into the world because it is a sacred presence should also include a condition that the community ensure that this sacred life be taken care of, lovingly nourished and protected? Of course it does.
Yet where in the crowd of those who oppose abortion is there a single person who advocates for resources and provisions to be made available to the mother who has painfully chosen the alternative of abortion to the stark reality of bringing a newborn child into a desperate situation in which she has no hope for herself much less for another person she must provide for? If human life is so sacred then those who so passionately claim to honor it should also with equal passion be at work to protect and preserve human life and not abandon the mother when the baby is at its most helpless and vulnerable age.
And what about being equally concerned for the danger of death and injury caused by irresponsible gun owners? Or the reactionary approval for the use of military forces to engage in operations in the international community in circumstances that threaten access to resources the United States has determined to be a matter of national security when such operations produce suffering and death of persons, human persons, native to these areas? If someone believes that human life is so sacred should there also be an equally passionate demand that these kind of measures that threaten the sanctity of human life also be challenged? Of course there should be.
The thing that confuses me is that the same people who so passionately denounce abortion are the same people who are so much opposed to community services being made available to persons who struggle in desperate economic conditions and who are so much opposed to gun regulation and who are so much opposed to any critical analysis of the use of military operations in the international community. All these processes threaten human life in a measure equal to abortion.
To be opposed to abortion and neglect other conditions that equally threaten the sanctity of life is to selfishly and unsuccessfully try to deny both the personal feeling of being inadequate and the accompanying fear of not being good enough.
On being wise rather than being smart
Just because a thing can be done is not reason enough for the thing to be done. To proceed to accomplish something just because one has the advantage of putting into motion some action is both foolish and selfish. Such an act serves solely to advance the interest of the person whose power enables the action.
Many people believe it is smart to advance their interests regardless of how it affects persons whose lives will be impacted by the action. Such activity is often considered to be good business, successful management, shrewd direction. If the action results in increased economic standing or serves to make one’s situation more secure then that action qualifies to be distinguished as a smart move.
What if the action complicates the life of someone else? What if the action threatens the safety and security of a group of people? What if the action causes pain and suffering for others who have no means of resistance? When these or other similar consequences occur the decision to put an action in force may be described as being smart but it is not wise.
Wise decisions are characterized by a judgement that functions to guide behaviors so that they work to nurture relationships and build community across all obstacles that might be considered to be barriers or conditions that can be viewed as being reasons for causing divisions among people. In order for an action to qualify as being initiated by a wise decision, the intention of the action must be to honor and affirm the presence of all others who will be impacted by it.
Every individual recognizes they do not live a solitary existence. No one can live in the earth and be completely separated from other people. Even if a person lives alone in a remote location and provides for their own needs for survival what they do will influence others who will live in the earth long after they have died. The way in which someone attends to their environment will affect others who will come after them to live in that same space.
Whenever someone acts as though their interests are the only consideration involved in a decision their action reflects both arrogance and ignorance. Such a person does not care about the consequences of the action for others outside their circle of interest. If their desires can be served by the activity then nothing else really matters to them. How the activity works to affect relationships and communities is not a necessary consideration.
Often decisions to take action result in creating a condition that threatens the security and safety of many others. Whenever one segment of society is empowered and sustained at the expense of another segment of society then the ability to nurture relationship and build community is diminished. Whenever one segment of society is provided with advanced technology while another segment is ignored then a division of people occurs. Whenever one segment of society is given stronger more effective weaponry and another segment is left with an inferior defensive capacity then fear and suspicion ensues. All of these situations create unrest and discord, issues that not only will disrupt any effort to bring peace and harmony to the world community but also will eventually generate strife and confrontation.
Smart decisions may be economically beneficial and make life more comfortable for some people yet unless they include a provision for others to also be benefited the action will prove to be shortsighted and dangerous. Smart leaders maneuver to increase profits and prestige; wise leaders make decisions that work to bring people and nations together.
Being smart is easier and less courageous than being wise because one does not need to look very far. Taking care of oneself is less challenging and demanding than taking care of the community. Yet the consequence of this selfish behavior is isolation and eventual rejection. Only wise leaders survive the judgement of time. Smart leaders must rely on lies and threats to stay in power, and time will sentence them to obscurity and prove them to have been primitive fools.
To the poor and people of color
It is not that Donald Trump and his cronies just do not care about you, they actively work for your demise—they want you to die. Those who live in poverty and are not white already know they have been abandoned and you too will soon learn the same. If you do not earn at least $50,000 each year then you are not able to contribute to increase the affluence of the already wealthy. Rather you are a drain on the economy. In Donald Trump’s America you do not matter, you are in the way of improved prosperity for the richest few.
Millions of citizens of the United States, a vast majority of us, earn less than $50,000 every year. With this money we struggle to pay for basic living expenses, cover emergency demands, and pay taxes. If there is anything left over we must choose whether to pay for health insurance or put it away for our children that they might be able to choose the option of graduating from college or the university instead of having to take an unfulfilling menial job or join one of the military services in a desperate attempt to learn a marketable skill.
The measures that have been promoted by Donald Trump are designed to make your life harder which will in turn make it more likely that you will become ill. If you do not have health insurance and you need major health care beyond immunizations and treatments for injuries, you will of course be admitted to the emergency room if you can find one that has so far not been forced to close. Then afterward you will be hounded by debt collectors who will eagerly work to garnish your wages and encroach upon the funds you have depended upon to provide the resources necessary for your family to survive. You will become depressed, under nourished, and further diminished by an increasingly toxic environment by which your condition will be accelerated toward that incapacitated state for which Donald Trump is constructing for you, making it more and more likely that you will die sooner.
If you are religious and you chose to vote for Donald Trump, if you have not yet you soon will be disappointed in your perceived notion that he has concern for your situation. If you identify more with Donald Trump than you do with your fellow low and middle class laborers then you have already given away any chance to improve your welfare. Your best bet is to pray for the rapture and hope not only that it is as certain as you have been told by religious zealots who look beyond the affairs of this world for the hope of the coming Messianic age but also that you will qualify to be rescued as one of the chosen few.
In a capitalistic economic system like the predominant one active in the United States there is neither any limit to accumulation of wealth nor is there any check for greed. Some will passionately argue that (theoretically) if businesses and corporations are able to keep more of their earnings they will in turn pass these along to their employees in the form of increased wages and added benefits. However historically that has not happened.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. In theory increased earnings will be passed down to employees but in practice that usually does not happen. When business owners and corporate executives acquire increased earnings they most often choose to upgrade their equipment and facilities then pass surplus earnings along to boards of directors and share holders. That is why without any corrective measure in place the wealthy become more and more wealthy and the poor and low and middle classes become poorer and poorer. If you are at all informed about the trend in American society you already know that the wealthy are becoming more and more wealthy and the poor and low and middle classes are becoming poorer and poorer. End of discussion.
Socialism is a dirty word in the United States. It has been made to be as abhorrent a word as communism. A certain segment of our society rebels against providing community assistance to persons who struggle to survive, except maybe for veterans who have been promised access to a socialized health care system to receive care they deserve as warriors who have been manipulated to protect our
freedom access to international resources we have selfishly concluded are necessary for preserving our affluent way of life.
Just the action of making provisions available to others for meeting basic needs causes many of our citizens to cringe with disgust. They believe that everyone should be able to make it without any outside help. Yet it is these very citizens who loose sight of the fact that they have inherited an abundance of wealth from others who have gone on before them. Whether because of white privilege or social standing or economic positioning they have been given an advantage which they did not earn.
No one is able to start with nothing or from circumstances that restrict them escaping the burden of festering poverty and make a successful economic way for themselves and their family. It is the citizens who do not acknowledge the help they have before received who make the most passionate arguments against community services being provided for those who are enduring hardship often because of circumstances beyond human control.
Donald Trump is selfish and without compassion because he is afraid of loosing the advantage. He has always been superior and he intends to remain superior. And as long as he is permitted to bully his way along he will work to make this reality certain at the expense of the poor and people of color. What he does not understand is that he needs the rest of us to keep him wealthy. There is where we have a chance to change the equation.
Use care in what you buy and from whom you trade. Robust consumption fuels the present inequitable system. By reducing consumption and living modestly common people like you and me can amass power enough to impact the present capitalistic enterprise that is now out of control. We can reinstate a government of the people, by the people, for the people. I remember reading something like this somewhere before, and from a republican president no less.
Jesus was no christian
Anyone who is not enraged by the plight of the suffering refugees and the discriminate manner in which people of color are inequitably processed in the policing system and judicial institution in the USA, such a person is not worthy of claiming to be a christian. Anyone who does not have sympathy for and actively engages on behalf of the stranger and the poor is not a follower of the prophet from Nazareth. And no amount of reciting slogans such as ‘Jesus is Lord’ and ‘Jesus died for me on a cross’ will secure for them the benefits of the saving prescription offered by the lowly prophet.
The discrepancy is appalling when the life and teaching of Jesus and his concept of the abundant life is compared with the character of persons who claim he is their lord while discounting the welfare of others in order to secure the assurance that their circumstance will continue to have an advantage. Then to recite that their privileged standing in society is derived from a blessing, a consequence of their unyielding faith in the son of God, while the disadvantaged consequence of others results from a divine judgement, is a testimony that reeks of arrogance and hypocrisy.
Where in this scenario is the compassion, the humility, the empathy for those who suffer and are denied the nurturing provisions of the community? These characteristics define the person of Jesus. How has it come to be that those who call themselves christian are often the persons most likely to resent policies and programs that serve the needs of the stranger and the poor? How can such a contrasting witness from that embodied in the life of Jesus be considered to be the profile of a serious disciple? Is there no shame, no hint of embarrassment, not even a suggestion of remorse?
The contrast in the witness of Jesus and those who deny, even work to prevent aid being given to the stranger and the poor presents as a sign that these so called christians choose to be the judge rather than the servant. Do these superficial followers even know who Jesus is? No they do not. They only know what they have been told about being christian. And they have been told a lie. As genuine as the faith may be that created it, it is still a lie. These artificial disciples do not have the courage to think for themselves, to do the research, to contemplate what following Jesus is all about, what having faith in him really means. They are satisfied in their ignorance; they are content to be what they are told to be by some impersonator who claims to have insight and understanding, but has no wisdom.
Whose mistake is this, the want to be disciple or the counterfeit religious expert? The discrepancy is too obvious to be missed. How absurd, how undeniably audacious that one so removed from the example of Jesus can be labeled a christian. Unless being a christian has nothing to do with being like Jesus. Making christians has become a clever way to manipulate others to follow a sinister selfishly conceived agenda.
To one who is serious about knowing Jesus, there can be no doubt about what is important to him. The hypocrisy of claiming to follow Jesus and only wanting to be labeled a christian is too blatantly pronounced. Just being a christian is only pretending to be saved.
…All who do not wonder are lost.
On the cause of racial resentment
When I travel the back roads through several states as I ride to my farm in Mississippi I am always challenged to understand the reason for the many racial resentments that I see. There appears to be a trend in the increased prevalence of racially motivated displays in areas most populated by lower income white residents. Many of these persons might intentionally choose occupations and vocations that serve and minister to others, careers that do not receive large salaries yet careers that are worthy and valuable and require considerable commitment. As a result persons who make this choice do so with the understanding they will not accumulate large financial assets but that is not their ultimate goal. They want to live a rewarding and self-satisfying life so they live within a budget that makes it possible for them to work as they prefer.
What attracts me in this proceeding is that among such distinguished residents there appears to be an unusually large number of racists displays, symbols of racial slander and derogatory insinuation. This trend can also be seen in the collection of individuals who compose white supremacy groups and attend their gatherings. Generally these associations are more likely to compose persons of lower levels of income and education, persons who choose to live in patterns that provide less opportunity for them to be informed and aware of issues affecting the greater populations of people in the world community.
When I see these racially motivated symbols I am always caused to wonder about the reason why racial tensions seem heightened in this somewhat isolated community of white individuals. I have formulated an answer I believe could explain it.
Historically the white community in the United States has been positioned as being superior to all the others present in the country. This assumed merit has worked both consciously and unconsciously to give white citizens a preferred status. This exceptional standing comes to white persons without any maneuvering or accomplishment on their part. Individuals have this advantage simply because they are white. White privilege has become such an entrenched status that it is not even noticed by most white people. They proceed through their days receiving its benefits without even being aware of it.
In the recent past civil movements have occurred that cause the before established inequity of white privilege to now be magnified and consequently analyzed. More and more the reality of how white people function in society and how persons of color must accommodate white preference is being challenged. Such activities raise awareness that this historic preferred status assumed by white people is unjust and racially inequitable. Basic common human dignity demands that all persons be given equal access to the provisions of a society.
This observation suggests that the racial resentment evident in the behavior of white people of lower economic and educational levels can be explained as being a result of their resistance to this changing pattern in the larger society. More fundamentally their resentment is generated by a realization that many more persons of color are achieving greater economic and educational advancement than they have accomplished.
Before when white people were uncritically regarded as superior lower levels of income and education were not of so much concern. However in the new environment success in economics and educational advancement can be interpreted as indications of superiority. When persons of color make these advancements this action becomes an enormous threat to the egos of less secure white people. White persons can even begin to perceive that the discrepancy in their circumstance and that of advancing persons of color is a indication of their own diminished value and worth.
What is lost in this process is an awareness of the reality that in the past a discrepancy in income and educational advancement was a complication for persons of color. They lived under a kind of subjective judgement, a judgement that not only condemned them to an inferior status but also worked to justify white privilege. Because most people of color were poor and uneducated they were viewed as being less worthy and less valuable in the society. Now the table has turned and those who were last are beginning to arrive. And the change is hard for some white people to deal with, …especially for those who have previously measured their value and worth in relation to others.
The strongest force in the world
The recognition of atrocities committed by members of ISIL has caused all of us to consider what different kind of force could effectively counter their evil and wicked acts. Discriminate barbaric slaughter of men and boys combined with sexual exploitation of women and girls are horrifically traumatic behaviors that could neither be resisted nor suppressed. Only retaliation involving exceedingly violent assaults has been proven to combat and halt the activity of ISIL. Yet this retaliation too is violence, a force similar to that used by ISIL to accomplish its objectives.
So as most of you I have contemplated whether or not violence is the most powerful force in the world. The question put before us is this: Is there anything more powerful, a force having the capacity to accomplish an objective, is there any force stronger than the power inherent in violence?
Love is more powerful, you might propose. Yet in analysis the power of love does not match the power of violence to accomplish an objective. If the objective is to overcome, repress, overpower violence then love does not measure up to the challenge. Unconditional love directed toward an ISIL insurgent has no affect on their assault. While you are loving them they are preparing to cutoff the heads of your husband and your sons and rape you and your daughters. And they do it without hesitation.
Love is not proven to be a force more powerful than violence. Although love can accurately be described as the purest force of the soul love does not have the capacity to accomplish an objective as effectively as does violence. Unless the objective is to be nonviolent. Then love can succeed in providing that response. Yet love does not offset the harm, suffering, and death caused by violence. In order to remain in the world the action of love is not as strong as is violence in accomplishing an objective.
The only force that has the power to overcome the violent actions of humans is mortality. The fact that no one will live forever is certain proof that mortality is the strongest force at work in the world. You might reason that since the consequence of mortality is to end life in the earth, then its effect is much like that of choosing to love in a confrontation with violence. In this case both love and mortality bring an end to life. Yet the difference is that the result of love can be the loss of the life of the lover while the result of mortality is to end the life of everyone without discretion, both the life of the lover and the life of the aggressor. And the consequence of mortality does not depend upon violence.
Mortality is not a force under the control of humankind. It is a force independent of human engagement. Mortality is an activity of nature. Humans can and do cause the life of others to end but this act is not comparable to the end of life caused by mortality. The activity of mortality is one of mysterious origin. Mortality functions in a secret proceeding according to an unknown agenda. In certain cases the affect of mortality can be generally predicted as in cases involving accidents, illnesses, old age, and violent assaults, and in other cases its consequence comes without warning. There is no way to know for certain when mortality will succeed in bringing an end to life but the fact that the affect of mortality is certain cannot be disputed.
So it seems the only force we can identify that is more powerful than violence is mortality. It brings us little consolation to know this, yet there is in it at least some consolation. Regardless of how barbaric and entrenched violence can become knowing that violence will eventually be ended, overcome by mortality is reassuring. This truth may not make our lives easier, less painful, protected from the consequences of violence, but it can enable us to understand that violence is temporary. Mortality eventually will rescue us all.