Some confuse democracy with the freedom to do whatever they want regardless of its impact on society. But democracy is a concept that comes with responsibility and part of that responsibility is to do what is right for the greater good of humanity. Failure to respect that is a failure to understand the true meaning of democracy and will undoubtedly lead to its downfall.
The lust for power, greed, and corruption has been an intrinsic characteristic of human behavior since seemingly the beginning of our existence. While most of us make a conscious decision not to embrace these traits, there have always been those among us who do. Therefore it is logical to say that no single group should be considered immune to the possibility that one or more of these individuals lurks within its ranks. As such, no individual or individuals should be regarded as above reproach simply because of the group to which they belong. As citizens, it is our moral responsibility to foster an atmosphere that strengthens society’s capacity at large to point out corruption where it exists and build transparent and accountable systems of governance to ensure that the vulnerable are not taken advantage of. This is especially true when corruption is committed by those who are in power. In society, one would imagine as enlighten as we imagine ourselves to be that this would be an easy task, but alas, it is not. For as dangerous as those who abuse their power are, equally so are the individuals who persuade the masses with the narrative that to point out the corruption of any individual or group of individuals in a particular group is an attack on that group as a whole. While flawed, this narrative is nevertheless a useful tool in seizing on the average citizen’s prejudice and fears. When confronted with evidence of such corruption, they tend to dismiss it because it is an attack on and suggests an implausible degree of corruption within a group they respect as a whole.
It is fair to question the motive of the individuals who promote this narrative. It is apparent when one examines their talking points more closely that they are not concerned with society’s good but rather merely with promoting their agenda. But for what reason? What do these individuals have to gain? Is it fame, power, money, or something none of us could even begin to fathom? Whatever it may be as citizens, we must not allow their noise to cower us into silence. We must remain vigilant and continue to point out with the loudest voice possible corruption at every turn and our demand for justice. For if we do not, we doom society as a whole for as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote:
In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age. We are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.
It’s from a place of arrogance that a republic willingly embraces ignorance among it citizens and expects to thrive. It’s from that same place of arrogance that those citizens bestow leadership on and blindly follow those who peddle ignorance for their own personal gain and expects to survive.
I have always identified myself as African-American. I embrace who I am and where I come from. I proudly tell anyone who listens to me that despite being stripped of our culture, our language, our very identity and sold into slavery, despite Jim Crow, despite the KKK and other groups that hate us, despite the economic and social inequality thrust upon us and a host of other roadblocks African Americans are as responsible as any other people in the shaping of America into the country it is today. Unfortunately, like many African Americans, I have been called a nigger; I have had the barrel of a police officer’s gun pointed directly at my face for merely throwing a football in the backyard of a friend who happened to live in an all-white neighborhood. Despite never being in trouble with the law and not dressing like the mythical stereotypical “threatening African American male,” I’ve been stopped for driving while black, stopped and frisked for no apparent reason, and seen white women cross the street at night when they have noticed me. Yet my story is a little more complicated than just the color of my skin. Adopted, it wasn’t until my late 30s did I discover I was half white. A DNA test courtesy of 23 and me confirmed that my DNA profile is mostly Nigerian, twenty-seven percent, followed closely at twenty-four percent Ashkenazi Jew. So, for the KKK, I’m the jackpot, you know, lynch one get one free. In totality, I’m Fifty-four percent Sub-Saharan African and Forty-three percent European. The bottom line is that no matter who my DNA traces back to, I’m always going to be who I am. Anyone who knows me or meets me should judge me based on my character, not the color of my skin, what religion I practice, my sexual orientation, country of origin, or a host of other factors we have invented to separate ourselves from one another.
In the very beginning of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes, Charleston Heston’s character Colonel Taylor wonders if that throughout the thousands of galaxies, millions of stars, if there is only one, a speck of solar dust we call Earth that has been graced or cursed by human life. He wonders if man, the marvel of the universe, still makes war against his brother and lets his neighbor’s children starve. At the end of the movie, Dr. Zaius informs Taylor that he has always known about the man and that he must be a warlike animal who gives battles to everything around him, even himself. Science fiction from over fifty years ago or reality from today? Because as we are getting ready to usher in the third decade of the twenty-first century, we are still waging war against each other, even letting our neighbor’s children starve, and always looking to give battle to ourselves. The ending of Planet of the Apes doesn’t paint a bright future for humanity, YOU BLEW IT UP, and it does not take much to suspend belief very much to see our future playing out the same way.
In the last few years, America has seen a rise in hate crimes as a percentage of Americans increasingly feel threatened by anyone who does not look, sound, live or worship the way they do. It has always been a simmering, but now with an administration that tacitly endorses it, remember a group that walked the streets of Charlottesville chanting the Jew will never replace us was said to have good people, it seems ready to boil over.Now is a crucial time we as a people must guard against our prejudices and make no mistake no matter who we are; we all have some biases dwelling with-in us. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided. I have heard a few of my Jewish brothers and sisters. Dismissing Black Lives Matter with comments as if they don’t want to be targeted, they shouldn’t commit crimes. I have heard a few of my African brothers and sisters dismiss anti-Semitic violence as overblown, angrily wondering why bigotry is seemingly only deemed a problem when it happens to the Jews and not when it happens to the African American community. I have heard both groups go after one another over the nonsensical debate about what was worse, the holocaust or slavery. I have witnessed African Americans and Latinos who loath each other as they fight over the limited resources afforded to them because of inherent social and economic inequality. It is precisely these divides that play into the hand of those who preach racism and bigotry. Keep them divided and fighting among themselves, they say it makes it easier for us to keep them down. Yet despite all of this, I genuinely believe, as I have said many times in this blog as time goes by, those who preach racism, bigotry, sexism, judge people based on their religion, or are homophobic are a dying breed. We must not give them any life by falling into their trap of fighting among ourselves.
We are the voice of the many.
We see no difference in each other.
We judge each other for who we are and what we do.
We unite as one people.
We are America!
And we are gaining in strength every day, and it’s just a matter of time before we defeat you.
Message from above
Genesis 1:27 And God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
So I created humanity? Not Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, etc., but humanity as a whole and children, no matter what nationality label you put on them, are the most vulnerable and precious part of my creation. Hmmm, yet you still divide the beautiful resources of this unique planet I gave you instead of sharing it. You still believe it is morally correct to stand up and proclaim America or insert whatever country you want first while others suffer. Well, I see as a species, despite the gift of thought that I blessed you with, you still have much to learn. Let me give you a little head start; try proclaiming this -Humanity first
It is not an intrinsic part of human nature to be intolerant to another human because they differ in some way from you. Intolerance is taught as has been pointed out many times before if you watch two children of different ethnic groups play with each other you will see no sign of racism. These children do not see color and have no preconceived notion of who or what the other one represents other than a playmate. However as the children grow and their minds begin to expand they begin to both consciously and subconsciously pick up on the seemingly human culture of sticking with their own race because it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, Neighborhoods become ‘unintentionally” segregated, as children age their circle of friends becomes more and more homogenous. Job offers are made by identifying a person’s skin color, ethnic group, gender, religion, etc. rather than a person skill set. Intolerance leads to many things, the overwhelming majority bad, from workplace and housing discrimination, pay inequality, segregation, to an irrational fear of the unknown qualities of someone who shares the same basic human DNA structure but simply looks different, has a different belief system or was born on the opposite side of a man made line in the earth defining one country from another.
As we prepare to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this upcoming Monday one can only contemplate that he would no doubt be pleased with the many strides this country has made since his passing. The election of President Barack Obama a fulfillment of his dream that his four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. But as far as we have come as a nation we are still a long way from achieving the America that Dr. King gave his life for.
- Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 40 times more income than the bottom 90 percent.
- According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report, as of 2017 there were around 554,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In 2017, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, equating to 40 million Americans including more than 12 million children.
- African-American unemployment remains about twice as high as white unemployment. In 2018, black unemployment averaged 7.4 percent, compared to an average of 3.7 percent for whites.
- In every age group, current trends and policies are widening the ownership gap between African Americans and other groups. This gap reflects two fundamental factors: First, African American homeownership was particularly battered in the housing crisis, sharply reducing household wealth among African American families and dramatically lowering the long-term prospects for recovery for black homeownership at all ages. Second, African Americans continue to lag other races and ethnicities in employment, wages and income.
- According to FiveThirtyEight police officers are indicted in fewer than 1% of killings, but the indictment rate for civilians involved in a killing is 90%.
- According to the Guardian people who are African-American/Black are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while being unarmed compared to a Caucasian/White individual.
- According to Mapping Police Violence 69% of the victims of police brutality in the United States who are African-American/Black were suspected of a non-violent crime and were unarmed.
Sadly in 2019 a member Steven King a representative of Congress told the New York Times “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” and King is unfortunately not alone in his ideas. When asked to comment on King’s comments President Trump did not denounce them instead saying he hasn’t been following the story. As Dr. King so eloquently put it: “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” But this should come as no surprise as the President has consistently defended white nationalists; sought to exploit the census to dilute the political power of minority voters; described immigration as an infestation, warning that it was “changing the culture of Europe”; derided black and Latino immigrants as coming from “shithole countries,” while expressing a preference for immigrants from places like “Norway”; and generally portrayed nonwhite immigrants as little more than rapists, drug dealers, and murderers at every opportunity. All this to pander to a base in America that believes to “Make America Great” we need to harken back to a time before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Was even a thought in his parent’s minds.
However I remain hopeful. As I’ve said before I believe this country is headed in the right direction, ever so slowly. It is up to us as a people to raise our voices as one and drown out those who would have Dr. King’s dream become just that a dream and never a reality. We’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go. Let us not lose sight of the finish line and march to it together in brotherhood.
.The surest way to control the narrative, to ensure that the few can control the thoughts and choices of the many through clever slogans and sound bites, is to endeavor to keep the many ignorant. An uneducated society is the biggest threat to our democracy. The founding fathers understood this as Thomas Jefferson stated:
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Public education has been under attack by some for many years now. Last week, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration’s initial education budget would strip $10.6 billion from federal initiatives. Many of the cuts would disproportionately impact poorer school districts. Something the founding fathers would be dismayed at. John Jay was quoted as saying:
“ I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic, and as the weak and wicked are generally in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of that latter. Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people that means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate.”
And John Adams wrote:
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one-mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”
Turning a blind eye to the dismantling of public education is to, in essence, relinquish our democracy over to the few who will continue to deceive the masses to maintain their wealth and power.
There is nothing more ugly than division and hate for each other with the exception of those who promote it for personal gain. One day they will have to stand before the creator and justify the unjustifiable.
There is nothing more beautiful than unity and compassion for each other. Blessings shall be showered unto those of us who who practice it. For we all God’s children regardless of what we may look like.