Here’s what I want to say:
I was elated on election day, 2008 (It is also, by the way, the day I quit smoking, so that is two years now! And that’s a good thing). But I am not as election-elated today. Here’s why:
We are still at war. It was a war in which we should never have been involved in the first place, it has done inestimable damage to our reputation and future security, and it has been a massive seven year wide-open drain on our economy.
I voted for Obama because above all I wanted to see us out of that God-damned war. (Yes, I write what I mean to say. It is, in fact, a prayer). But we are still in that war. And thousands are dead, including hundreds of thousand of dead Iraqis.
Secondly, it is obvious that Wall Street and the corporate interests that put profit over people are still in charge. They have sent American jobs and factories overseas for years and have found a way to blame the black guy for today’s unemployment. That’s just a nice old American tradition, though. But I have seen NO administration doors slamming in any public way on the lobbyists. I wanted to see some bloody noses, and have seen none.
Third, why are we still noodling around with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell arguments? Good heavens, Obama administration, let it go!
Now, all that is off my chest; so here is my real concern about today’s elections:
I understand that in times of change, people react in fearful ways. The artificially contrived economic system that was built upon the necessity of an always increasing gross national product- well, that’s also called a Ponzi scheme and Madoff’s Ponzi tumble was but a first metaphor for the whole system’s inevitable tumble. Add economic change to population change, a lessening of academics, a lessening of physical health, and a exponentially increasing population, and people are scared to trembling of a future they can no longer accurately predict.
And many of us also see the problem beyond all of that which makes everything between it and us pale in comparison: the impending environmental collapse. Too many are learning all they want to know about the environment from BP television commercials where it’s always morning on the oil-free shores of sunny Louisiana and the people are just oh-so happy to have their oysters and their jobs back! BP is lying to us, y’know..just as everyone with a bridge to sell or a pill to push is lying to us nightly on the news, and hourly the rest of the day. Including our administration and including every politician whose mouth is moving! But those things still are not what is troubling me the most. This is:
The Jews in Europe were turned into rats by the propaganda machines of central Europe, beginning about a decade before the furnaces were lit. Step by step, they were transformed from upstanding citizens, friendly neighbors, and good friends, into die ratten: vermin with big noses and bigger appetites for the land,businesses and money of good Aryan-flavored Europeans. The Jews “stole jobs,” “carried diseases,” and, of course, weren’t Christian.
The Jewish people- men, women, and children- were dehumanized over time. They were made into ‘the Other.” No longer “one of us,” they were objectified, like rats. Today, different words are used , but the same dehumanization process is taking place: Illegal aliens they are called, welfare mothers (“with nice nails and pretty clothes!” a recent email pointed out), and some things called ‘anchor babies.‘ (Yes, I know there is some strange sociological meaning to the phrase; nevertheless, I think the real intent is to turn especially Hispanic infants into less-than-human infants.)
Here’s what I’m saying, in different ways: Those who have ears (in the biblical sense of that phrase) can hear that whole groups of people are being turned into scapegoats for the failures of a larger majority culture. The fact that our American economy is failing cannot possibly be blamed on our buying plastic clothes from China, plastic fish from Guatemala, and plastic beef from Argentina, can it? The fact that I buy tomatoes put in cans in the Philippines, instead of buying them from the Farmer’s market, or that I go to McDonald’s and put one pound of plastic and a little bit of fatty food on a credit card- well, that’s not my fault is it? “Of course it’s not,” we’re being told with more and more frequency from more and more quarters with less and less shrill voices. “It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS who DON”T KNOW ENGLISH and have too many ANCHOR BABIES and are DRUG MULES and will CUT YOUR HEAD OFF in the desert and who ARE DIRTY and have DISEASES and who are members OF GANGS. Or who are Muslim. Or gay.”
Here’s what I’m saying, in still different words: The tides of well placed propaganda, propelled today by television and radio media- something the Germans didn’t have in their successful efforts at dehumanization- are difficult to stop. The Spanish Inquisition went on for almost 300 years. The round ups and killings in pre-War Europe went on for almost a decade. No matter what we consider ourselves- Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Tea Party, Coffee Party, no party, Christian, not Christian, atheist, theist, or Flying Spaghetti Monster worshiper..we must, we must we must agree to come together on this: Mexican or Muslim or gay or whoever it is, we MUST NOT allow others to turn them into THINGS. We must not allow mailings, speeches, sermons, political ads, or posters to go unchallenged that refer to persons as anything less than beloved persons.We must be ready, as this other guy I know did, to give our lives for the Other, even for those Others that we might detest personally- like those men who might be nailing our arm to a wooden beam.
Truly, it is the single thing I fear for our country. We can weather economic chaos, natural disasters, and even great fuel or money shortages. But I don’t think we will be able to weather a return to the days when native Americans or Africans, Japanese or anyone else were accorded second class, third class, or bottom class rights as human beings.
We are “one.” And that’s not just biblical, that’s biological, cultural, spiritual, and- theoretically- legal. We do this planet together, with ourselves and the other species, or we will not be doing it at all. I could tell you that some day I will say “I told you so’” but that would be stupid since there will be no one around to either say it or hear it if we don’t remember what it is to love again.
That’s all. That’s what I wanted to say. I invite you to hold me to my words.