It Is Time For Us To Embody the World That We Envision

“Look at yourself, Look at what you are and measure it against what you imagine you are and what your conscience tells you, you must be. Be shocked, America! Be stunned, be overwhelmed by what you see, and feel at the center of your being the purifying fire of remorse.”  Frederick Douglass

This is a small world.  And perhaps it is the shrinking of the world that will ultimately bring us the era of peace that has been prophesied; it is, after all, this small world which has brought us to the entrance of war.

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”

Frederick Douglass

You see, this shrinking world, has dragged the poor, the slaves, and the under privileged into the ‘grand illuminated temple of  ‘liberty’, a temple into which they may only enter carrying a tray of food to serve, a broom to sweep, a new brick to lay, or through the medium of television.   While the wealthy are spared constant images of poverty flashing into their homes over the airwaves -the poor are not afforded the same courtesy.  The wealthy have claimed ownership of the world’s resources.  Lush fruit trees grow in the back yards of the poor but they may only labor in the fields collecting the harvest, they may not eat of it.  The poor go hungry and children die of starvation even in the wealthiest country in the world.

The ability to communicate and to see what goes on in every country affords the oppressed a view of lives which they would not have otherwise known, and it is through those images of wealth that the poor are faced with the clear reflection of their own poverty.  The world is overburdened by mans inequity and mans psyche is overburdened with pain.  People see that there are opportunities they do not share, and yet, those opportunities are advertised as basic human rights.  They see that all they need to advance in life is a good education, but they will almost never be afforded that education.

Now, the technological advances that have turned an entire planet into a neighborhood where to wealthy unknowingly parade their wealth before their neighbors who have nothing.  Every revolution on the planet has been seeded by this.  I have heard many people who had grown up poor, before the world became so small, say that they did not feel poor or feel badly about being poor because everyone else was in the same position. It is when the poor must endure not only their suffering but the constant exposure to those who are greedy and wasteful that the poor, feeling a loss of value, rebel against those who hoard the wealth.  Without a sense of self-worth, without a sense of value, man finds little left to live for and often is vulnerable or unconsciously seeks out a cause to die for that in some way will give value to their having lived.

We live in a world of uncomfortable neighbors who, were it not for technology, would not be so forced into acknowledging the circumstance of the other. Along with creating animosity that had not existed before, between nations and people who really would not have known each other in such intimate terms, it has also created a way to kill each other with a minimum of effort and a maximum of emotional detachment.  Yet, there is something else, something much more important that the shrinking world has made manifest.  It has forced mankind to come face to face with its own hypocrisy.  This hypocrisy is no less evident in a country whose Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

This country can state this in its declaration of independence while at the same time supporting slavery and the annihilation of its native peoples.   In an industrialized and technologically advanced world it is necessary to have a workforce that is at least minimally educated.  Because of this necessity, those who once suffered oppression without the education which would awaken their awareness of being oppressed, are now informed of the inequity in which they exist.

The ignorance which once shielded the division of classes is being technologically erased and so society can no longer sustain the division.  We live in the information age, the age of knowledge and knowledge breeds discontent.  What you know can hurt everyone.  Without ignorance, the hypocrisy of inequality is exposed.  Without knowledge, those with vision can only dream, but, with knowledge, those with vision can and do change the world.  Ignorance veils the truth, but once exposed, the truth does set us free.

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is an inevitable truth that whatever we use to selfishly build ourselves up, will one day be used to tear us down.  At whatever moment we make the choice to use any of God’s gifts to advance one over another, we have secured the weapon of our own demise.  What goes around comes around, what is sent out will return.   The technology that the few have used to covet the resources of the earth that belong to all, is that same technology that is exposing this misuse and forcing mankind to look at what we are, as Frederick Douglass said, and measure it against what we imagine ourselves to be.

Technology has made secrets more difficult to keep and it will slowly but surely make abuses more difficult to profit from.  Those who we have elected to govern us have used our trust to place themselves in positions that transform them from representatives of the people to representatives of only themselves.  Ours has declined into a government that represents the interests of those who govern and not those who are governed. If our representatives in congress voted for the people to have the same health insurance and pensions that they themselves enjoy, we would have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  At present, in the United States, we have a government of those in power, by those in power and for those in power.   In the coming lean years, it will be advisable to remember the next paragraph of the Declaration of Independence which states:

“That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security-Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.”

It is foolish to underestimate history.  We study history so that we do not repeat it.  And yet, repeating it is all that we ever do – new set same play.  When will we come to the understanding that we own nothing, we are entitled to nothing above that which every other human being on the planet is entitled.  We are permitted the use of the earth’s resources so long as we understand and accept the responsibility of that use. When resources are limited they must be equally shared.  History has shown us over thousands of years of wars, revolutions, and natural disasters that what we do not share will inevitably be taken away.

When AIDS was used to judge the lifestyles of homosexuals, it was loosed upon those who judged.  We are waiting for Judgment Day, unable to see that it has been here for many years.  The world looks more and more like a comic in the New Yorker magazine depicting Big fat pigs with cigars stepping on little ant sized people.  Those who are the guiltiest of the injustices greed are distorting religion, particularly Christianity to justify their actions.  Greed today, calls itself Capitalism, but it is what it is regardless of what we choose to name it.  It is the worship of mammon, and we can’t dress it up to be anything else, God sees what it does to the little people and calls it what it is.  How can anyone call themselves Christians and not live as Jesus Christ lived?  During his 40 days in the wilderness he was given a test.  It is a test we are all given, particularly in the country. He could have had mansions and servants traveling the world in luxury but that was not the wealth that he chose, who could choose that wealth today and call themselves a Christian, maybe a Christian wanabe in some lifetime, but not a Christian.  The basic tenet upon which almost every religion is built is that we are to love our brothers as ourselves, do unto other as we would have others do unto us. I have to believe that only by losing everything will those who hoard everything ever learn.  That they do not see what they are doing because if they saw, they might change only to save what they have and not learn the lesson of giving.

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.” .”  Isaiah 6:9-10

Many individuals on earth who share the dream of One World are joining together to reach out and aid those who are still in the dark.  We are learning that our survival is intricately connected with the survival of everyone else on the planet because they are our neighbors, we are no longer a world-we are a neighborhood.  One person cannot have a net worth of several billion dollars, while millions of children around the world starve to death.  The world is now a neighborhood and those children are our neighbors’ children.  If we do not protect our neighbors’ children, eventually it will be our children who need protecting, and we will be alone.

“A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, “Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.”  Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 31a

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  Albert Einstein

Sarah Palin – The Republican’s Magic Trick

Lately, as I listen to undecided voters speaking about how Senator McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin convinced them that they should vote McCain, I feel as though I am trapped by a magician in a magic show on the Twilight Zone.

There are voters who will vote party lines regardless of the candidate or the issues.  Then there are voters who will not vote for a Black man to be the President of the United States, regardless of the issues or the position and qualifications of the candidate.  These voters would publicly give politically correct reasons for not choosing Obama, but the bottom line would be race, plain and simple.  I don’t really know what percentage of voters these are, but my feeling is that the both of the above groups of voters are more Republican than Democrat. Then there are those voters who only care that the country continues its movement away from the First Amendment and towards a more Fundamentalist Christian rule; guiding the country back to Biblical Science and away from evolution while limiting our freedoms regarding homosexuality, religious practice, and the right to choose.  In this group too, the Republicans have an edge.  Then there are those voters who want to see a woman President regardless of what she stands for or what her vision of this country is.  And last, there is the group of voters who want more than anything for the country to be free of this war in Iraq, avoid any other unnecessary wars, and search for Osama Bin Laden where he has always been. This group is mostly Democratic but with a small number of Republicans who see the financial waste.  These are not the groups who will win the election.  These are the groups who are already, and have been from the beginning, reflected in the polls.

There are many young people not counted in the polls who will vote for a change, vote for an economy where they can find work and remain in this country, vote for a country where they will have an opportunity to find better or any health care for themselves and the children that they have or intend to have.  Many of these voters are rational thinkers and realize that if the Republicans were going to make any of the changes that they are promising today, some of them would have been reflected over the past eight years.  These voters are not listed in the undecided, they are decided, but just not counted, as in the many surprise primaries for Obama and Ron Paul, and they will show up at the polls and cast the vote that they have already decided upon.

The voters still to be convinced are the undecided.  Some are hesitant about Barack Obama because they believe that given the situation that the country is in here and abroad, perhaps more foreign policy experience would be of value, perhaps just more experience on the ticket.  If we are willing to face the elephant in the room (no pun intended), considering the issue of Obama’s race, and his very John F. Kennedy like vision for this country and its people – there is an underlying fear of assassination.  Many people fear that if he isn’t too good to be true, as some would like us to believe, then he is too good, for those whose power depends on exploitation, to be allowed to serve the people of this country.  In regards to the concern over experience, his running mate would either help satisfy the question of experience by adding that to the ticket, or, solidify the concern by choosing someone who is equally or less experienced that Obama.  The same would be an issue if the fear was of assassination.  The Vice President would have to share Obama’s vision of positive change for the majority of the people and at the same time satisfy the question of experience.  In these two areas Joe Biden was the most appropriate choice to assuage the doubts and satisfy many of the undecided voters.

Those who would want to consider John McCain but remain undecided feeling that his lack of economic experience and overall foreign policy and national security experience, beyond having served in a war, needed to be considered.  There is also the issue of mortality when the person running for President could be elected to his first term at the age of 72 with a history of Cancer and other health problems.  So, here too, the Vice President that he would choose would have to be more experienced in dealing with the economy foreign affairs and national security.  If we are going for a change in the running of the government, then it would have to be someone who did not vote with Bush 90% of the time but voted for the people.

The thing that utterly amazes me is that I am hearing people who say that they were undecided, now stating that after the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate, they have decided to vote for him.  If the prior hesitation was that he needed more experience in areas that would help our economy or foreign policy, what does she bring to the table that turns him into the perfect President for our country?  If it is a question of mortality, which in McCain’s case is much more viable a question than in Obama’s, what makes Sarah Palin the right candidate for the office of President of the United States?  Is this country really ready to go from President GW Bush to President Sarah Palin?  I don’t understand what, of the little that we know of her, could give people the sense that she would be so capable of leading the free world that without so much as a single debate or an unscripted reply to a single question, they were suddenly able to decide?  Was the hesitation that McCain was not a woman?  Was it that she is a mother who did not abandon her pregnant teenager?  Was it that she takes great joy in killing defenseless animals for sport and supports the NRA?  I am sure that McCain, if not an avid killer of animals, does at least support the NRA.  So I am at a loss to understand the logic behind the choice of a woman that we have yet to really know anything about, swaying the undecided now, before any debates, before any open interviews – before she is even permitted to answer questions from reporters.

What does this say about what this country stands for in the twenty-first century?  What does this say about this country and its place in the world?  As of today, with what we know about Joseph Biden, and Sarah Palin, I am at a totally unable to understand how anyone could be in doubt as to who would better represent the nation and its people in the world today.  I am not saying that there is something wrong with believing that Sarah Palin is the best candidate after knowing enough about her to be adequately informed as to her capabilities and her intentions as Vice President and President, should she have to step in and ascend to that Office.  At least, then, credit must be given for a choice made based on being adequately informed, and on the world’s stage in which we live, we can stand up for a decision made, whether we like it or not, that engaged the mind and heart.

But the truth is that all of the e-mails that I am receiving that push the Republican ticket because of Sarah Palin, either begin with, “She has truly been sent by God to the Kingdom”, or, “Finally a woman who is just like us.”  My first problem is with selling her as an average mother, many mothers with children who have disabilities do not have a choice between being there for their children, or working to support them.  The mothers that I know, who have the choice as she does, would overwhelmingly choose to be a mother first to a child with special needs, even if it meant temporarily putting ambition aside.  And as to God sending her to the Kingdom, I believe that God sends everything that happens and everyone who is born – to this kingdom.  The question which remains to be answered, in my very humble opinion, is whether or not this package from on High will have been sent to our nation as a reward, or as a lesson that we have yet, been unwilling to learn.