Living in Society Social Commentary

Living in the United States

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Greenville, Mississippi
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Greenville, Mississippi

All at once the United States is coming together and the convergence is upsetting.

While members of the white privileged class engaged in the seventh game of baseball’s World Series, a black church was burned in Greenville, Mississippi.

While members of Sioux tribes stand in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing land theirs by treaty, white occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were acquitted of wrong doing by a jury in Oregon.

While supporters of the Republican presidential candidate chant “lock her up,” “build the wall,” and “drain the swamp,” the more sane among us work toward a world that can be sustained based on what we know about society and its role in the environment.

It is an America I have known well, one of hate, greed, ignorance, isolationism, violence and intolerance. It pits rich against poor, convincing many to believe they are weak and powerless in an electorate that produced a horror show of incompetence, graft, war-mongering and corruption among elected officials.

Votes matter — now more than ever.

We’ll see voter turnout in the general election together on Nov. 8. The forecast does not look pretty. Many people I meet feel the value of their vote has been diminished. What they don’t always realize is the loss of hope and positive outlook about our lives in society is intentionally manufactured. What’s happened in the post Ronald Reagan era has been a stunning undermining of the fabric of society including governmental institutions being hollowed out predictably and intentionally by the richest Americans to favor their interests.

Congressman John Lewis of Georgia’s fifth district recently posted, “I’ve marched, protested, been beaten and arrested–all for the right to vote. Friends of mine gave their lives. Honor their sacrifice. Vote.”

Voting matters, the powerful among us know it, and voter suppression during this election cycle has no precedents in the 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. It is the first election without the protections of the law.

When the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Section Four of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the 5-4 decision,

“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act,” he wrote. “The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process.”

Ask the 200 members of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi how redressing racial discrimination is going.

We woke up Wednesday to the murders of two Des Moines police officers. A white suspect is believed to have killed two white police officers in premeditated murders. The murders are abhorrent.

“What happened yesterday was calculated murder of two law enforcement officers. Plain and simple, that’s the reality. If someone wants to argue that reality with me, my office is two doors down,” said a visibly frustrated Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert.

With due respect to Chief Wingert, we have courts to determine the guilt or innocence of the suspect. Relativism has no place in our justice system. Reality may be arguable, but truth and justice are not.

While fueling my car the morning of the murders, the attendant walked up, wanting to talk about the election.

I said, “have you heard about the murders in Des Moines?” He hadn’t. Despite the speed with which the internet can communicate aspects of our lives, our understanding of current events is uneven at best, deplorable at worst.

Late last night I received an email from a respected friend suggesting a letter to presidential candidate Jill Stein asking her to drop out of the race and support Hillary Clinton. It read, in part,

We have never met in person, but I am writing to urge you to please drop out of the Presidential race and give your vocal support to Hillary Clinton. I completely agree with your policies, and am frightened by many of Hillary’s plans, but  we simply cannot risk a Trump presidency, with his finger on the nuclear arsenal — he is insane.

What the hell?

Our country was founded on genocide, built on the backs of slave labor, then taken from us by the richest people in the world. In the 2016 general election we will reap what we sowed.

This dark time in history has few modern precedents. More than anything we cannot afford to relinquish the search for truth, meaning, sustainability and social justice. Not now. Not ever.

One reply on “Living in the United States”

Somehow we have allowed our profoundly common humanity to be shrunk to nano-size letting our petty, aversive, angry, reactive differences grow into a mindless, raging, hopeless, life-denying Hulk.


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