The heart of America is broken

https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-trial-live-updates/2021/02/10/966588090/the-footage-is-horrific-senators-react-to-gripping-new-video-of-capitol-riotWASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 10. 2021 (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Today is the second day of the second impeachment trail against former US President Donald Trump. The charge is “Incitement of a Riot at the US Capitol building” on January 6, 2021. It was a day that will live in infamy in America’s history, when a large crowd of extremist Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and intended to harm or kill Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and any other members of Congress who they found. The rioters had been incited toward violence for months by Trump, who kept up a steady stream of lies about the results of the 2020 presidential election. Despite no evidence whatsoever, he falsely claimed that the Democratic party “stole the election” from him. Then January 6th happened, the day the election results from all the states were to be certified by the Congress.

“It was one of the roughest days of our life,” he said. “We didn’t realize how much at risk we were. You knew we were at risk, but we didn’t know it was that much. I mean, literally, we could have been all wiped out.” Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/us/politics/impeachment-violence-senate.html

The second impeachment trial is being streamed live for the public this week on national news outlets.  I listened to the Democratic team of lawmakers as they took turns describing, in graphic detail, all the events of that terrible day. They played many videos containing footage showing the mob approaching and breaking into the Capitol building and various chambers, including the Senate floor itself. They smashed windows, pillaged and terrorized not only many members of Congress, but their families, many staff members, and journalists who were inside the Capitol that day. There was also video footage that hadn’t been shown to the public before, of the Capitol police, and later also the Metropolitan Police officers as they were beaten and hurt by the rioters. 140 police officers were hurt that day, and three died because of the insurrection.

“It was really horrifying what happened. You know, I think the House team really put forth a very strong connecting of the dots. I don’t see how you can watch any of this and listen to their presentation and not conclude that Trump bears tremendous responsibility for what happened,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, told reporters.

https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-trial-live-updates/2021/02/10/966588090/the-footage-is-horrific-senators-react-to-gripping-new-video-of-capitol-riot

The impeachment prosecution team presented their evidence in a direct, concise, and factual manner. I know I am not alone in saying that the evidence of Trump’s dereliction of his duty, taken under oath as Commander in Chief of the United States, is indisputable. Any sane human being, upon hearing the evidence, listening and watching the numerous videos, and reading what Trump himself actually said to his extremist supporters, would have to agree that this man is absolutely guilty of inciting a mob to violent insurrection against the United States government.

And yet, the most atrocious part of this whole story is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Republican senators, the very people who were in that Senate chamber when the rioters were smashing in the windows and attempting to get in in order to harm and or kill them, once both sides have argued their case, will vote to NOT impeach Trump. They will NOT hold him accountable for this highest crime against the US Constitution, against all the members of the House and Senate, and against everything that being the President of the United States of America stands for. Those senators, by their very refusal to impeach Trump, are, in my opinion, accomplices to his crime. They too, must be held accountable, and justice must be served.

Since January 6 of this year, I have been alternately in states of shock, anger, and grief regarding the condition of our country. America has had a long slide from its pedestal on the world stage, for many years now. But the past four years of Trump’s presidency has pushed it from a slide to the edge of a very tall cliff. Hearing and seeing the evidence of this cliff today forced Americans who are still sane to re-live that horrific day. We are staring at our collective shadow, and it is as ugly as it gets—terrifyingly so. Some of our leaders have sold their souls to the devil, which is the collective negativity created by unbridled greed and lust for power. It is the Beast of the Book of Revelation, on display for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

There are those who listened or watched all the evidence presented today, and yet still deny what they heard as untrue, who are stubbornly holding to Trump’s lies of a stolen election, and who continue to feed the shadow beast of hatred, white supremacy, and ignorance. There are far too many ignorant, deeply asleep humans who call themselves Americans. I think the most perplexing question of all is: How can the ones who are still so blind, deaf and asleep, awaken? The heart of America is broken. What will it take to heal it? Is it even possible at this point? Will we continue to be literally split down the middle in an unbelievable tension of polarization? What will happen once that tension breaks completely?

It is time for the American people to become more mature. As a country, we’ve been in primary school for long enough. We must graduate and become adults now, in all ways. At a moment like this, it feels nearly impossible that we will manage to do this in time to avert complete catastrophe. And yet, becoming mature and accepting the truth, which is plainly in front of our faces, is exactly what we must do. For if we do not, our fate will be sealed and the United States will become extinct, a relic much like the Roman Empire when it fell.

References: 

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/02/10/us/impeachment-trial/stacey-plaskett-the-house-delegate-from-the-us-virgin-islands-gets-a-high-profile-role-at-the-trial

https://www.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000007598512

https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-trial-live-updates/2021/02/10/966588090/the-footage-is-horrific-senators-react-to-gripping-new-video-of-capitol-riot

Our Summer of Dissonance

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary online, dissonance is defined as:

1 a: lack of agreement, the dissonance between the truth and what people want to believe; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs;
b: an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement; “the mingling of bitter comedy and stark tragedy produces sharp dissonances”— F. B. Millett

2: a mingling of sounds that strike the ear harshly : a mingling of discordant sounds; especially, music : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord.

Synonyms of dissonance include: conflict, disaccord, discord, discordance, discordancy, disharmony, dissension (also dissention), dissent, dissidence, disunion, disunity, division, friction, infighting, inharmony, schism, strife, variance, war, warfare.
(Citation: “Dissonance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonance. )

As any skimming of news websites clearly shows, Dissonance is now the buzzword of our current times. Those of us living in the United States are immersed in our collective dissonance 24/7, with no relief save for turning off all devices, airplane mode or taking an off-grid getaway.

Case in point: President Trump travelled to Mount Rushmore National Monument on Friday, July 3, to hold a political rally for the Independence Day weekend. I guess one could argue it was a savvy marketing campaign—the backdrop for his barely veiled, White Supremist propaganda was the faces of four American presidents carved into the granite rocks of the monument. The link to the NYTimes article is here.

As America’s POTUS denounced “dangerous left-wing fascists” who are defacing “national heroes” by toppling many statues of White Supremists (including confederate heroes) across the country, he conveniently neglected to mention that the Coronavirus infection rate increased by 90% over the past couple of weeks. Dissonance. As the Trump administration continues its deliberate denial, fact twisting and blatant lying about the pandemic’s effects on all aspects of American life, the tones and cadences of dissonance reverberate ever louder throughout our collective souls.

Then there’s America’s national shame about racism that continues to lay bare the core wound of its founding and accumulation of wealth through the slavery of and violence against Black people. Since the George Floyd murder by police at the end of May, a tidal wave of protests, opinion pieces, journalists, political voices, writers, and scholars have clamored to amplify this collective moment of dissonance in the hopes that finally, finally, White people will get it. Systemic racism is everyone’s problem, perpetuated by White silence and complacency to the status quo. One of these voices, Marvin Blakely, a civil trial lawyer, in this weekend’s NYTimes opinion section, writes,

And how could I calmly describe how people of color are penalized for not knowing and adhering to the culture of white America, while no value is placed on our culture, which they so freely appropriate for profit? How do I help these friends understand that the solution to the race problem lies with them? Ultimately a conversation is just more talk. What about taking action, no matter how small?

If they truly wanted to be of help and have meaningful conversations, with me or anyone else, I decided to tell them, they should begin by acknowledging that the problem lies in the hearts and minds of them, their brothers, sisters, parents, and in-laws.

I told them that a conversation in which you acknowledged years of undeniable oppression and then suggested Black people “move on” was as offensive as taking no action and remaining silently complicit. After the acknowledgment, I would ask that they educate themselves (and others) and, before engaging in those conversations that white America suddenly finds necessary, listen. After completing Steps 1, 2 and 3, you are ready not just to talk, but to act in a manner consistent with our mutual humanity.

Dissonance. Discord. Disharmony. Dissolution. Disrespect. Disregard. Disease. Dis. The prefix is defined as: negation, reversal. It is undeniable to the vast majority of us by now that we are smack in the middle of a collective Dark Night of the Soul. Our collective soul is being forced to face its shadow. In Jungian terms, the shadow of the soul is made up of all the unresolved, denied, repressed, hidden and shamed elements of our ego. Until the shadow is exposed to the light of acknowledgment, clearly seen and somehow forgiven, it remains as a force of negation, a receptacle of humanity’s sewage. We are in the midst of shining the strongest, most piercing light yet on our collective, core wound and its devastating consequences on entire sections of the human race. This is the most important work we must collectively do now. No matter how frustrating, horrifying, nauseating, disgusting, or dirty, facing our collective shadow is imperative for healing the unspeakable wound we must all heal.

Dear Readers, the moment we are living through now defies description. Though many (including me) attempt to describe what we are facing, ultimately we are rendered speechless. The dissonance runs so deeply through the core of our humanity, that it is tearing us apart, quite literally. What can we do, how can we hold the dissonance without breaking into a million pieces?

One suggestion is to simply surrender and let the pain of our collective wound open you. You may experience what feels like dying, a pressure so tremendous that it is unbearable. Yet, if you are willing to let the forces of dissonance break you open, what you find within the heart of that pain will astound you. Rumi once wrote of a field that exists beyond the pain of the world. And that field absolutely exists, waiting eternally for anyone curious and brave enough to find it. It is a place of utter calm, of peace beyond human understanding, and of constant love. It is not far from each one. Just as the composer understands the supreme importance of silence within a symphony, we too must learn to understand the importance of finding the depth of wisdom within the heart of pain. Dissonance leads to eventual harmony when one is willing to do the work.

The United States of Emergency

I-cant-breathe
Black America is screaming for justice now. (images via The New York Times)

The United States has ignited. The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis by a white police officer was the match that lit the tinderbox of racial tension. Floyd’s death is the latest in a long line of atrocities committed against black people in America at the hands of police. America is in a state of emergency as The People are in the streets battling with police from coast to coast.

 

Former President Barak Obama was quoted in today’s NYTimes. “This is something that’s got to change,” Mr. Obama said, arguing the challenges of the last few weeks were the result of structural problems in the country. “They’re the result of a long history of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining and institutionalized racism that too often have been the plague of this original sin of our society.”

stop-killing-us
(images via The New York Times)

Thomas Friedman, an opinion columnist for The NYTimes, laments,

What to do? Where can we find the leadership needed to calm this situation, deal with its underlying causes and at least get us through the 2020 election?

Three years ago, I might have hoped that Senate Republicans would step in and restrain Trump. But now we all know better. The Senate Republican caucus today is nothing but a political brothel. Mitch McConnell is the madame. And McConnell and his caucus rent themselves out by the night to whomever will energize the Republican base to keep them in power and secure the economic benefits for their wealthiest donors.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/ 

A similar tone is found in this opinion piece from The Times’ Editorial Board:

The chaos unleashed by the death of Mr. Floyd defies simple prescriptions; it is a result of too many underlying conditions. Authorities are facing a stern test: It can be all but impossible to police the boundaries of legitimate protest, particularly on the ground. And it must be painful for many police officers who put their lives on the line to hear themselves criticized by their fellow citizens.

Yet the testimony of local journalism, eyewitnesses and videos posted online make clear that too many police officers have little interest in protecting legitimate protest. While some officers have joined protests or knelt in solidarity, others, often in the same cities, have acted savagely, inciting or exacerbating violence.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/opinion/george-floyd-protests-first-amendment

America is on fire with anger, rage and anguish. Two months of being locked down, confined to our homes (if one is fortunate enough to have one) combined with the loss of employment, income and freedom to move about freely, created the conditions for the powder keg that exploded with the murder of George Floyd by the police. Hundreds of thousands are in the streets in more than 140 cities across the country, carrying protest signs, chanting “I can’t breathe,” raising their fists in solidarity and kneeling to remind the authorities of the horrific abuse of power that police have used on black citizens for far too long. Yes, Black Lives Matter. Yes, White Privilege is real. The magnitude of the protests and riots cannot be overstated. This is the Tsunami of Change, right now. We can choose to collectively pivot towards a just and fair society as the old paradigm of control by force breaks apart and goes up in flames.

black power_sky
Black Lives Matter. (images via The New York Times)

Dear Readers, some of you won’t agree with me, but the truth is that no matter where you live in this world, systems of institutionalized oppression have been visited upon your people, whether currently or in the distant past. No one on Earth has been immune from the control mechanisms put in place by those who profit from human suffering. The current crisis in the United States has been a long time in the making. Now that it is upon us,  we can no longer ignore it or be complicit in this struggle. It is ALL of our responsibility to participate in this awesome moment of Revolution. The alarms are screaming everywhere for our collective awakening and it is up to each person to shine the spotlight first within their own heart and see what is there. No matter how painful, how wounded, how dark or how hideous what may be found, it is finally time to really see it, acknowledge it, and then begin the difficult work of forgiving it. Forgiveness is not denial. Forgiving oneself first is the key to being able to change, and then to reconciliation with all others. It is a courageous process and it takes time. The past couple of weeks are showing Americans that the time for fighting violence with yet more violence is over. We MUST go beyond fear of the Other. There is no other.

The NYTimes put up this incredible photo essay showing visceral images from across the United States over the past ten days. I hope you will take the time to gaze at this moment, and ponder what it means to you. Photo Essay-George Floyd protests

Here is a link to an essay posted by Barack Obama in Medium. Many of us are grateful for his calm wisdom right now. https://medium.com/@BarackObama/how-to-make-this-moment-the-turning-point-for-real-change-9fa209806067

reconciliation is possible
Peace and justice go hand in hand when we open our hearts and realize the truth of who we are. (images via The New York Times)