The United States of Emergency

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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.”

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(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.

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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)

It’s finally time for big, structural change

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image via commondreams.org

Dear Readers, usually I am careful on this blog to avoid sounding strident or provocative to the point where some of you won’t bother to read it. But today I feel that I must speak out about the absolute urgency of our common crisis moment here in America.

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the American economy during the past six weeks. Congress has passed several unprecedented economic recovery bills, which they touted as helping everyday Americans and especially small businesses to get through the emergency intact. Yet, it is coming out into the public that a large percentage of the billions of dollars designed to help small businesses and their employees, is instead (once again) lining the pockets of corporations and billionaires who are siphoning off the money from the ones who cannot survive without it. Read the Forbes magazine article  here.

“We’re not going to be able to check all the loans before they go out the door because there’s over 26,000 of these loans, but before we forgive these loans, we’ll check every single one over $2 million,” Mnuchin pledged on Tuesday. “I encourage everybody to look at this and pay back these loans now so we can recycle the money if you made a mistake.”

More than 220 public companies have applied for at least $870 million in small business loans, according to data analytics firm FactSquared.

Under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, The Paycheck Protection Program was originally allocated $349 billion for emergency small business loans, but that funding was quickly exhausted amid overwhelming demand that has often caused glitches in the system. Despite weeks of controversy around the PPP, another $310 billion was injected into the program thanks to the latest $484 billion coronavirus relief bill passed last week. “–Forbes magazine

Among ALL of the immense lessons Covid-19 has been teaching us, this particular one is definitely in the top 3 for people to pay attention to. We watched as giant corporations consolidated their wealth during the 2008 Great Recession. We saw predatory companies buy up smaller ones, including many banks. During the past 12 years, wealth consolidation by the wealthiest corporations and CEOs has gone from terrible to inconceivable. It is inconceivable that literally a handful of humans’ net worth is more than well over half of the population of the United States combined. Let that sink in for a moment.

Top wealthy people US-Forbes-2019

Top wealthy people 2-US-Forbes-2019
www.forbes.com/forbes-400

Further reading:  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/27/no-were-not-all-together-how-super-rich-are-cheating-america

Watching the news spectacle coming from Washington DC each day during the pandemic, many of us feel by turns angry, frustrated, sad, devastated, or perhaps even resigned to the ineptness and absurdity we are hearing from the POTUS and his administration. One author from Ireland commented about it this way (from Commondreams.org) :

The gifted Fintan O’Toole offers a fresh, brilliant, devastating perspective on a time when the sense of America as a great country “has all but evaporated.” Now the epicenter of a pandemic, he describes a nation “locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity,” he writes. “It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively, often in the recurring horror show of briefings in which all the neuroses that haunt the American subconscious dance naked on live TV.” 

The question most of us wonder is, Where do we go from here? When will the citizens finally awaken out of the nightmare of what life in America has become for the majority of us? Isn’t it way beyond time to open our eyes and squarely face the obscenity of unbridled greed and power-mongering being flaunted right before our faces? And then say:  NO MORE. EVER AGAIN. The hundreds of millions of people who continue to suffer due to monstrous inequity by the power elite deserve better. The Covid-19 pandemic is showing us our collective neuroses like never before.  May we each have the deep courage and strength to finally, creatively, and loudly point it out, protest, petition our members of congress, and most importantly, to vote for real, structural change to the status quo. The criminals must be permanently stopped, and the time is NOW.

The Shakedown of False Belief Systems

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image via Sciencealert.com

The vortex energies of January are swirling. Everyone feels them, whether they are conscious of them or not. People’s nerves are frayed, anxiety levels are skyrocketing, many are feeling helpless, hopeless or both. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are on the planet, how much money you possess, or your position in society. This world is shaking loose of its foundations, and it’s happening fast.

As you look around and observe your part of the world, what signs of major change are you experiencing? Is it unnerving you a bit (or perhaps a lot)? Many of us here in the United States have been watching or listening to the Senate’s impeachment managers present their arguments for impeachment and removal of President Trump. There has been copious amounts of evidence presented through many grueling hours of argument brought forth for all 100 US senators to consider. Senator Adam Schiff, head of the impeachment management team, spoke passionately and eloquently on behalf of protecting the United States Constitution, as he made their case that to allow this president to walk away and be acquitted of wrongdoing in spite of the huge amount of evidence against him, is tantamount to crushing the very foundations of democracy that the United States was built upon 233 years ago,

Schiff evoked Senator Bobby Kennedy as he stated, “Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues and the wrath of their society. And then I understood by that measure just how rare moral courage is.

“One of the things that we in this fellowship of office holders understand (that most people don’t) is that real political courage doesn’t come from disagreeing with our opponents, but from disagreeing with our friends and with our own party because it means having to stare down accusations of disloyalty and betrayal.”

Schiff closed his remarks by imploring Republican senators to permit new testimony before rendering a final verdict. He reminded them of “how unforgiving history can be” before closing his speech with a plea: “I ask you, I implore you, give America a fair trial. Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it.”  You can watch Senator Schiff’s closing remarks here. It is worth the time, for those of you interested in seeing modern American history being made.

During his closing remarks, Schiff spent time predicting how the Trump defense team would present their defense. I am pretty certain his predictions will be spot on. Tragically, it will most likely be the case that none of the Republican senators, who have the majority in Congress, will vote their conscience (if any of them even have any conscience left) and side with the Democrats for impeachment.  Senator Schiff’s warnings will go unheeded, and Trump will probably remain in power for the remainder of his presidency in 2020. BUT. The presidential elections that will take place in November very well may (as many hundreds of thousands of us here in America pray they will) see the outworking of the impeachment trial in the form of the Democratic party seizing power in the White House and in the Senate. Schiff commented in his speech that Americans are intelligent and are paying close attention to how the senators will vote, and they will remember and vote accordingly. Obviously we will have to wait until November to find out if his prediction is accurate.

But there is another aspect to the changes I’d like to mention here, dear Readers. We are living through a moment in our history that is hyper-emotionally charged. In fact, it is not difficult to see that there are different realities competing for our attention on a daily and even moment-by-moment basis. Looking through the websites of news outlets such as the New York Times, Newsweek and CNN this evening, what is clearly apparent is simply the overwhelming amount and diversity of stories all vying for our attention. When I step back from my emotionality and feelings of right vs. wrong, I can see that the whole thing is one big ludicrous show. Our world is an immense stage or movie set, made up of millions upon millions of mini-shows being acted out nonstop. Seeing the world from the higher perspective, it becomes somewhat easier to breathe. The despair I feel at the state of not only America’s demise, but the state of our planet and its failing ecosystems, somewhat abates when I am able to step back and see the show for what it actually is, realizing once more that I am not responsible for all the tragedies of this world. What is my responsibility then? Every thoughtful person must turn within to reflect on this important question, and find one’s own answer. It is all of our responsibility to not look away, not deny what we plainly see before us. The problems humanity faces are immense and threaten all that we hold dear, including our very lives as a species on Earth.

The decade we’ve just entered will, I predict, shake each of us down to our very core, exposing the lies and darkness that still remain to be brought to the light of Truth. This light is intended to heal what needs healing, which involves crisis. Find your calm center, gather your support team around you, and remember to keep breathing.

https://www.newsweek.com/adam-schiff-respect-trends-powerful-closing-speech-1483998