The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. Isaiah 11:6: A call for revolution

images

Soundtrack, “Get Up Stand Up” by Bob Marley

“The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” I could’ve sworn that I heard that wobbly melody playing in my head the other day. The original vagabond and singer of protest song is now the Noble Prize winner in literature. And it leaves me wondering, how much change has really taken place since 1962 when that song was first released. Even Dylan doesn’t sing protest songs any longer, instead he mumbles songs from the Great American Song Book. It was never his singing voice, guitar or harmonica playing that made him a legend; he once was angry and had something to say——-“Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Where’s the rage and the contempt for the established authority? Where’s the cadre of enraged youth demanding that the old guard move aside so that they can fix the mess they’ve been left by their parents? There’s a pervasive complacency in the world today that frightens me. There’s nihilism where idealism once reinvented itself with each new generation. When did the power of music, investigative journalism and critical thinking fall out of vogue? When did taking to the streets in protest get replaced by insipid tweets, trendy FB posts, and lame blogs——-insert angry emoji here.

It’s not as if the world has evolved into a kinder and gentler place. To the contrary, if you take a good look around you’ll see that we’ve begun to de-evolve. We’ve elected a president who’s a racist, sexist and a xenophobe. For over a decade we’ve remained mired in wars in the middle east. A conflict that was initially predicated on a lie regarding WMD. We have the “one percenters” who’s resources and wealth continue to grow as the middle class evaporates. Earnings and benefits for workers continue to shrink as the rich blatantly pay no taxes. Mr Trump hasn’t paid federal income tax for twenty years. He proudly defended this conduct by stating “Because I’m smart. “Smart” should be replaced with “greedy”. Scientist warn that global warming is destroying our environment, while leaders of industry choose short term profit over the long term effects of climate change. We have a system of government that allows billionaires to buy the outcome of elections. We have a “democracy” where a candidate can be elected president even though the majority of voters voted for the challenger. There’s mass shootings occurring on a daily basis, yet NRA refuses to indorse a ban on AR-15 “assault-type weapon,” or support thorough background checks. Every day children unnecessarily die of starvation and preventable deseases. The cost of medical care and college education has spiraled out of control. Can someone please tell me where the answer is to these travesties. Oh yes, I forgot, “The answer is blowing in the wind”.

The twenty four hour, seven day a week news cycle has diminished our capacity to feel empathy or comprehend compassion. We’ve become passive observers watching the news as a form of entertainment. We’re a society of rubber necker’s gawking at the daily mayhem. It’s reminiscent of the spectacle of blood and guts that the masses once cheered for at the Roman Coliseum. We’ve become anesthetized, desensitized and numb to the suffering of others. As the masses are fed a daily diet of misery, they’ve become consumed by a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. We’ve become a “fuck it” society. It’s a culture that’s lost faith in the system, in democracy—–in integrity. The greatest threat to our freedom and liberty isn’t the power vested in the elite but rather in the apathy of the masses.

Imagine a mythical island that’s comprised of 100 acres of land. The island has only coconuts, bananas and goats as its form of currency. There are 100 inhabitants living on this island. An individual who calls himself the Lord Of The Land has ownership of 99 of those 100 acres of land. He also has ownership of 99% of the coconuts, bananas and goats. All the inhabitance of this island depend on this man to secure their housing and food. He picks a man to be a candidate for the position of Island chief. He gives this candidate 2 coconuts, 2 bananas and some goat cheese. This island is a “democracy” so in order for this man to become the chief he must have the majority of the 100 islanders vote for him in order to become the island chief. He divides the gifts given to him by Lord Of The Land into smaller pieces. He offers these small gifts to islanders to entice them to vote for him (trickle down economics). He promises the islanders that he will represent their rights and liberties. These promises are in conflict with the Lord Of The Lands goal to maintain ownership of 99% of the land and its resources. The new chief is indebted to the Lord Of The Land because he provided him with the coconuts, bananas and goat cheese. Once he’s elected chief he is obliged to repay the Lord Of The Land by creating laws that protect his dominion over the islands resources. Can you imagine a land such as this? Can you extrapolate how this metaphor relates to our system of governance?

The word revolution hasn’t been uttered since the writing of The Declaration of Independence or the call for equality and change echoed in the 1960’s. The only way we will be able to restore equality, fairness and justice is by organizing and utilizing our power of civil disobedience and non violent resistance. It’s always been the kings and queens, the land barons, captains of industry and the ultra rich who’ve suppressed, manipulated and taken advantage of the masses. From the beginning of time, the redistribution of wealth, resources and power is something that the majority has had to rip from the greedy hands of the powerful minority. It’s through the union of the majority (Unions) that we’ve been able to demand our fair share of the pie. Leaders that preach divisiveness are manipulating the majority into splinter groups to fight amongst themselves.  It’s a diversionary tactic that’s used to keep the majority from unifying and challenging the elites control and hold on power.

Ironically it isn’t the youth of this nation that’s risen up and demanded freedom, liberty and justice for all. No, it’s a seventy five year old Jewish man who’s attempting to mobilize a revolution. His bold message is captured in the following quote “With your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It will take a revolution to right this sinking ship. It will take people organizing and standing up for the rights of all citizens. We need a new Declaration of Independence. With that in mind I’ve drafted the following document. This is a working document open to input, additions and omissions. It’s an evolving document.

The goal of the following document isn’t to provide all of the answers to our political issues, but rather to start a dialogue that gets people to utilize their critical thinking skills rather than irrational emotional responses to issues. It’s a document that requires input and inclusion from all its citizens.  Please feel free to provide input and insights into the following document.

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——-regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, age, heritage, disability or any other individual differences.

Taxes shall be levied fairly and equitably. This entails implementing a flat tax that offers no deductions or write offs for individuals, cooperations or organizations. Those individuals possessing resources and earnings in the top one percent will be taxed at a flat rate of fifty percent of their earnings and resources. Those that are reaping excessive rewards must be held accountable for paying their fair share towards the good of the community.

A living wage will be paid to individuals. Any person working full time shall be able to afford their living expenses. This will negate the need to provide food stamps to individuals working for companies that do not adequately compensate their employee’s. This is a subsidy that tax payers are currently paying to support such profit rich companies as Walmart.

Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to one vote.
Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to no more than a $100.00 contribution per candidate. Companies, organizations, lobbyist and special interest groups are not allowed to contribute to a candidates election. This is to prevent undue influence of such entities over politicians with whom they have financially supported.

Gerrymandering will not be manipulated to provide a political party advantage over other such parties. The process is to support a system that determines a winner of political office by a majority vote, not by biased voting jurisdictions.  The Electoral College is to be abolished. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to medical care. Tax revenues are to be prioritize for this purpose.  Health Care is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to college or technological school. Tax revenues are to be prioritized for this purpose.  Education is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. Motivated students should not be saddled with huge college debt upon their graduation.  

Social Security and Medi Care are guaranteed to all tax paying citizens. These programs shall reflect the cost of living and not be privatized. Taxes are to be prioritized for this purpose. A nation is judged by how it respects and treats it most vulnerable individuals; the young, the old and those populations and individuals who possess limited resources and power.

Politicians will be limited to a maximum of two terms. This is to prevent politicians from using their power to stay in office rather than serve those who voted them into office.

Just like a vehicle, all guns must be registered and licensed. Automatic weapons are outlawed, thorough background checks are mandatory.

All vehicles, factories and related industries must meet strict environmental standards to counter the affects of global warming and pollution. Failure to comply will result in stiff penalties.

All candidates running for public office must disclose their tax returns. This is to prevent conflict of interests.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is protected and guaranteed.

Individuals or business that hire undocumented immigrants will suffer a stiff fine. The fine will progressively increase by the number of illegal employee’s and the frequency of infractions. The number of work visas will be increased in accordance with need and demand by employers.  These employees will be compensated at an equitable rate.  

Playing The Trump Card

images

Soundtrack “An American Tune” by Paul Simon.

Does copper rust? I sure hope not, because the statue of liberty is crying. Democracy has taken a wrong turn, and all of the soldiers who fought and died for such ethereal things as justice, equality and freedom have been betrayed. Our democratic foundation was built on the belief that all men (and woman) are created equal, but the outcome of our recent election has revealed cracks in these tenets that we once held as self evident. We have been mislead into an “us against them” world, creating a myopic America where those with different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and racial heritage are no longer welcomed or tolerated.  In fact, they’ve been singled out and blamed for our financial, social and national woes.

Our president elect has exploited these divisive beliefs in order to single himself out as the only person with the power and knowledge to solve our problems. He’s gained power by preying on our weakest of emotions—–fear! This is a primal emotion that causes us to dehumanize those that are different from us (please see Hitler and the Jews as an historical reference). This is the antithesis of what Hilary Clinton had proclaimed “We are stronger together.” Hate is the stepchild of fear and hate separates us and makes us politically weaker. Striking a single match of hate can ignite a firestorm capable of burning down the noblest of palaces.

I guess I thought we were better than this. Better than the hate spewed by an authoritarian fascist. It seems as though our blessed pledge of allegiance and our beloved “God Bless America” our merely flimsy words we’ve chanted until they’ve lost their meaning. And now, I sadly see the difference between pledges and actions, ideology and reality, democracy and rhetoric, integrity and malevolent tweets. Our covers have been pulled back to reveal something ugly and hate driven—–hypocrisy and bigotry.

Those that our weak and fearful give up their power to authoritarian leaders who will make decisions without their consent. After all, it’s easier to have someone give simplistic black and white answers in a kaleidoscope colored world. Those that want simple answers to complex social issues are willing to suspend their belief in decency, empathy and fairness in exchange for a catchy soundbites like “Make America Great Again”. Such slogans feel good to shout and fit neatly on bumper stickers.  They’re emotionally potent but anemic in details and substance. What has always made America great has been its ability to create opportunity for all of its citizens, not just the ones who fit into a narrow minded definition of “American”. The American melting pot has morphed into a sifter, allowing  only those of a certain pedigree to call themselves “American——enough”.

Donald’s “Trump card” has always been to delegitimize his opponents. Eight years ago he attempted to delegitimize President Obama by claiming that he was not born in America and therefor not eligible to be president. He tried to delegitimized Carly Fiorina by exclaiming “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for a face like that?” He tried to delegitimize Megyn Kelly by insinuating that she was asking tough questions because she was menstruating. He tried to delegitimize a reporter by mocking his disability. He tried to delegitimize Mexican immigrants by lumping them into a single group and claiming  “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapist”.  He followed this up by stating “They’re some bad hombres”. He delegitimized females by objectifying them and claiming that because he’s rich and famous he can kiss whoever he wants and grab any woman by their privates. He tried to delegitimize a judge who was presiding over his case by claiming that because he was of Mexican decent that he would not be impartial in doing his professional duties. He attempted to delegitimized Hillary Clinton by repeatedly addressing her as “Crooked Clinton”.

I’m still trying to comprehend why folks would vote for someone as caustic as Trump. I’ve come to believe that his inflated charisma is due to what I call the “Kardashian Effect”. We live in a culture that’s hypnotized by celebrity worship. Individuals become celebrities simply from their incessant media exposure.  Their sole talent is in extending their fifteen minutes of fame by being a provocateur.  If you’re trending, you’re winning.  If it smells it sells. And, if it spins, repeat it again.  Being civil and polite is so pedestrian, while being inflammatory and irreverent is sexy——and more importantly, it entertains and it sells.

And with fame there comes many benefits.  Fame allows one to manufacture counterfeit truth.  It then offers a megaphone so that this truth can be broadcasted far and wide.  Fame provides celebrities with a teflon conscience and an alzheimer’s memory.  And finally, it comes with a get out of jail free card, “I’m rich and famous, so the rules and laws don’t apply to me……”

Trump once claimed, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I can only imagine Trumps twitter feed after such an incident “Today I shot and killed an individual on 5th Avenue. I believe he may have been an illegal Mexican immigrant rapist who practices the Muslim faith and was most likely an operative for ISIS.”   His millions of twitter followers would read the tweet, nod their head and respond with “Good job”.  As the saying goes, the only bad press is no press and the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. The media is the message. It no longer matters what someone says or does, what matters is if they’re accruing media time by creating drama. The individuals who dominate the media landscape and exploit their notoriety, are the people who are mapping the future of our culture.

We’ve become victims of the Stockholm syndrome. We’re willing hostages to a 24/7 media obsession. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the media is are our caretaker, our savior, our guardian of truth.  If something is said long enough and loud enough it becomes reality. Perception isn’t reality, perception is propaganda. Truth and reality is no longer the message, entertainment and ratings are the message. We surf the internet or change channels until we find our preferred brand of reality.  Where do you acquire your version of truth? Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush, Bill Maur?

The pundits and the professionals newscasters have become puppets to whatever or who ever gets the highest viewer ratings or the most clicks on social media. Being outrageous and offensive allows those who are skilled manipulators a platform to garner attention and followers. It makes them appear to be “The next big thing” If it bleeds it leads. If it smells it sells. If it spins, repeat it again. News and politics are no longer about facts or checks and balances, its about entertainment.  Trump is a showman, an entertainer, a master manipulator. He knows all the magic tricks, the art of distraction, deception and misdirection. When life becomes complicated, we may choose to suspend reality—-to believe in magical thinking.  It’s naive to believe that someone can snap their fingers and make a white dove appear——and it’s equally foolish to think that someone can  wave a magic wand and make eleven million immigrants disappear or sprinkle magic dust on the ground and suddenly have a 2,000 mile wall appear—-paid for by the Mexican government.  Some tricks are illusions, while others are outright lies…..I suppose “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people  all the time”. Abraham Lincoln

As our democracy slips into a downward spiral we must be vigilant. Our leaders will be looking for scapegoats to blame for our countries financial, social and national woes. First they’ll marginalize those that they want to exclude. They’ll say things like “They’re American, but not as American as us”. The second step will be to delegitimize those that they want to sequester. They’ll say things like “They’re not Americans and they’re not like us”. The third step will be to dehumanize those that they want to eliminate. They’ll say things like “They’re not American, they’re not like us——they’re subhuman”. This is a predictable pattern that has been employed throughout history by fascist authoritarian leaders who are seeking to gain and sustain their power.

I’ll leave you with some suggestions to consider as we enter into this new area of designer realities and malleable truths……

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be hypnotized by celebrity. Fame does not equal integrity.
  2. Advocate for your own education. Just because someone or something is on the internet or TV does not make what’s being represented accurate or true.
  3. Be extremely suspicious of someone who is offering simple answers to complex issues. Slogans, soundbites and bumper stickers are tools to encourage magical thinking.
  4. Do not fall into the trap of generalizing, stereotyping or profiling one group of people as being the sole reason that a problem exists.  These prejudices need to be run through your bullshit detector.
  5. Never bargain away your freedom, liberty or justice as an end to justify the means.
  6. Don’t be manipulated by fear. The only remedy for fear is courage. Question authority, demand facts, stay on point, demand verifiable results not anecdotal statements. Repeat your question until you’re satisfied with the answer.
  7. If someone minimizes, delegitimizes or dehumanizes a person or group of people, tell them that this is America, a land where all men and women are created equal. Reiterate that our Declaration of independence guarantees all citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Remind them that thousands of men and women have fought and died to preserve these inalienable rights and that they’re not negotiable and will never be compromised.
  8. Don’t be fooled by a herd mentality. Just because a lot of people are saying something or doing something does not make it right or ethical.
  9. Don’t become emotionally attached to your beliefs. Do your research, pay attention to details and facts. Look at issues with an open mind and test your outcomes by playing the devils advocate.
  10. Get out of your bubble.  Don’t rely on a specific news network, a celebrity or a group of like minded friends to be your only reference point when assessing ideas and information.

It’s impossible to legislate morality, but I pray for the day when we evolve to the point where compassion, empathy and acceptance are valued more than power, greed and intolerance.

Hitler’s Jews are now Trump’s Mexicans

The script is old, but the strategy remains the same. Hitler manipulated the masses by making Jews the scapegoat for the woes of Germany. He created mass hysteria by blaming the Jews for destroying the German economy. Hate and vengeance were powerful elixirs used to unite the masses against a “fabricated common enemy”. It’s a technique the 1% have historically employed to take the focus off their hold on power as they covertly manipulate the system for their gain.

And today, we have Trump pulling a page from the same playbook but using undocumented immigrants as the targeted enemy. He claims that undocumented immigrants are stealing our jobs, robbing, killing, raping and destroying our economy (sound familiar). The technique remains the same, just the names of the “designate enemy” have changed.

At one time it was communism threatening our way of life. We were told that we needed to stop “them” in Korea before they arrived at our doorstep. Next came the cold war with Russia and then Vietnam and the domino theory. And who can forget the ruse regarding “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The title of “designated enemy” has been penned on Blacks, Russians, Gays, Welfare recipients and Muslims The boogieman comes in all shapes and sizes. Hate mongering is the easiest and most sinister way to achieve power.

Trumps solution for dealing with Iraq is to bomb their oil fields and then invite Mobil and Shell to take over the operation. He stated that he’d use US troops to encircle and protect the oil companies interests. This sounds like a page torn from Hitlers book on diplomacy. He arrogantly disregarded the non aggression treaty and invaded Poland. He dehumanized the enemy to justify his unbridled aggression.

This “us against them” mentality allows the controlling minority to splinter the majority into squabbling factions. They manipulate the masses by creating friction between nationalities, races, creeds, religions and the social/monetary classes.

In the name of capitalism and short term profits the 1% shamelessly pillage and plunder the earths natural resources. Even though 97% of the science community agree that Climate Change is real, the carbon based industries continue to ignore their responsibility in this man made disaster. In the name of greed children die of starvation and disease even though there is available food and medicine. But there is no financial incentive for companies to distribute food and medicine to those in need. Pharmaceutical drugs are sold at inflated prices and remain out of the reach of sick patience while insurance companies record record profits.

There was a time in America when it was touted that if you worked hard and applied your gifts, talents and skills you would be able to earn a living wage. And, if you followed the rules and made sacrifices, you could own your own home, you could have access to health care, you could afford to send your children to college. Over the last thirty years the middle class has dramatically shrunk, and with it, the American Dream. The wealthy continue to get richer while the middle class evaporates. Who is going to stand up and fight for those who do not have a voice in our current system? “Spoiler alert”, this rhetorical question is to be addressed at the end of the article—-!!!

We are all a lot more alike than different. We all want the same things; a job that pays a living wage, a place to rest ones head and to call home, access to medical care, affordable education and training, a clean environment and a shot for the next generation to have a better life then we’ve had.

In its early implementation capitalism rewarded competition and innovation, but now that the money and power is only in a few hands, it has breed corruption and abuse of the system. Those who have money and power control the political agenda. The special interest groups and the privileged have the collateral to manipulate the system for their gain. Influence is for sell to highest bidder. And, no one knows this better than Trump and his cronies.

Trump and Hitler oversimplified the issues by blaming one segment of the population for all of our troubles. But we can no longer invade, occupy, bomb, kill, incarcerate and marginalize our problems out of existence. To solve our issues today there is a need for all of the stakeholders to have a voice in the process. This is a fundamental right that the Constitution and Bill of Rights intended to protect. But the balance of power has been compromised away from the majority and tipped in the direction of the controlling minority. Our hard won democracy has become a oligarchy. Our forefathers would shake their heads in disgust if they knew what had become of their noble experiment.

We need to move towards a system that rewards cooperation and collaboration. A system that requires those who have more to contribute more by paying their fair share of taxes. Tax loopholes for the rich and cooperate welfare needs to be exposed and eliminated. Campaign contributions need to be limited so that special interest groups and those with money and privilege are prevented from manipulating the system.

I am imploring you to stay involved in the political process and vote for those who give a voice to the working people and the middle classes. Don’t allow hate, fear and indifference to prevent you from demanding that the system serve all of its constituents.

I encourage you to take a look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as representatives who champion the needs and rights of the working and the middle class.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel