It seems to be common concept today, that the world has become a place of greed, selfishness, and violence; that racism and biggotry are alive and well, and that the people have become far too complacent to make a difference.
I certainly agree that complacency is a very real and very prevalent problem. However, as for the rest, I cannot help but think that, for the most part, they are not as pervasive as we are lead to believe. I think “they” (the status quo, the powers that be, the “man behind the curtain”) want us to think this way because it divides us. When we are divided, we are weak and isolated and, as such, we are more easily prone to fear. And fear, to the corporatists and the religious right, is the most valuable of all emotions because it is the most easily manipulated; just look at our post 9/11 world for evidence of that: two wars, the Patriot Act, and a religious revivalism calling for a theocratic state. I think, that if we looked closer, we would see that much of what is coming across as selfishness, racism, and classism, is really more the manifestations of the fear that the corporatists and religious right have spent the better part of the past few decades cultivating and manipulating.
Now, this is not to say that there are not some truly selfish, racist, and/or classist people out there, because there are, I just think that they are the exception rather than the rule. When you look at the political rhetoric of the extreme and religious right (not always one in the same), you see how this is. Religious leaders, like Pat Robertson are clamoring about the impending doom of Sharia Law, while right-wing political leaders insist that illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs, raping our women, and getting our kids hooked on drugs. Everywhere you turn someone on the extreme right is telling us there is something to fear: the gays want to destroy marriage, the terrorist could be hiding anywhere and everywhere, Muslims want to undermine our Christian heritage, there’s a war on Christmas and Easter, the liberals want to take your guns!
Let us look at some of these thing for what they really are:
1) Immigrants, illegal or legal, are not stealing our jobs, the corporations are. Thanks to free trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the WTO, the US has lost 5.3 million jobs.
2) Illegal immigrants are not increasing crime; in fact, several studies have shown that, aside from the act of being here illigally, most of these immigrants do not engage in violent or other criminal behavior.
3) Sharia Law is not coming to America. Nowhere in America, not in one place in this country, is Sharia Law being introduced let alone enforced. Ironically, though, the Christian right is attempting to impose their interpretations of Biblical law on the nation; for evidence of this all we need to look to is their adament stance against women’s reproductive health and LGTB rights.
4) There is no war on Christmas or Easter. We live a secular society, populated by people of many faiths; therefore, in an attempt to be fair, the media, the government, and the public in general avoid making blatantly religious statements that alienate large numbers of people. We have religious freedom in this country and, as I wrote in a previous post, it is not just for Christians. We are all free to practice what we believe and celebrate whatever holidays we choose. There is no war on Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday the religious right hold dear.
5) Liberals are not trying to take away your guns. Firstly, some of the most stringent gun laws have been proposed by right-wing members of congress. Secondly, gun regulations, which aim to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those deemed mentally unstable, help keep the rest of us safe, they do not prevent law abiding, sane citizens from owning guns; something President Obama recognizes and respects. I am a liberal, and I respect the Constitutional right for law-abiding and mentally stable citizens to own guns; and I know lots of liberals who think so as well.
The status quo can only survive if we the people are too busy looking upon our neighbors with suspicion to notice that our freedoms, our livelihoods, and our dreams are turning to smoke and fading away. The status quo can only survive, or rather thrive, if we the people are too afraid of the allegedly impending doom to stand up and demand living wages, quality education, affordable and quality health care, a clean safe environment, an end to unjust wars, and social and economic justice for all. As long as we are afraid, the corporatists maintain their positions of power and continue to reap the benefits of it.
The solution? Well, it’s far easier than you think…the solution is us. If the people start working together, stop seeing each other as enemies and begin to recognize that we are all victims of the same corrupt system, we can begin to affect the change we all want….A government that is truly of, by, and for the people.
This post was originally written, on August 5, 2011, for another blog for which I write. Given the recent mass shootings, the mass turn-out in support of Chick-fil-A, and the general fearful sentiments expressed by people on both sides of the great political divide, I found this post particularly relevant and chose to publish it here.