If You Believe This You and the Country Are in Trouble
Where Hope Is Not Coming From:
Not from Nazis, white supremacists, nor semi-literate rednecks. They are the very elements that have been stifling hope for generations.
Not from the alt-right. They have gone beyond activism to corruption and from there to absurdity.
Not from televangelists, prosperity preachers, born-again hucksters, nor the power of prayer. You’ve tried all that for centuries and look where it’s taken you.
Not from a Civil War or uncivil uprising. Luckily, those dudes strutting their assault rifles up and down the streets of Charlottesville would not stand a chance against a company of Marines. This supposes the Marines would be on the side of the freely elected government. Is that too much to suppose? (Note: This was written before Marine General Jim Mattis made his reassuring watershed statement the other day on the military and domestic politics.)
Not from fast-buck billionaires. Having a lot of money does not necessarily make you a better person or a model for young people. You can be dead smart for making money and mortally ignorant for everything else.
Not from war profiteers, their lobbyists and on-the-take Congressional and judicial types who, by the way, are currently running the country. You have to get them out of government first. In theory that’s easy. Just expose and discredit them. Then get out the vote against them. (This presupposes a free and fair election. Is that too much to suppose?)
Predators are replacing peace makers, preachers are replacing professors, demagogues are replacing thinkers.
Not from ignorance. Great countries require experts to manage them for the greater good of all. They must be guided by cool-headed rational thinking. “Faith-based” thought is not thinking and it has no place in government.
And certainly not from a morally-challenged, know-nothing president who, midst multiple crises, can only concentrate on his ruinous reelection strategy.
Where Hope Can Be Sourced
From more civilized countries: Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, Iceland…
From interior opposition to the lowbrow-led, American wrecking-ball government…
From honest, new, unconventional politicians with the welfare of all Americans–and all the rest–at heart…
From independent, courageous, investigative media…
From progressive pre-school education initiatives, starting with every Montessori school in the USA. From schoolteachers from grades K through 12. Fine teachers engender fine young people. In the most advanced countries teachers are highly educated, valued and well paid. How did resource-poor Finland become a world leader? By investing in the education of its young people.
From humanitarian thought leaders in progresssive American universities…
And, last but not lease, from concerned activist citizens…
The omission of “political parties” on this list is not an oversight. If serious progress in the United States is to be achieved it will be in spite of Republicans and Democrats, not because of them.
Authenticity Is Being Replaced
Predators are replacing peace makers, preachers are replacing professors, demagogues are replacing thinkers. Americans are buying into dubious futures: future wealth, the kingdom of heaven, world conquest, the promise of benign climate change, the belief that money can solve everything… No, the billionaires who buy land in New Zealand are not “secure.” Nuclear winter reaches every nook and cranny of the planet.
False-Hope Scams Abound
Freedom of markets is not freedom, any more than libertarianism implies liberty.
The Promise of Technology–Technology is morally neutral. It’s all the same to a Hellfire missile to take out a terrorist as to carbonize a saint. Artificial intelligence promises just as much danger as progress. Medical technology must be used to cure humankind, not to design advanced torture techniques or methods of mind control. Technology is like every other form of power. It’s great in the right hands. And those hands should belong to people who read.
Miracle Religions–A person’s religion–however far-fetched it may seem to non-believers–is an intmate, private, matter to which no one can object, and it is rightly protected by the US Constitution. What is not legitimate is that citizens of certain religious stripes should band together to influence the election of legislators and the appointment of judges on religious grounds in attempts to flip the country’s principles to those of their own religion. That’s an offense to other people’s religious freedom. The “freedom of religion” guaranteed by the Constitution also implies freedom from religion.
When religious groups are called out for meddling in politics they have no right to take refuge in “freedom of religion” pretensions. That “freedom” that coopts other people’s freedom is toxic. It’s hypocrisy and repression. And governments that adopt religious groups as political allies also lack legitimacy. Any religious cult that functions in an advisory capacity to the US government is an offense to American democracy, an offense that is all too frequent. Countries do not achieve greatness through prayer nor miracles. They achieve it through good hearts and expert project management. The other pending issue on the government agenda is the rescission of tax exempt status for “prosperity gospel” religious scams. American televangelists have too many private jets already. Government has the power to end those frauds. The only imaginable factor holding it back is the votes their followers represent, votes that are conceivably capable of getting President Donald Trump reelected.
Military predominance–America’s awesome military power has so many downsides that it cannot be credibly considered a safeguard for the country. Its use has been abused so many times, both overtly and covertly, with such disastrous results for the people of so many innocent, unsuspecting countries that it discredits the US around the world. It’s that discredit that causes the extensive and unnecessary bad blood between the government of the United States and major international institutions: the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and any other international organization that tries to limit or sanction American abuse of power. What is the principal product of American military dominance (the Pentagon refers to it as “full spectrum dominance” and it extends to outer space and the electromagnetic spectrum)? Principally they make, enemies. Most of them are helpless victims, others less so. But after decades of America’s amassing enemies unjustly, what happens when they reach critical mass? Then there’s the nuclear threat, enhanced recently by President Trump’s boosting of the budget for advanced nuclear technology. That’s clearly a dangerous step backwards. Is this “enhanced” nuclear policy just another bone for the dogs of war, a mere cog in his insatiable re-election machine?
Quick money schemes like crypto-currencies, junk bonds, ponzi schemes and mortgage scams. And if someone invites you to become a “trader,” hold onto your hat.
“Free-market” capitalism. Freedom of markets is not freedom, any more than libertarianism implies liberty. Capitalism, like other great ideas–Christianity, Communism–has been coopted and perverted by turbid interests that invariably work against the common good. Unregulated freedom of markets empowers monopoly and is the enemy of the commonwealth. And technology only multiplies its negative effects on society. Meanwhile, far-right ideologues extol the free market as if it were supernatural truth, and their semi-literate followers lap it up.
Mere Hoping Is Not Enough
Hope doesn’t arrive by coincidence, nor by divine decree. And it doesn’t arrive prefabricated. Hope has to be planted thoughtfully in well-prepared soil, then cultivated and nurtured throughout a long season. That preparation has been conspicuously lacking in the United States, at least since President Kennedy’s untimely death in 1963. It’s not that Kennedy was a Messiah. He had grave flaws (see Seymour Hersh’s 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot), but he wasn’t a monster.
Having wasted five or six decades of preparation, Americans today are seriously behind on all counts, a fact that has become sorely evident during today’s dual crises of coronavirus and Trumpism. If America and the Americans are going to come out on upside of this catastrophe they’re going to have to recover that lost time. This will require conviction, perseverence, hard work and, yes, hope. Hope such as they haven’t known since the Second World War. And if they don’t get started immediately the consequences could be terminal.