“If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.”
James Baldwin The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin recognized the tendency to embrace faith as a hiding place, to avoid confronting love. Confronting love Baldwin believed, included facing the terrors of life and the terrors of death. Baldwin said "Faith for many is a kind of hiding place. For many, where you don't have to think about yourself and don't have to change. Not have to be responsible for your neighbor." As a country, we have not been responsible to one another, nor are we capable of confronting "the terrors of life and terrors of death." And we certainly lack the capacity as one nation, to confront love; and the evidence is everywhere.
Las Vegas is not an anomaly. Rachel Blevins of The Free Thought Project https://www.alternet.org correctly points out "As the death toll continued to rise from the Las Vegas shooting, media outlets were quick to call it “the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.” However “the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history,” as tales of past mass shootings on American soil were unearthed." Apparently, when all the victims are Native American or black, over 900 deaths combined, it can be, initially easily overlooked by the media.
To have mass shootings at a grammar school, (Sandy Hook), a high school (Columbine), and a university (Virginia Tech) killing a total of 72 children and young adults- and still have little meaningful gun legislation to address it- is criminal in and of itself. One of these shootings, in a saner and less violent society, would have resolved this as expeditiously as possible. A country not moved by the senseless and preventable deaths of its' children to enact better laws gave birth to the mass shooting in Las Vegas. And based on the past and current behavior of our "misleadership" in Washington we will have another bloodbath on our hands soon.
America has become the cruelest and most violent planet in the industrialized world: internally and externally. The levels of industrialized violence unleashed from our failure in Vietnam, recently sanitized in Ken Burn's documentary, to our colossal defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq are staggering to comprehend. The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas reveals the incomprehensible amount of deaths we suffer from our homegrown terrorists. No advanced country or nation sees more death, war, domestic abuse, and rape, and does so little to solve it, like America.
The mendacity of such slogans as "thank you for your service" and "support our troops" or "caring for our children" (43% of U.S. children live in poverty http://www.nccp.org ) are equally about emptiness as well as they are about betrayal. Historian and author Andrew Bacevich critically observes that the reality of supporting our troops is mired in dishonesty and indifference.
Dishonesty pervades the relationship between the U.S. military and society. Rhetorically, we “support the troops.” But the support is seldom more than skin-deep.
In practice, we subject the troops we profess to care about to serial abuse. As authorities in Washington commit U.S. forces to wars that are unnecessary or ill-managed or unwinnable — Americans manifest something close to indifference. The bungled rollout of a health care reform program might generate public attention and even outrage. By comparison, a bungled military campaign elicits shrugs.
The indifference by Americans evidenced in politely tuning out anyone critical of our wars and our dysfunctional hyper-militarized nation. Rational, intelligent critique and denouncements of national security policies and current military debacles are dismissed or marginalized.
The criminality of Wall Street thugs and gangster banks that rarely face justice as they tear apart the financial structure of the country with impunity. The sociopaths of Wall Street http://www.npr.org engaged in one of the greatest American heists in the 2008 economic crisis. Goldman Sachs and the banks involved got rewarded with a 700 billion dollar bailout from its citizens.
Apparently, we have billions of dollars for the financial elites handling our money like drunken frat rats on a three day Las Vegas bender. "Too big to fail." gave birth to "Too big to jail." The crimes of Wall St. collide with the reality of our systems of education, medical care, and jobs that provide a livable wage become slowly decimated.
We are incapable as a country to care for our citizens with the most basic of human needs: health care, education, and a fair and equal justice system. Scholar and author Henry Giroux rightly argues "Moreover, the politics of disposability highlights a form of global capitalism in which the financial elite live in an immune culture of self-regulation and personal enrichment, CIA operatives who tortured people and were not prosecuted, police in the US who have made a sport out of assaulting and killing Black men, and for the most part are acquitted of their crimes."
The unexamined life is not worth living. The despair among the loveless is that they must narcoticize themselves before they can touch any human being at all. They, then, fatally, touch the wrong person, they no longer have any way of knowing that any loveless touch is a violation, whether one is touching a woman or a man.
James Baldwin No Name In The Street
If anything else is true, the days of leaving this world a better place for this and subsequent generations is over at this time. And this may be, by another definition, the most vicious of our criminal acts. We have to become reconnected with a vision of empathy, moral courage, and a quest for equal justice for all. To rip the hand of corporate control from our necks that dominates everything from politics, war, health care, and jobs.
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