Sunday, July 30, 2017

All Things Being Equal

I have watched the movie Lincoln a dozen times or more, now. Forgiving the filmmaker's habit of glossing and smoothing over history to present a coherent narrative thread, it is still a window into a time when the story of equality was still raw and jagged. A time when it was far easier to dismiss those of darker skins to being inferior to the marbled and mottled white of the Founding Fathers.

At one point, Daniel Day-Lewis' President Lincoln relates learning of Euclid's First Axiom: Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. It is a jumping off point for the coming vote on the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery, per the story.

Euclid spoke of the "self-evident" nature of his Axioms. They were true because they were true. They were bedrock principles of geometry and mathematics; neither would function without such things as the First Axiom being true. The movie extends the idea that perhaps this could be considered a starting point for that immortal phrase, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are create equal." More importantly, it applies the idea to people, that they are, in fact, all people.

What seems self-evident to modern eyes was not so to 17th, 18th, or 19th Century ones. The movie accurately, but perhaps too softly, portrays the revulsion of White men at the idea they might be considered equivalent to Black men. Opposition to the Thirteenth Amendment was not necessarily because anyone wanted to promote slavery further, or maintain its legality, but due to the idea that millions of freed Black people would demand equality under the law, and White men were not ready to give it to them.

We step one hundred fifty years into the future, and the idea of equality has taken on broader connotations. There is still the Black-White divide, as healthy as ever, written into the very marrow of our society, but now so many other groups are subject to variations on the theme. Hispanic and Latin individuals, members of the LGBTQ community, the disabled... humanity has had equality divvied up and partialed out in microscopic quantities to be fought over by many groups, like a pack of ravenous animals, while the White power structure works feverishly to retain the power to do the divvying and partialing out. The result is the inevitable: White fear of extinction driving us to an administration wholly incapable of running a nation, populated by those who were never capable of doing so in the first place.

If the current situation does nothing more, it should galvanize us into action. We've been deficient in our maintenance of government, and lacking in the moral firmness to drive bigotry, hate, and greed from the halls of Congress and the Oval Office. It's time we stopped assuming that someone will take care of the things necessary to restore order. That was always our responsibility. Many Founding Fathers were skeptical we could do it, but they gave us the power nonetheless. If we were slow to recognize the coming onslaught, we have enough outrage within us to light the fire necessary drive it back. If we take action.

We, who are enjoined to affirm and believe in equality, know the stakes. It is not just the equality of race that must concern us, though this does run through every other area of concern. We must establish equality of Justice. We must establish equality of Income. We must establish Equality of Health. We must establish Equality of Care. We must establish Equality of Education. Most importantly, we must establish Equality of Representation, for all time. It is time for the Constitution to receive proper upgrades, and safeguards, and to retire those parts of it no longer relevant to the modern age of humanity.

This is on us. All of us. But it starts with those of use who carry the same privilege as those who now seek to roll back the clock on American history, to a nonexistent "gilded" age. The easiest way to tear down a system built on White privilege is by White privilege, from the inside. If we are reticent because we are afraid of what we will lose, then we do not understand that we have already lost it. No amount of freedom, liberty, or justice we may hold means anything while it is shared unequally with our fellow citizens of all types. If we do not work to ensure equality in all things, we stand to watch our society tear itself apart as these groups try to wrest from us what we could simply impart by our efforts on their behalf.

It is no longer possible to maintain the current state of affairs. We fight for what we know is right, or as President Lincoln once said, our nation stands to die by suicide.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Moving Forward

A wise man once said:
If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, whatever you do keep moving forward.
This is my single favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. He said a great many inspiring and grand things in his time, but this strikes a chord within me. I wear the mantle, proudly, of "Progressive," because it's root is "progress" and that is what Mankind has done throughout its existence: moved forward.

The journey forward is not always easy. Dr. King could certainly attest to that. The journey forward is not always swift. President Barack Obama can attest to that. The journey forward is not always safe. Representative John Lewis can attest to that. Some never get very far in the journey forward. Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and many others can attest to that.

In my heart, I know progress is a slow, painstaking, agonizing road. Most of us who hew to the wisdom of it know we will not see the fruition of the actions we take to bring it about. Every Progressive is heir to Sisyphus, pushing the stone that is the burden of shoving a mewling, kicking, screaming humanity forward, only to occasionally see it roll back.

We stand in that moment now, aware that the stone we have struggled to roll forward stands to kick back toward us. Like Sisyphus, we could see this as a part of our punishment for hubris, and we should, for while we have pushed the stone, some among us have made it harder to move. There are those who will not push, because the stone is not what they want it to be. There are others who see pushing the stone as a waste of time, and look fruitlessly for another stone that will be easier to move. To be true Progressives, we must all push the stone together, and take what little movement it makes as progress nonetheless.

The struggle to move forward is never-ending. There is no stopping for breath, as many are wont to do, when a milestone is reached. For whatever progress we have made up to that point, there is much further still to go. We should never be satisfied, we should never be proud, of where the stone lies; we should always be asking ourselves: Where must the stone go now?

At this moment, the stone is inching backward, threatening to gain momentum and crush us beneath its weight, because we took our eyes off the ultimate goal: freedom and justice for all. All the gains we have made can be erased in an eye-blink of human history if we do not set our feet, place our hands on the stone, and keep pushing. Some may use their Herculean strength, some their full might, some a mere hand, others maybe only a breath, but the sum of all our force is necessary to keep the stone moving forward. No effort can be counted as too small, save no effort at all.

What happens in the coming weeks may well determine the fate of a nation. If it is to be so determined, then let each of us, to whatever level we can, to whatever amount of force we can muster, push this great nation forward against whatever tide opposes its progress. A flake of snow has little weight, but a mass of such can form a mighty avalanche. Let us be that avalanche. Let us be that force. Let us continue to move forward.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Straining At Invisible Chains

There is no Emancipation Proclamation for bigotry.

There is no Civil Rights Act for hatred.

There is no Civil War for racism.

No matter the extent of actions taken to drive out slavery and tamp down the racism behind it, it will not die. It may be strangled, it may be driven under rocks, it may be forced from the light of day, but it rests below the surface, sits quiescent in dark corners, and it waits.

The Black portion of America is straining at invisible chains. Ephemeral, insubstantial, but as strong as the strongest irons that ever held their ancestors in the bottom of ships bound from Africa. Chains forged in racial supremacy, scientific impurity, and patriarchal psychology, by a White race that has done its level best to make every effort to prove its inherent superiority while simultaneously proving Black inferiority. No amount of blood on the battlefield nor ink on paper has rid America of the scourge of systemic, endemic racism.

We can proclaim progress, we can point to a Black President and a museum dedicated to the African-American experience, we can point to all the walks of life where Blacks can now be regularly found, and still there are the invisible chains. No Black person may be made to dance on the auction block, but they are still for sale in the marketplace of ideas, and the idea that they are a threat, that they are lazy, that they are expendable, are all bought and sold in blood and rhetoric.

Police still routinely shoot Black people who pose little threat to them, claiming "imminent danger." GOP Congressmen regularly denigrate Blacks as dependent on government, and a GOP Presidential nominee has lumped all Blacks into the category of having little or nothing to show for their efforts.

We can see, in the clear air of the 21st Century, the biases that wove the bonds of slavery, that built the self-reinforcing system that perpetuated the idea of racial superiority. We can see the tricks and obfuscations and tyranny used to continue to hold the Black race in thrall to the White race. Even with all the steps taken by so many, Black and White, to scour clean the stain of slavery and bigotry from the nation, like Lady Macbeth, we curse that apparent inability to blot it away. It seeps out from the pores of a nation that has defective cells in its marrow that perpetuate this cancer.

Where will the day come that a Keith Scott, or a Sandra Bland, or a Tamir Rice, or a Mike Brown, or an Emmett Till, might walk down the street and not be the subject of the depredations of police? When will legislators understand that affirmative action is the redress for a system that was designed to prevent Black inclusion in colleges and universities? When will the Voting Rights Act no longer be necessary?

Right now, our nation seethes, as one man has brought into the daylight the bigotry and racism most decent Americans have tried to hold down for decades. Donald Trump's atonal ignorance on matters of Blackness is only superseded by his willingness to overlook the overt racism of many of his followers. He cannot see the chains that still bind Blacks to centuries of scorn and sabotage and slavery through White supremacist attitudes. It easier to claim on one hand that no one has helped them, and on the other that they need to help themselves, and that somehow, he alone, can be their emancipator, though his history is strewn with his own racist tendencies.

Now, in our nation, we finally have a chance to deal a severe blow to racism. We can take the Republican response to a Black President, the odious and fatuous bigot that is Donald Trump, and thrash him at the polls. Every decent American has a chance, through their ballot, to proclaim what we know in our hearts: there is no room for racism anymore. We can repudiate Trump and the minions who follow him, and deal them a death blow of seismic proportions. We can ring the bell of freedom for all Americans loudly and fully, by showing our Black brothers and sisters that we will no longer tolerate their being bound to the past. We can, once and for all, take up the hammer of justice and break those invisible chains.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

False Flag

There is an insidious false flag operation going on in our nation.

There are people and organizations who are trying to convince you that having more guns solves the problem of gun violence.

Don't believe them.

They perpetuate the falsehood that having a gun keeps you safe. They cite how many gun owners are not the victims of crimes, failing to mention most are never involved in the perpetration of crimes.

They perpetuate the falsehood that having a gun in your home keeps you safe, failing to mention the continual rise in the number of people murdered with a gun kept in their home and the number of times the trigger is pulled by children finding unsecured weapons.

They perpetuate the falsehood that the duly-elected government cannot be trusted with information about gun ownership because it will come for their weapons, when nothing of the sort has ever happened.

They perpetuate the falsehood that "good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns," even though in many States with open carry and concealed carry, no one with a gun ever seems to step up to stop the commission of a crime before it occurs.

They perpetuate the falsehood that those who are routinely shot by others were malcontents who had it coming, especially where those people are people of color or "foreigners."

They perpetuate the falsehood that they need to be able to protect themselves from the government, even though they have filled the government with hand-picked shills who knock down every piece of legislation designed to regulate guns or gun ownership.

They perpetuate the falsehood that the Second Amendment is inviolate, even though the framers of the Constitution made sure any Amendment could be amended as time passed and society changed, and nowhere does it say anything outlined in the Constitution cannot be regulated.

They perpetuate the falsehood that guns solve the problem of crime, when they clearly only exacerbate the level of death any individual can mete out in blind fury against real or imagined slights.

They perpetuate the falsehood that only the mentally ill and the criminal use guns for ill purposes, when many who have perpetrated crimes of mass killing have not been mentally ill or criminal, and were easily able to obtain weapons to carry out their plans.

There is a well-known public facing organization that is mouthpiece for much of this, which constantly blows the horn of warning to the paranoid, delusional, and bigoted, warning them that decent Americans are their enemy, that anyone who wants to see guns properly controlled and registered is unworthy of respect. They will work to ensure that not a single step is taken to rein in the proliferation of weapons of mass death, wrapping their cause in the flag and the Constitution, both things they have desecrated with their petulant rancor and obstinacy.

Behind it all, are those who manufacture these horrid weapons, and their only motivation is greed. Bathed in the money that comes from stoking the cycle of violence, they work only to ensure the safety of their ill-gotten gains, and not the people of the nation. They know that every massacre will simply flood their coffers with more blood-soaked dollars, as the paranoia they have sown causes people to buy more guns and work harder to stem their regulation, in the name of "safety."

When anyone tells you there is a conspiracy revolving around guns, tell them you know, and tell them that the sooner gun manufacturers and their mouthpieces are dismantled, the sooner the conspiracy will end.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Importance Of The Day

It would be easy to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

It would be easy to tie his actions and words to actions and words today.

It would be easy to say what he would and would not have approved of.

That's really not what today should be about.

What this holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, should be about is what we are going to do to make America a better nation.

There is no standard here. This is no living up to a legacy. There is no anointing a cause. There are the actions and words of a man who fought to bring a measure of equality and dignity to others of his race by challenging the system of privilege and prejudice that even The Civil War could not erase. His words, if they can be considered to have effect, are not things to be etched on glass or stone; they are missives to be taken into the heart and mind, to push the body forward to action when it sees injustice.

It would be easy to debate what the man would think of what we see today, but we cannot know. The assassin who struck him down deprived us of that opinion. To infer from what we know, is to claim a knowledge of the inner workings of the mind that is impossible to countenance. He has left us and his thoughts are free to fall where they may.

It isn't important to attempt to wind Dr. King around the events of today, only to see his influence in allowing them to happen. If "Black Lives Matter" has risen from the pain and suffering that was the death of Trayvon Martin and so many others like him, it is more important that that movement find its own voice and fly by its own power than be yoked to Dr. King. The man laid down the path, much as Jesus did, and asked us to walk it with him and to keep walking it after he was gone. That is what the day is about.

Demonstrate. Help. Donate. Read. Pray. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Lift up the downtrodden. Demand justice. Lift your voice. Stand up. Do whatever you can, but do it. Honor Dr. King, not by reliving his life, but by living it in your own way.

He was the way. He was the light. Take up the lamp. Walk the path. He will walk with you.