Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year's Re(v)olutions

Obama in Rosa Park's seat
POTUS sits in Rosa Park's seat
"It would be a good idea"
Mahatma Gandhi, when asked his opinion of western civilization.
Putting content into fine words would be the greatest of revolutions, now and always. 
Cynics today might be forgiven for thinking that the words of Jesus are often only used as a cover for serial child abuse, but who could doubt that if only all those with four grandparent that called themselves Christians, practiced only the following Christian precepts: to love their neighbors as themselves, to do unto others as they would have others do unto them, to never cast the first stone and then  forgive others their trespasses, then most of the world that even today considers itself civilized would instantly be like heaven on earth. However hypocritical Christians abound and we are as we are.
I cannot imagine that anybody would call Jesus himself a hypocrite, he certainly walked the walk, no space between his words and his actions, however hypocrites can often say memorable things too.
An example: perhaps the greatest hypocrite in America's history, Thomas Jefferson, a brutal slave owner, a sexual exploiter of his slaves, wrote the most powerful words in the American canon, words that rival the Bible in their grandeur and echo: Jefferson wrote that line, "All men are created equal"...
Despite Jefferson's hypocrisy, citizens trying to fill those words with some meaning brought about a revolution in my lifetime.
How hypocritical were Jefferson's words in America's mouth?
An example. In the segregated South, during World War Two, during America's war against fascism, African-American GIs, wearing the uniform of the United States army, often found themselves riding in the back of public buses while German POW trustees rode up front with the local white people.
How is that for hypocrisy?
The Civil Rights movement changed that. Today, with all the endless caveats you can apply, a black man is the president of the United States. He is the Chief of State of the most powerful country in the world, sitting in the White House, the tenant of a building where during most of America's history the only black people ever seen there were butlers and waiters.
People got lynched, went to jail, marched and sang for the photo that tops this post. J. Edgar Hoover would spin in his grave if he saw it. There are people still spinning when they see it.
So, if enough people make their minds up to change, to change themselves, then to change the world, then change is doable.
I would say that during the coming year, the next set of fine noble, words that need to be reconsecrated, refurbished and refilled with meaning are Abraham Lincoln's from his Gettysburg Address:
"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".
To do that the Citizen's United verdict needs to be overturned and campaign financing needs to be regulated. Any meaningful change begins there.
The goal is clear, now the question is, who is going to bell the cat?
Happy New Year!


walt said...

This uncertain period of insanity is not yet finished. The crackpot right still exerts veto power in Congress, and there's no sign that the craziness has peaked let alone ebbed. Probably nothing has more empowered them that the idea that government itself is the problem, that it's corrupt and inefficient. And only the free market (in reality, crony capitalism) can make things better.

We're not going change their minds since they're possessed by beliefs immune to reason and example. This cold civil war is being fought simply because of this. If We the People means anything, it's the compelling idea that we can reason, that we don't need to collapse all distinctions out of reptilian fears. The right is nothing without these fears, and the primary one is loss of status in a society of equals.

There's no guarantee here that this interlude of dysfunction will end happily. A paralyzed government can be a mere inconvenience if the period is relatively short. But in our case, this period appears to be indefinite. Once we inure ourselves to paralysis, the cynicism becomes common sense. Best to guard your assets in Swiss bank accounts, live in gated communities, and send your kids to private schools. That's the siren song of the right. They want We the People to fail because they never believed it in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Only Zer0bama believes he can drive from the center of the bus.