Monday, August 12, 2019

Honestly, kids!

Sierra Nevada 

    For the sake of history, this is unavoidable, though I've tried. It's for Addie and Henry, for when these present days of ours have become history.
     I've been listening, reading, staring at the sky, the mountains  and just thinking. Here it comes. 
     Honesty is strength. Behaving with virtue will enable Humans to exist. The prospects of survival, as individuals and as a specie, are extended if navigated by the courage of telling the truth. 
hard truth
     The DNA of the US includes racism and genocide. It brings sadness to think of why that is so, but those circumstances are antecedents of our present strife. It has always been such.
     The USA's piece of this American continent had an extensive history of population and culture before the arrival of representatives of European Royal Society and Trading Companies "laying claims," and declaring sovereignty. 
    Even the notion of "discovering" the land carries with it a shortsighted and naive ethnocentrism. It is also imperious.
     And yet here we are, the end product of a process that began by European culture, in many iterations, stealing land, and trying to lord it over the culture and history that was here.  
     To assume the Spanish, Dutch, French, English, Italians, or others were better than those who lived here is itself a seed of the very racism and intolerance that courses through our mixed blood line and that plagues us today.
     Few people want to put their head around that. It is not something of which to be proud, though some are.
    It is a truth some seek to deny and most choose to ignore. It is an ignorance that allows our destructive chimera to breath.
    Europeans settled here and initiated behavior that was an invasion. Land and property were stolen, populations were deliberately killed, local culture, government, and religion was over run and outlawed. In time, even after we fought our war of liberation, our national government made and broke treaties and lied and sent the army to suppress, control and kill. It is true. That is who we are, in part.
     We are also people who have risen up and struggled against arrogant power and abuse to win gains though it has required hard fought struggles over two centuries
    The suffragettes suffered horribly, just to win women the right to vote. Pay equity is still a fight.
    Our immigration policy has been inconsistent, politically used and abused, and randomly capricious for ever. Yet emigre's enrich our culture and always have. 
    The War of the Rebellion, referring to the official compilation of the records is the detailed history of the years this nation spent years killing each other over the matter of slavery.    
     Slavery was not an American invention but it became an inherent part of our invention. The Founders owned slaves. African Americans were not full Americans, were considered only 3/5 human and were evaluated that way as much as convenience of economy and finance as personhood. 
      We have never fully healed or recovered from what the war seared into our psyche. 
     There has been no resolve for the slaughter of indigenous nations or the crimes committed against them in the name of US citizens. 

   This old Tee, a beloved gift from my daughters, expresses
a plank of my politics. It is true.  

   These are ugly times because ignorance is widespread, the president plays on fear, Putin's Russia is working overtime to divide and destabilize us, it is an old art of war and espionage. 
    Too many pay too little attention. We are occupied with our diversions, or in our own silo of information, or just not thinking. And so we repeat mistakes. 

why not emulate success?
    In the 1960's when President Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights legislation proposed by John Kennedy, who was killed in November 1963, he had to overcome the power of racists in the US Senate, even members of his own Democrat party. Working with his moderate and liberal Democrat allies he reached across the political aisle to the Senate Republican Leader Ev Dirksen of Illinois. They did political deal making and the US finally passed both a Civil Rights Law and a Voting Rights Act. 

a rise of regressives
     Today the president is a racist. Republicans work for suppressing voting rights. The Senate Republican leader is an obstructionist, behaving like both a racist and a Russian enabler. 
    The Democrats have no central party leader and they are dicing each other trying to gain advantage in the presidential campaign. They are divided between moderates, liberals and progressives. 
    The Trump government separates families, cages children, refuses to act on the outrage of gun violence, is led by an irrational liar who does not read nor understand history. 

      But we never truly step into the same river again, currents like time move on.
       Our history defines shifts, changes, improvements, advances, and progress too. We hope a wave of change will rid the government of regressives and bigots in our next election. And we hope the election is fair and secure and that we again respect knowledge, information and learning.
      Addie, Henry, I hope by the time you somehow retrieve these thoughts from Poppy, you will find that we have again listened to our better angels and sought to make life better for everyone. That we uphold human dignity and liberty. And that we do so by telling the truth, recognizing our faults and working to make ourselves better people and the world a better, safer, healthier, happier place. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are good political objectives. From where you are I hope all of this looks like a temporary aberration, like a recurrent bout of a vestigial infection that we slowly are trying to cure. I hope you are safe once again, though vigilant.

     See you down the trail



  1. When the slave ships were off to Africa, there may have been a voice on a ship that said "I don't think this is a very good idea". Of course, he would have been called a bleeding heart liberal and ridiculed by others for his insight and concern about the consequences of what they were doing -- Nothing has changed. Foresight is everything and is based in TRUTH. Hindsight is just a kick in the ass. -- I've got to get that T-shirt.

  2. Excellent history lesson and an eloquent call to electoral action

  3. As right as you are, and as dismal as this all sounds, I walk through my neighborhood in the evening and greet people from many cultures and places. We have many immigrants here and we are all getting along. There is hope.