Insurrection Is Not The Way

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January 6, 2021- After getting a welcome adjustment from my chiropractor, this evening, I happened by downtown Prescott, where a small group of Trump supporters were standing on the northeast corner of Courthouse Square, as they have been doing, at least once a week, since 2015. Quite often, there will be a group of progressives standing either across the street or on the northwest corner, at the same time.

I have seen the two groups even mingle, at many public events on the Square, since I moved here, in 2011. The only times there has been tension have been when rumours, of mobs from out of town coming this way, have circulated. There are always a few disquiet individuals, usually driving by in their vehicles and shouting profanities at whoever is in view, or egging on those they sense might be easily drawn into a fight.

That is not the Prescott way. Many have growing up to do, with regard to getting along with people of colour or with those whose politics differ from their own. The larger community, though, has adopted a “Live and Let Live” ethic. That was how I was raised, in a hybrid Conservative/Liberal family, albeit in one of the most conservative communities in Massachusetts.

The main divide, as I see it, has two parts: 1. There is a sense, among those who get up early and turn in a full day’s work, rely on their own efforts and have a strong sense of tradition, that “Socialists” are aiming to take from them and give to others. In fairness, this comes from high rates of taxation and the extent to which the workings of government entail secrecy. If people don’t know the rhyme and reason of matters that affect them, it becomes easy for manipulators and grifters to move in and get them stirred into a frenzy.

On the other hand, are those whose forebears, or selves, have been shoved to the back of the line, repeatedly, by self-styled elites, in terms of full participation in civic and economic life. These elites have not been shy about simultaneously turning to the group that may be one rung higher than those on the lowest level, and cautioning that group against trusting those underneath. The argument has always been, “Look, those _______________ are coming for what’s rightfully yours”, whilst either the taxes go up or rights and privileges, for ALL those under the elite groups, are systematically snipped away.

It is human nature to let others handle certain aspects of life which are viewed as either boring or distasteful. When those chores have to do with rights and freedoms, such “delegation” can, and does, get rather dicey. It has, especially in modern times, become analogous to the shellfish in a pot of cold water, that is slowly heating up and which will turn the shellfish into a meal. There is always a quid pro quo, when someone comes to us and points out discrepancies, “which only they can fix.”

Those who are genuinely worried about losing rights and freedoms can’t afford to let clever or manipulative people of privilege, whether liberal or conservative, sweet-talk them into doing dirty work. This was done before, by the Planter Class of the antebellum South, who had little trouble recruiting lower-class white and First Nations people to do the dirty tasks associated with the system of enslavement and , later, to fight in the insurrection against a Federal government that was moving away from supporting that system. Conversely, a similarly cynical and rapacious Industrialist Class had little trouble engaging that same Federal government to recruit lower-class white and African-American people to try and subjugate First Nations people, both during and after the Civil War.

I saw today’s actions on Capitol Hill as reminiscent of the French Revolution, which, as we know, did not result in wholesale gains for the downtrodden masses. There are those who wanted only to take a deep dive into the electoral process of 2020. But for the lateness of the hour, and the fact that it has already been done, in several modes, that would have hurt nothing.

There were those who have long felt unheard and unloved by society, their only misfortune being that they have not been “in vogue” as a protected class. If each such group were to look carefully at history and look ahead to what is likely to transpire, long term, there would not be a rush to the feet of demogogues. There would be quite a bit of coalition-building, and it would very likely NOT involve the elites, at least for quite some time.

Insurrection, done in the heat of the moment, requires a different sort of power coalition. It involves making deals with those already holding certain levers of power. The original American Revolution succeeded partly because European enemies of Great Britain jumped into the fray. The aforementioned French Revolution is one example-it being whipsawed by the external enemies of the House of Bourbon. Sudan’s recent revolution was eased by manipulative elements in the country’s military, who now, wonder of wonders, are holding the balance of power. The same would happen here, and those fearful of socialism would find a different set of external totalitarians calling the shots, were today’s events escalate into full-blown rebellion.

There is always a quid pro quo, when one turns to power groups with their own agendas to do one’s baleful tasks. The only way forward is to adhere to the basics that were provided us, by the Framers, and later the Amenders, of the United States Constitution, a time-honoured, and much emulated, road map of governance. That, and the common people talking and listening to one another, across lines of ethnicity, class, religion and way of life.

Insurrection is not the way.

Timeless Things

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January 5, 2021-

I am pretty much “bounced back” from the twenty-two miler. It’s nice to be “retired” and to be able to sleep extra, when needed. Pinky swear, though, the lessons I took from Copper Mountain Loop will not be cast aside. I got in a mild workout, this evening, at Planet Fitness, with no creaks and groans, so all’s well again.

On a wider front, there are those of my friends who legitimately are concerned about the days, months and years ahead. Let me say this:

The rights of children, to safety and well-being, are timeless, and inviolable.

To no one is given the right to violate the person, safety, health and well-being of another human being.

Elders are due the respect afforded by their years of service, to family, community and nation.

No one is entitled to extralegal privilege, based on the cleverness and stealth of their planning, or the loudness of their voice.

Leaders, regardless of ideology, cannot cherry-pick which laws they will follow, or which citizens they will protect.

Citizens who deny the human rights of people, with whom they disagree, are taking de facto leave of true citizenship.

Be safe and well, every one of you.

The Fast: Day 17- Compassion

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March 18, 2018, Tucson-

Visiting a good  friend, northwest of here, I found myself invited to a performance by a group of refugees from DR Congo and a few other African nations.  So, on this rainy morning, we headed back into town and contented ourselves, in the on-again, off-again showers and chill, with greeting and making the young singers and dancers feel at home.

They showed an enthusiasm that belies their horrific experiences with the conflicts that stem from tribalism and greed.   The emphasis of their messages, in both song and dance, is on unity of effort and on, thankfully, gender balance.  America’s youth are not the only ones showing the way to a more equitable world.  African young people are taking the Cape buffalo by the horns and setting their elders on notice, that suffering of the common folk is no longer an option of convenience.

Here are some scenes of their performances.

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The songs they sang were of gratitude to the U.S., and Tucson, for welcoming them, and giving them a chance to recover from the horrors of tribal and regional conflict.  These are all young people on a legal path to citizenship, having been brought here by the International Refugee Council, which hosted a “Walk A Mile In Their Shoes” event, following the performances.

It is a central tenet of Baha’i belief, to succor those fleeing from persecution and slaughter.  I was proud to be hugged and called “Brother” by these amazing young men and women.

Fear Factors

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February 19, 2016, Prescott- This week has been a bit rough, although work resumed for two days and I did have a nice dinner with friends, last night.  The difficult part has come from the number of attacks, two of them pointedly personal, that have come my way this week.  Last night, I received a written death threat, which I take only mildly seriously.  The person in question has neither the physical or financial wherewithal to put an end to my life.  Today, someone on another medium said that, unless I supported building a wall on the Mexican border, I was not entitled to claim citizenship.

We have devolved into a “my way or no way” mentality.  It’s not just in the United States, that this is happening.  Europe is finding itself overwhelmed.  India and Indonesia are experiencing the resurgence of religious fundamentalism, to say nothing of what is going on in Africa and western Asia.  Mexico has been rigid, in not letting migrants come in from Central America, or from Cuba, for that matter.  Even a small nation like Nicaragua puts those seeking a better life, in detention camps.

Otherwise good people are turning on others, mostly out of fear- that their livelihoods will be lost, that their families’ safety will be at risk and, more existentially, that all they cherish and believe will be upended.

I have three thoughts on this whole phenomenon.

1.  Remember the French Revolution.  In a nutshell (no pun intended), the common people rid themselves of leaders who looked upon them as less than human.  After that, there was no game plan, except to continue the carnage, until the Revolutionaries had decimated their own ranks- and Napoleon stepped in, restored a monarchy and only slight improvements had been made in the public weal.

2.  “The Earth is but one country, and Mankind its citizens”- Baha’u’llah

We do best to see all other people and nations as our relatives, by extension.  There need to be rules, sane and intelligent boundaries, and no one should enter another’s home, without leave of the owner.  Each family, city or town, county, state/province, and nation is entitled to having its boundaries, and its laws, respected.  Nonetheless, there cannot be the sort of racism or ethnocentrism that only perpetuates misery.  There also cannot be the economic colonialism that demands people in one country suffer, so that people in other countries can indulge themselves with habit-forming drugs that foment death and destruction, both for the people around the producers and for the consumers.

3.  Everyone is entitled to seek the truth of spiritual, intellectual and metaphysical matters for themselves.

Groups have arisen, from ISIS to the American Tea Party, that rely on fear and loathing to keep their agendas moving forward.  Again, I refer you to the late, unlamented Jacobins.  The Ku Klux Klan, Khmer Rouge, National Socialists, the “Know Nothings”, and various tribal armies-of-slaughter, throughout history, have followed the same path- sometimes with deadly violence, other times with the violence of the mind.  In both cases that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my response was immediate- I will think, and speak, for myself.  I have served the United States of America, and will not give up my citizenship; nor will I ask that of my critic, who was born here, also.  I will follow my own schedule, protocol and regimen, with regard to my daily life, and not give in to threats, of any kind.

The challenge, before us all, is to put fear in its place.