The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 19: Juneteenth

5

June 19, 2020-

I relaxed, this evening, with a group of African-American entertainers and public figures, presenting a Facebook Live performance called Black Wave 2020. There were a wide variety of musical styles and civil presentations by competing office seekers. There was no vitriol, no cussing, and no displays of rage.

There was a very up front, definite commitment to acting towards justice, towards the systemic changes that need to be brought to bear. There was also the understanding that there will be resistance to such changes, and a few racists did show up in the comments section, to spew their nonsense. All in all, though, we who were watching were genuinely interested and appreciative of the show.

Change has to be made, and it has to be deliberate and transparent. We cannot have the history of THIS day and age presented to the people of the Twenty-second Century, in a sanitized form. That will take fortitude, and commitment. There are those who don’t understand the Oneness of the Human Race. I heard from one such individual today-with regard to the rights of unborn children, in his view, not mattering to anyone other than religious zealots. There are others who, don’t understand that People of Colour don’t want to be regarded with special treatment-just regarded with dignity and respect.

Growing up in a lily-white town, albeit in suburban Boston, I had to learn the reality of People of Colour, piecemeal: The African-Americans in my childhood and adolescence were authority figures: The cafeteria monitors in our Junior High and the first police officer to give me a speeding ticket. I’d have been punished, very swiftly, once I got home, if I ever gave them any lip. That told me that real African-Americans were not any different, to my parents, than anyone else.

Indeed, watching Saturday morning cartoons, one day, when I was about eight, a character who was supposed to be Stepin Fetchit came out with “Everything I do is always wrong.” That cut through me like a switchblade. I asked my father why anyone would say such a thing. He told me that Black folks were conditioned to act that way, having been enslaved for over 200 years. He also told me to show all people kindness and treat them fairly. I often thought that if I ever met the actor who played Stepin Fetchit, that I would shake his hand and tell him he was a wonderful person.

There were, though, some tough conversations, awkwardness and hard lessons, that came my way, in young adulthood particularly, in learning the nuances and basic decencies of overcoming some very deep-seated social beliefs. I am glad for all of them.

The Baha’i Faith lends spiritual weight to the notion that all people are created equal-All ethnicities, male & female, all age groups, both neurotypical and disabled, all points of view-so long as they don’t preach exclusion of others. We view all life as sacred,from conception to death. Independent investigation of truth is the bottom line.

Juneteenth, with all this being considered, merits being made a National Holiday- a paid National Holiday. Let it continue to spark thoughts, words and action, to advance the cause of justice- and the increased equality of all people.

Credibility

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May 5, 2020-

Fifty years ago, yesterday, four students were slain, at Kent State University, Ohio,  in the midst of a “tough” government reaction to protests against the VietNam War.  At that time, as now, there was a stark division between those who wanted peace and those who favoured a hard response to an identified enemy.  I was little more than a child, then, and even though I was on active duty with the United States Army, I felt strongly that there had been an overreaction.

Coming from this incident, there was a very intense backlash among people of my generation-especially among those in college.  Hippiedom was still much in vogue, as less than a year had passed, since the Woodstock Festival.  A cliche arose, as well:  “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that we’re not out to get you.”   There were also working class youth, like me, who were not exactly over the top for the Hippie culture, but still had our reservations about the Military-Industrial Complex.

Fast forward to the current crisis.  Many of the same people who had doubts about our government then, have the same reservations now.  The difference is in the target of those qualms.  Now, it’s the Scientific-Medical Complex, from Monsanto to “Big Pharma”, and anyone who stands to make a bundle off disease cure and prevention.

I will say this, having posted arguments from both sides on another social media platform:  At least half of the predicament in which large companies find themselves is a hoist of their own petard.  Lack of transparency always sticks in the craw of an educated populace.  Numbers have been fudged, quite frequently- and by those on both sides of an issue.  There has been fakery, to the point that one must even scrutinize the claims of fact checkers.

It all can be avoided by just telling the truth-but that may cost people money.  There is a hard choice to be made by many.

Truth Be Told

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April 25, 2020- 

Much in this world is discovered, up front, on a “need to know” basis.  We are both privacy-seeking and hierarchical creatures, by and large.  As a result, one, or more, of three things could happen:  1.  There is a small clique of people who know everything and dole out the facts of a matter, in dribs and drabs, if at all;  2.  A spokesperson, usually given a script, faces the public and either gives out facts in stages, or gives an opaque scenario-which may or may not even contain facts relevant to the case; 3.  A high-ranking member of an administrative team broadcasts both a large volume of information and goes off on tangents, designed to get the public to both blame the team’s perceived opponents and to go down one or more blind alleys and/or rabbit holes.

I’ve seen all three scenarios play out, over the past sixty years- at all levels of government, within families and civic organizations, and in corporations, both profit and non-profit.  I have been the recipient of untruths and have been asked to state untruths-for the “good of the order.”   I have had supervisors try to cover up wrongdoing, and have been dismissed from a post, for being too transparent.  The few times I was tempted to be dishonest myself, I proved unable to carry out the deception.  I have had someone try to throw up smoke and mirrors.  I outlasted the individual by a year, before voluntarily moving to another position.

People deserve to hear the truth, to the extent they can handle it.  They never deserve to hear a lie.  If there is information someone can’t handle, at a certain time, it is best held for a time when he or she CAN handle it.  Lying or deflecting is the stuff of a benign tyranny.  I see this being done by people all along the political spectrum, showing that people in power frequently have a very hard time trusting those who put them in power, in the first place.

There will be many changes coming out of this pandemic.  I hold out hope that a healing environment of truth and personal responsibility will be chief among them.

After the Fire

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February 27, 2020-

As the back and forth, about who is responsible

for the current rapid meltdown,

drones on,

it is as good a time as any,

to think of ways

that such a collapse

doesn’t happen again.

When it’s run its course,

there will be people,

most of us, actually,

who will have roles to play

and communities to rebuild.

Europe and northeast Asia have done this,

and America has provided the game plan,

so we know what to do.

There are also three things

that ought to be added

to the next recovery plan.

1. Science needs to be de-politicized

and de-monetized.

Yes, research needs financial support,

but with no strings other than

what is inherent to conduct it ,

to completion.

2.  A universal currency,

not as subject to the buffeting

of fear and whimsy,

as the current chockablock arrangement

of so many national currencies,

needs to be established. (Baha’u’llah prescribes this.)

3.  Transparency, borne of confidence,

must replace the secrecy that is the child of fear.

Treat people as if they are capable

of handling the truth,

and they will rise to that level,

even if haltingly at first.

I see a glorious day.