A Map of the World

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As a bumbling, stumbling out-of-control toddler lurches his way across the world, knocking alliances and good will into the trash bin and trying to redraw the map of the world, people wonder how he can still be followed by any sane person, let alone be shown homage by the majority of the one group that’s supposed to keep him in check.

A quote from Oscar Wilde came to mind this week and I was introduced to another from Thoreau by my Facebook friend Christopher. I see similarities in them and also a diagnosis of what is wrong with those who continue to enable a narcissistic, greedy wannabe dictator.

Years ago, I saw a play by David Hare called “A Map of the World.” Hated the play but loved the title’s allusion: “Any map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at.” Oscar Wilde

Then this from Thoreau: “Friends . . . they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.”

Both quotes are about vision and how one sees oneself in relation to the world. First, a person has to have a vision of the map of the world and then acknowledge the billions of other co-inhabitants of what the Book of Common Prayer calls “this fragile earth, our island home.”

How do people grow up thinking that they are the only people on earth who deserve any rights, any privileges, any chance of a fulfilling life? How do they grow up never, ever thinking about the needs of anyone else other than their closed community?

How is their curiosity so suppressed that they don’t ever wonder what it’s like to be an African kidnapped from her homeland and brought to a strange country where she must work and possibly (probably) be raped by someone who thinks he “owns” her?

How is their imagination so stifled that they cannot imagine what it was like to be a Vietnamese or Laotian or Cambodian peasant and suddenly find you’re the “enemy” to airplanes that drop bombs and napalm on your or murder you just because you happen to live where the “enemy” lives?

How did they never develop any sense of empathy that would allow them to imagine having their children kidnapped by the very people they thought would help them?

While “utopia” literally means “nowhere” (from Greek, uonot and topos – place), it was coined by Sir Thomas More to mean a place where all are equal in social status, in economic status, and in political status, a Garden of Eden if you will. More himself, we know now, cared little for the equality of women, whom he scorned, and married only so that he wouldn’t burn in hell for having sexual thoughts and desires.

Still, More’s notion of Utopia lives on, and Wilde’s concern was that our map of the world ought to include a vision for that perfect place. Being gay, and being therefore a criminal who was sent to prison for being gay, Wilde would have had a vested interest in a place where homosexuality was not a crime.

So should we, and let’s include color of skin, religion, language, and ability in there.

As for Thoreau’s beautiful sentiment, shouldn’t we extend cherishing others’ hopes and being kind to other peoples’ dreams to everyone on this planet? Why limit our empathy? Who are we to say that anyone else should not have hopes that we respect and dreams that we do not trample on?

Only willful and determined and carefully cultivated ignorance could possibly account for people to think they are supreme and that anyone not like them is not to be regarded equally. By “ignorance,” I mean ignoring everyone else who does not look, act, or talk like them.

If their ignorance wasn’t so destructive, I might look for excuses why white supremacists grew up without a map of the world or the empathy to cherish other peoples’ hopes and dreams. But that ignorance is evil and deadly, and there is no excuse for it.

 

 

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A Modest Proposal

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White Nationalists Hold Rally In GeorgiaFor preventing the White Supremacists in America, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public.

It is a melancholy object to those African-Americans, Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans, who walk through this great country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabin doors crowded with people who deny their right to exist on equal terms.

I think it is agreed by all rational parties, that this prodigious number of Fascists is in the present deplorable state of the United States, a very great additional grievance, and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these Nazis sound and useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

My proposal is thus: Let us empty out all the prisons in the country of those people of the ethnicities mentioned above who have been wrongfully imprisoned, over-sentenced, unfairly convicted, and/or any other fitting reason why those persons are not a danger to society.

This would certainly include all those convicted of low-level drug offenses now that recreational marijuana use is legal in so many states.

These facilities could thus be used as rehabilitation centers for those amongst us who believe they have a grievance because of their white skin and frail egos that make them fear and hate anyone with a different lineage.

Since many who endorse and support neo-fascism believe that homosexuality is a human condition that can be reversed, would it not therefore be profitable to see whether race hatred can also be reversed through a strict deprogramming method?

If the *president* can use terms such as “breeding concept” when referring to immigrants in California, perhaps such a concept could also be used in rehabilitation. That is, initiate a program of breeding among males and females of the guests at such facilities, remove the offspring immediately after birth and foster them in the homes of those marginalized communities that White Supremacists seek to destroy.

The children would thus grow up learning firsthand that they are but one part of the human family, no more, no less.

The closing of so many prisons would undoubtedly provide funding that could help the foster parents of these children. This model would also open up many jobs to people who have been kept out of the job market; it would certainly include a wide range of employment as it has been proven that fascism has no economic boundaries. Indeed, from Congressional and cabinet positions to law enforcement, there will be no end of opportunities.

It would also be provident to have the rehabilitation centers self-supporting; guests will grow their own food (they will have to become vegetarians as they will not be allowed to have any equipment that could kill animals or other human beings). They will thus learn thrift and get a taste of life as a sharecropper.

The de-childrened inhabitants of the rehabilitation centers could be hired out for menial jobs now held necessarily by those who will assume higher levels of employment and their wages used to fund their programs.

Yes, there are many details to be worked out, such as who should work as guards at these rehabilitation centers, etc. But I think that the basic plan should be carefully considered.

 

 

 

The Moral Universe – I Dream a World

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I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Langston Hughes

From Langston Hughes to Walt Whitman to Wilfred Owens to Joan Baez to Pete Seeger and John Lennon to myriad other poets and songwriters, I have only heard and read of pleas for peace in our world.

Yes, there has been poetry and music that beats a drum, but I have never heard or read of an all-out plea for war.

Until President Obama decided to use diplomacy with Iran, that is. Now most Republicans and Benjamin Netanyahu’s party want war. With Iran. Despite the agreement of most world leaders, weapons experts, military authorities and, I’m sure, Pope Francis.

The fact that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz want to stage a protest in favor of war in our nation’s capital, which I have just come from, on my birthday makes it that much more personal.

Because I believe I was born knowing that very few wars solve anything. There have been wars that have had to be prosecuted, and were, but with great anguish and soul searching. Others have been prosecuted out of direct defense of home and hearth. Others have been entered into with great reluctance.

But for the United States, I’m having trouble coming up with one that involved pro-war protests. Correct me if I’m wrong.

So I have to ask, is it me whose thinking is scrambled, or is it them?

I recently read Erik Larson’s In the Garden of the Beast (the title is a loose translation of Tiergarten, the large park in the middle of Berlin). It is the story of the first US ambassador to Germany, who was sent there in the early 1930s particularly to try to get the new Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, to abide by the Treaty of Versailles.

Ambassador Joseph Dodd was an academic, not a diplomat. He was not part of the club that ruled the foreign service at that time. He thought he had President Franklin Roosevelt’s ear, but there were many right there in Washington who really wielded the power of foreign service.

Unsuitable as Dodd was, and as naïve about Hitler as he and his infamous daughter Martha were in their early days in Berlin, they did begin to recognize the truth about Hitler and Goering and Goebbels as friends began to go into exile or disappear. The Night of the Long Knives, during which a purge against German officials who were not loyal to Hitler took place, sealed it for the Dodds. But the ambassador’s warnings to his government went unheeded, and while we can’t say for sure whether earlier US intervention could have saved them, six million lives were lost.

So are we appeasing Iran with the treaty and will it come back to haunt us? Am I an isolationist trying to pretend that the possibility that this is the worst thing our government could do isn’t real?

No, we aren’t and I’m not.

If I compare the early 1930s in Germany to the 2000s in the US, I see much more of the insidious evil of Nazism in the very Republicans who are so eager to go to war with Iran. They have compared President Obama to Hitler, but it is they who want to keep a white supremacist ethos in this country. It is they who fear and loathe the “other” and want to keep the “other” out. It is they who have been paranoid about everything from ebola to immigrants to weapons of mass destruction. It is they who keep the death penalty going and don’t really seem to care whether the prisoner to be executed is innocent or not.

I believe I was born dreaming the world that Langston Hughes describes so beautifully. I won’t let the likes of Cruz and Trump to turn that dream into a nightmare.