Many of us are bewildered and dismayed by how our society has come to the point where white supremacy, hate and Nazi symbols are on open public display. And how the president and his administration are enabling this.
Our governmental systems have been eroded in many ways for many years. Gerrymandering has made many of our voting districts unfairly represent one party or another. Money in politics has made serving corporations instead of people what drives many politicians. Many of those corporations, and an unconscionable and growing proportional of our Federal budget is related to militarism. Our increasingly warlike foreign policy has devastated many countries and fueled the rise of terrorism. Many other corporations are involved in the fossil fuel industry, which has purposely mislead the public about the climate change, actively worked against the transition to renewable energy, and promoted invasions of other countries for their oil.
Both political parties have made their goal winning for their side, instead of crafting legislation that benefits the country. Too often judicial appointments are made on the basis of ideology. Our system of checks and balances is no longer very effective.
We allowed corporations to buy newspapers and media outlets, whose content is too often driven by ideology and the need to make profits. Many of our educational systems degraded to the point where we no longer have an informed citizenry. Political dissent has been criminalized, and militarized police and private security forces are employed against protesters. Entire segments of our population are imprisoned by blatantly disproportional sentences.
As a society we have fundamentally failed to provide for the basic needs of a significant number of people. We have not adapted our economic system to changes in automation, unemployment and the rise of the service industry in a way that ensures everyone has the resources they need for food, shelter and healthcare.
All of these things have fed into our current social, economic, environmental and political crises.
These things do not happen unless large segments of the population allow them to. The Nazi symbols should remind us that millions of people were exterminated, and millions of others died in the second world war, because the people kept silent and allowed it to happen.
We are in the situation we are in now because not enough of us spoke up, and it was allowed to happen.
We can complain about the alt-right, the Trump administration, etc. We can and should protest nonviolently, write letters to the editor, lobby our representatives. But change will only happen when the populace engages. You can help your friends and neighbors do so.
A nonviolent response is absolutely essential. The water protectors at Standing Rock ignited a global movement of support with their incredibly disciplined commitment to nonviolence. Unfortunately violence from some of those opposing the white supremacy rally was used by the president to deflect much of the criticism of the alt-right. This should be a lesson learned.
There aren’t going to be easy answers or quick fixes to these long standing, fundamental issues. The problem is much deeper than President Trump.
But we are the answer, and nonviolence is key. Core to nonviolence is examining ourselves first, seeing what changes we need to make in our own lives. And secondly, the goal is not to defeat, but instead to convince others to join in common cause.
As Rev. William Barber said in his amazing speech at the Democratic National Convention, we need to be the “moral defibrillators” of our time, and “shock this nation with the power of love”.