What’s going on?

Aren’t most of us numb in the face of the number and severity of assaults on our social and political norms, on the rule of law, on the unraveling of civil liberties, against the lawful mechanisms to influence change and have oversight on our government, on our economy, on our health and our very lives?

Especially unnerving to me are the recent dismissals of so many inspectors general, the filling of so many senior positions with those who support the president, and publicly calling for the prosecution of his political enemies. We’ve been moving deeper into authoritarianism for over three years now.

Even more disturbing are the callous decisions that will unquestionably lead to a massive increase in the numbers of COVID-19 infections and death.

I’m a strong believer in critical thinking, which often results in conclusions divergent from what is accepted as truth. That can make it difficult to speak out about your conclusions. You wonder if your thinking is correct when so many think otherwise.

Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that many have already come to, that what appears to be the unbelievable incompetence of the government has instead diverted attention from the policies that are accomplishing their goals.

When President Trump, Republican leaders, right-wing think tanks and billionaire CEOs aggressively push to send people back to work before the coronavirus is contained, this is not a “reopening.” It’s the opposite: an unraveling of the conditions that we need to safely and sustainably reopen our society. While the red herring of a “reopening” has dominated news cycles and Trump administration press conferences, the United States has moved ever further away from what we all desperately seek: a point at which this all ends, and it’s safe to go to the library, stroll maskless through a park, eat dinner with a loved one, and go to work without fear. The Right doesn’t own the “reopening” terrain—it has forfeited it by barreling down a road that leads to mass death, suffering, and more and more closures down the road.

TRUMP’S ‘REOPENING’ IS A RED HERRING By Sarah Lazare, In These Times. May 15, 2020

A recent article by Robert Reich lists a four step plan for the Trump re-election strategy.

So what is Trump’s reelection strategy? Ignore the warnings of public health experts and reopen the economy at all costs.

  • Step 1: Remove income support, so people have no choice but to return to work.   
  • Step 2: Hide the facts.
  • Step 3: Push a false narrative about “freedom” and “liberation.”
  • Step 4: Shield businesses against lawsuits for spreading the infection.

Here’s the truth: The biggest obstacle to reopening the economy is the pandemic itself.

Any rush to reopen without adequate testing and tracing – a massive increase from what we’re doing now – will cause even more deaths and a longer economic crisis.

The real reason Trump wants to reopen the economy. Robert Reich reveals Trump’s reelection strategy by Robert Reich, Salon, May 15, 2020

We’ve been trained that it is bad form to bring up Hitler and the Nazis’ rise to power and the horrible things done in the concentration camps. But now is the time to consider the parallels of what happened there to our present situation. What happened in Germany happened because of the silence of the populace. Because Jewish people were demonized as “others”, their lives of no value. They served as a scapegoat. To create conditions that would make the public support the Nazi’s agenda.

We have our own concentration camps now, of course. Massive numbers of people of color in particular, with absurdly long sentences for nonviolent crimes, imprisoned. Now trapped in conditions ideal for the widespread coronavirus infections and deaths. I can’t imagine how that feels.

And the huge numbers of people trying to immigrate into the US have been placed in their own prison camps. Including thousands children and babies, separated from their families. Who isn’t sickened by this, other than those who created these situations?

The question is how can we do something about these conditions? Even the often ineffective public protests aren’t safe because of the risk of infection (other than the protests of those who don’t believe in the virus).

Social media posts and online media sources are only seen by those with the same opinions.

Not only is the administration and most of Congress in the grip of special interests with vast sums of money, but the last bastion of hope, the courts and justice system have also been corrupted.

Where are the charismatic, moral leaders like Martin Luther King? I admire and have attended gatherings with Rev. William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign. But this movement is struggling to be heard.

Where are the people of faith, including myself?

As many of you may know, I’ve sought opportunities to build friendships with and learn from indigenous peoples. Initially related to our environment and Mother Earth. But increasingly I’ve become convinced that indigenous leadership offers answers to the abuses above. I treasure the friendships I was blessed to make on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. That opened so many door to continue to learn.

As a recent example, the concept that Capitalism is the Pandemic illustrates more penetrating ways to see what is going on.

I’ve also been learning a lot from the live discussions of indigenous women related to SHIFT-Seeding the Hill with Indigenous Free Thinkers. A project my friend Christine Nobiss helps organize and speak at.

I’ll close for now with this quote from my friend Ronnie James.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James

One blog post in particular that speaks to these ideas is The normal we had was precisely the problem.

This entry was posted in climate change, Indigenous, Poor Peoples Campaign, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What’s going on?

  1. peterovisoke says:

    All of this rings completely true to me Jeff. Well articulated blog post that puts our existential time in the right framework. How much of our privilege will be let go of to be allies of those who can lead us to a better world? How much real personal risk will we take to do that? My own dilemmas mainly underscore that these are “problems of privilege” or “First World problems.” How can we lift up the voices and help unleash the power of the “majority world,” to use the term that Bangladeshi activist, writer, photographer and “institution builder” Shahidul Alam offers us instead of referencing the “global South” or the “Third World”? I visited an exhibit of his photography at the Rubin Museum in New York this past January and I have been starting to use “majority world” since then. Of course the true “majority world,” would be inclusive of all Beings! Human and non-human. Animate and inanimate. Or perhaps all that is IS animate, with Spirit immanent in rocks, rivers and rain. In everything. https://rubinmuseum.org/events/exhibitions/shahidul-alam-truth-to-power

    • Jeff Kisling says:

      Thanks Peter. I guess you could tell I was a bit unsure about this one, so I appreciate the feedback. Also thinks for the intro to Shahidul Alam and “photography as a tool for justice.”

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