LYING, CHEATING & BULLYING: AN “AMERICAN NORM” SINCE OUR FOUNDING
In light of the impending Mid-Term Elections next month, and the many controversies brewing around it, the theme for this podcast is: LYING, CHEATING & BULLYING: AN “AMERICAN NORM” SINCE OUR FOUNDING.
EVERY month, there is a New Moon and Full Moon and every two weeks, we have the opportunity to “ride” these powerful cosmic energies, to flow WITH the forces that move our world, universe, galaxy, and multi-galaxies in all dimensions in a never-ending process of life. By going with the flow of the New and Full Moons, you can make choices that compliment these movements instead of being UNAWARE of these forces, and thus remain confused, angry, stuck or closing your eyes and wishing it to be “all over.”
DIVISIVENESS & THUGGERY
I want to address the growth of divisiveness and thuggery in American politics. Let’s first do some American political history basics.
Everyone in this country is very well aware of the vocal and vociferous divisiveness that characterize today’s politics. Yes, that is an outstanding characteristic of the quality, tenor and tone of our political exchanges. And yes, I agree that it has gotten so out of hand that the general rule of civil, civic engagement — arguing with each other over substance and issues — is instead, taking second or even third seat to name calling, insulting, and outright lying. And while this incivility, hostility and complete unfairness is a sad, dismal affair, our hand-wringing about it distracts us from the truth.
What truth is that? From the beginning and at pivotal points in our American history, our society has always been VERY politically divided over SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES. Such divisive American politics — like the 50-48 Senate vote confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — stems from our own American founding history.
Take for example, William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, one of the most prominent American Patriots and a Founding Father of the U.S. William Franklin was a steadfast Loyalist who supported the British throughout the American Revolutionary War by organizing military units to fight on the British side. Between father and son, their differences were irreconcilable. At the end of the war, William went into exile in Britain and lived in London until his death.
So, disagreeing — and splitting over politics — can and have, throughout American history divided people, families, countries and continents from each other. So, don’t throw your hands up and give up at the divisiveness we are seeing today. Yes, it is unfortunate, but again, and especially in regards to today’s political struggles, what we need to keep clear is the CONTENT of the politics, itself.
But then, what about all the pushing, lying, bullying and outright violence over those disagreements? Isn’t this going too far? Yes, of course it is. The Charlottesville, South Carolina’s “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally last year AND yesterday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh Jewish Synagogue that killed 11 people —is waging political struggle on another and worse level.
But politically motivated violence, unfortunately, is also an integral part of our American history and politics. In the founding of this country, “The Sons of Liberty,” — best known for leading the “Boston Tea Party” — was a secret paramilitary organization formed in 1765 to advance the rights of European colonists in North America. “The Sons” have been enshrined in our history as the epitome of American patriotism — but for what? For stealing onto cargo ships — dressed as Indians, to put the blame on them, instead — and dumping out tea worth more that $700,000 in today’s dollars. Most Americans now think laughingly about the “Tea Party” incident, but the Sons of Liberty were not abou”fun and games.”
They stockpiled arms, shot, and gun powder, and recruited thugs to use force, intimidation, mob rule, and the tactics of fear and violence to accomplish their political ends. Look it up yourself! “The Sons” led mobs that attacked, destroyed and looted the homes of their British and Loyalist opponents, especially tax collectors, and held the people hostage and in some cases, subjected them to or threatened them with “tarring and feathering.”
These were not “publicity stunts” where no one got hurt. Tarring and feathering was an infamous medieval torture practice of public humiliation brought over Europe. Weapons, force and violence were used. It was all very, very real. The victim was stripped naked or to the waist; then held down while hot tar (meaning, 140°C) is poured on, followed by feathers stuck to the tar. This 3rd degree burn was severe and deep and its removal entailed “scraping” off the tar, leaving red, raw and bleeding skin throughout.
This kind of unofficial mob rule justice did not end in this country with the American Revolution, but was employed throughout for those seen as “threatening” to established political and cultural views, such as labor organizers, German immigrants and Catholic priests. Most famously was Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, or Latter Day Saint movement, who was dragged from his home during the night of March 24, 1832 by a group of men who stripped, beat and tarred and feathered him.
Drawing on this American legacy of political thuggery then, it is not surprising that paramilitary white nationalist hate groups have grown astoundingly in the number and influence in the past decade. All in the name of “protecting America.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the latest count is over 950 such groups, with white supremacist movement and neo-Nazi groups seeing the greatest growth — 22% in the past year alone.
It is this same brutish legacy behind Pres. Teddy Roosevelt’s 1900 foreign policy of “speaking softly, but carrying a big stick.” As I wrote in a previous blog, in 1939, America did NOT allow the docking of a ship load of 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. This is no different than Pres. Trump’s ICE policy of separating children from their parents seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border, many of which have not yet been re-united. These policies were enacted in the name of “protecting American interests.”
In all cases, fear of the “foreign other” was weaponized, literally.
What does this “history spotlight” mean?
By being ignorant of, masking over or just plain “forgetting” that thuggery is an integral part of our founding history, we Americans today have a very immature and distorted version of American history and politics — one which omits the “means” of brutality while naming its violent “ends” as patriotic and American. What was the purpose of dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, which was already in retreat and losing the war? Ta-da! America had THE biggest, most deadliest weapon and DID use it. In that single instant, America became the #1 world superpower and Pres. Trump, has publicly threatened, several times, to “use it again.”
The result: We stand shocked, aghast with our hands wringing, and most importantly, politically disarmed, when we see such thuggery rise again. We are completely unprepared, and remain unprepared, in disbelief, and more importantly, in resignation, as if there is nothing that we can do about it.
Why is this important and how does this connect to what we can do today, politically? in regards to today’s political struggles, political divisiveness and thuggery are setbacks and we need to draw upon our inner courage to call for a return to civility and peace, yet know that we MUST keep our eyes on the CONTENT of the politics at stake, itself.
BACK TO HISTORY AGAIN . . .
The 1776 American Revolutionary War for Independence by the colonists against Britain did not have the full support of all the colonists or even at times, the majority of the colonial populace. But more importantly, the political yearnings for freedom of Black people were NEVER a serious consideration. Despite the grand, inspiring words of our own Declaration of Independence that proclaimed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” it never meant women or people of color. These were not benign omissions.
For example, the political future of the Black slave population was, in fact, a critical part of the political debate. Not for their freedom, but rather, for the continuation of slavery itself. It was the British, in fact, who offered freedom to any Black man who joined the British Military to fight against the colonists! Approximately 20,000 Black runaway slaves served in the British forces, while only 5,000 served in the American Continental Army. When America won the War of Independence, former slaves had to be returned to their masters or financial compensation paid in their stead.
Slavery was debated among the Founding Fathers, but because the ESTABLISHMENT and COMMERCIAL SUCCESS of the original colonies was based on the slave economy itself, America had “made a deal with the Devil” at its very founding and we have been living with this self-blinding, closed-hearted legacy ever since.
THIS is why our politics are so polarized . . . because the foundational truths and values we FAILED TO HONOR THEN can no longer be buried. Look at all the thousands of global #MeToo survivors who have “risen up” to speak their truth. Whether the assailants have been or ever will be held accountable, the new AGE of AQUARIUS, the dawning of peace of harmony, is upon us. Truth itself is breaking down the hierarchies of class, race, gender, and sexuality powers established and maintained over thousands of years before now.
These long-buried, but not forgotten truths are “rising” to the surface and confronting each of us by the POLITICAL CHOICES we make today, tomorrow, and the day after and the next day after that . . . on, and on, and on and on.
How can we accept and reconcile with such a sordid past? Yes, it is important to learn the truth of our past. But more importantly, to recognize them, not only as political wrongs — which they are — but also DEEP SPIRITUAL WOUNDS: gaps, pock marks, bruises, abrasions, cuts, stabs and in some case, near-fatal blows to our moral character. As with anything done wrong that must be righted, it begins with knowing the truth. And that truth is we, American people, are sorely ignorant of our own history. While established on lofty, inspiring goals, we have applied them unfairly, discriminatorily and with prejudice, favoring a ruling elite over all else, including the very Earth we stand on.
Yes, there were politicians, clergy, business men, pilgrims, farmers, soldiers, sailors and working people of all classes among the colonists. Yes, they also founded a more democratic society inspired by values of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And yes, they and all their descendants benefitted from the natural wealth and resources that was the bounty of America. But to do so, they STOLE the land, lives and future of all the millions of indigenous people already here, then enslaved more millions of African people to create the commercial crops they built on those stolen lands. This is why the IDEOLOGY of racism was created — to mentally justify theft, genocide and enslavement.
The 13 original European colonies of North America, which became the United States of America, was created through acts of selfishness, hatred, brutality, violence and genocide. Our country was created and built on this foundation. This is the truth, the deep, dark, and open spiritual wound behind all our dilemmas.
Once we, as a country, begin by acknowledging what we really did, what we failed to do before, and what we thought was good for all but really only benefited the few . . . THEN through self-forgiveness coupled with actions to “right such wrongs,” these spiritual wounds will begin to heal and the political, economic, social and cultural understandings necessary to transform the world that we have built will follow.
It will likely take another 100 years to do so, but the time has come and the transformation is unfolding. The choice to begin this process is a simple, “yes.” Though the journey will be unimaginably difficult, together, all is possible.
Where do YOU go from here?
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See yourself from the inside/out and become empowered in your grace, beauty and power.
Rev. Dr. Trinity
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