2020

Banality

In his book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw quotes a county executive who says: “Our system of local government has barely evolved over the past one hundred years and we are still governed by these same archaic institutions formed before the invention of the light bulb, telephone, automobile and computer.” And, I say, that this does not simply apply to local government, but to the Federal Government and to a whole lot of other ways in which we human beings do things. Banality!

It hit me when during the Trump Impeachment proceedings the Sergeant at Arms opens the court session by saying: Hear ye! Hear ye! This is an expression that was originally: Oyez! Oyez! It is from the era of Medieval England and France and was used by the Town Criers as a call for silence and attention in the markets and plazas when some proclamation from the rulers was issued. Why, oh why, in this modern age do we still need to use this banal expression? And the answer is that despite existing in this Information Age, we are still on so many, many levels doing, saying, thinking, applying traditions and rules, laws and regulations that are way past their time, and, actually, sound truly ridiculous these days!

It also hit me when Adam Schiff was orating during those same proceedings and was saying with passion and intensity: “America believes in Truth. She believes in Right and Wrong.” Oy vey! I nearly had a stroke when I heard him say those words: Truth. Right and Wrong. How many of those politicians, including him, are sitting in our Congress and applying those words while overseeing the nation’s business? How, when corporate lobbyists fill their coffers and dictate our laws, can they be adhering to these words? How, when looking after their own prosperity before anything else could these words ring true? How, in such a cutthroat and partisan atmosphere could words like Truth, Right and Wrong resonate? It is ridiculously banal and hypocritical! The epitome of corruption! Do, please, read the article I highlighted below to see exactly how corrupt our system is, and how corrupt our politicians are, and how while spewing lofty words they manage to screw us so well! Disgusting!

https://theintercept.com/2020/02/06/congress-exxon-mobil-eastmed-pipeline-cyprus/

Recently, the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted to 100 seconds before midnight, the closest we have ever been to catastrophe. And, yet, efforts of politicians across our Planet are miserably failing to address our worldwide problems thus causing populations to convulse and to react in adverse ways making our situation even more dangerous and threatening. We have all abandoned our Responsibilities, Communality and Common Sense. We have been ceding them to those in power who, and especially during recent decades, have become even more corrupt than they have ever been! This is across the world! And it is simply because we have put Money Before and Above Anything Else! In that process we have trashed the Planet and are not stopping; we have abrogated every equitable and social contract that governments are elected to do in order to look after the people’s welfare; we have, and continue to, trample on every human value and any sense of justice that exists; we have enlisted culture – especially our shameful media – to corrupt, trivialize, commercialize and demean rather than elevate humanity. Yes, it is a very dismal picture out there for all those who elect to see beyond their own selfish cocoon while ignoring society as a whole.

How do they do that? How have they succeeded in this wicked endeavor for so long? Let us go back quickly to history – a history that our children and grandchildren are totally ignorant about due to the pathetic education that they are receiving – and let us take a look into one small area of our Planet centuries ago. (And, please, do not shrug your shoulders and say that you don’t need a history lesson from this old woman. We all do, because without historical perspective we are simply repeating the same damn mistakes all over again!) People existed in small enclaves where, generally, the “elders” were consulted and selected to resolve disputes and to see to it that there is harmony within their tribe. Pretty soon, a Strongman emerges from that small area and decides that he is the Ruler, King, Prince, Emperor, Ameer, or whatever title he chooses for himself. He enlists an army of followers, levies taxes, builds a bigger impressive abode and starts invading, killing and occupying the domains of other tribes thus enlarging his territory and accumulating more resources and wealth. That’s how Rulers came to be, and Not because God anointed them! Now, in order to continue being the Ruler he must have a fearsome army. As an example, the Romans dressed their army in shiny bronze helmets that had big red plumes attached to them in order to make them seem taller, more threatening and intimidating as they marched into battle with those headdresses reflecting the sun and endowing them with godlike splendor. They were also fed better than the citizens, paid well, allowed to loot all that they could from those they had chosen to vanquish, and licensed to rape and to acquire slaves. And, when they returned from the battlefields, the Ruler created ceremonies, parades and marches to hail and exult them and himself. Should any of the Ruler’s own Family, a General, or any Opponent decide to oust him, he was simply slain or, if that challenger was stronger then, he was the one eliminated. That was the process through which for thousands of years humanity has been ruled. This has not changed much these days, even though we speak of lofty ideals such as Democracy, Equality and Justice. These have always been the purview of the Rulers, Elites and Supporters, with a little bit trickling down to the citizens in order to give them the illusion of fairness. It has Never been fair. It has Always been unequal!

Once Kingdoms and Empires cemented their rule over their domains, they then expanded to conquer even wider, further-away territory. That was the dawn of the Conquistadors, Colonists and Settlers, which, primarily, expanded the wealth of the White European Nations, and witnessed the founding of White America. Two World Wars paved the idea on which the arrogant Europeans, and the new Americans, decided to continue with their colonist expansionism. Under the guise – utterly so! – of bringing Civilization to what they deemed to be an Ignorant, Backward World they have been ravaging the Planet. And, as should be obvious to anyone with enough sense, their ultimate Power Play is to Control the World’s Wealth and Resources through Military Power, Intimidation and by Creating New Enemies to satisfy the money-making Capitalist war-machine, because warring with someone else’s sacrificed children has always been easy for the Privileged. In other words, Bullying humanity into Submission, whether today it is Venezuela, Iran, Palestine, or any other through the ages. Forget Negotiations and Coexistence!

Therefore, Donald Trump is not any aberration to this doctrine. In fact, he personifies it, probably more overtly and brashly than any other White Western leader, but the doctrine has not wavered since Colonialism. If you need any proof, witness the near-silence over the Muslim Rohingya, the Chinese Uyghurs, the Muslim population of India (all due to Western Islamophobia), amongst other discriminatory practices such as homophobia, as well as the total disregard, disrespect, humiliation and abasement of indigenous populations (xenophobia) who are being decimated, and minorities all over the world whether they are black, brown, or purple, and whether they are Palestinians, or Arabs, Africans, Asians, or any other ethnicity that is non-White and, therefore, not allowed to be part of the Modern (or, Neo) Colonist Enterprise, but will remain the Vassals in the service of that Enterprise.

So, When do we Evolve and change this Unfair Formula? I do not have the answer, but, certainly, it seems that it will remain so for quite a long time to come – although there are definitely glimmers of hope here and there – unless, in the meantime, the climate crisis envelops us in its floods and fires, or, some ego-maniacal bully presses the red nuclear button after which it will be to all a goodnight! Scary enough? It really should be!

General

Darkness and Light

Yes, it does seem that there is more Darkness than Light these days, doesn’t it? On so many days after I wake up and after finishing up all I have to do, I go around with this nagging feeling that there is something I need to do that I haven’t done. It is a very disconcerting sensation. What? What else did I need to do? I check and re-check my agenda, my lists, and rack my brains time and again only to come up with Nothing! I become frazzled and uneasy, but hours later I realize that it is the sorry state of our world that I am unable to fix, or to do anything about, that is causing my troubled and helpless feelings! Moreover, it seems that barely have we begun to process one dramatic world event when another one overtakes it! This rapidity in which events are happening is causing so many of us to feel Whiplashed often! That, too, is unnerving!

A serious moment of Darkness came with the untimely death of Kobe Bryant, his young daughter, and seven other people in a plane crash. Do any of us know when, and how, that moment of our demise will be? While Kobe left a shining legacy, do the corrupt amongst us think of theirs and, maybe, try to mend their rotten ways? It does not seem so!

Yet, it is not always Dark on our Planet, and it is those moments of Light that give me hope. One such moment came about as I was viewing a news clip depicting how the charred forests in areas of Australia were birthing new life as magnificent looking plants and flowers were emerging from amongst the blackened landscape. It was breathtakingly beautiful! The power of nature to emerge after such catastrophic blazes, as well as after volcanoes and other natural disasters, is absolutely amazing.

Yet, there is that cloud of Darkness fluttering over our Planet in more than one place. Recently, and with the emergence of the Coronavirus that was detected in Wuhan, China – that has apparently been there for a while – and which started spreading pretty fast, a panic was beginning to set in. The virus may have been caused by snakes, or bats, or other filth in an overcrowded, unsanitary warehouse full of some rare animals whose meat is sought-after. This caused the Chinese Government to put cities in lockdown and the World Health Organization, as well as health officials around the world, scampering to contain its spread before it became a worldwide pandemic. As I write this, we do not know whether the containment efforts will be successful, or not. However, what is obvious is that when Conscience and Responsibility are applied among nations things can get done to mitigate the outcome of disasters, and if – IF – we are able to manage the spread of diseases and pandemics then we are very well capable of managing the climate crisis, conflicts and wars through cooperation, dialogue and negotiations and not through the barrels of our guns. Not difficult, really, should we set aside our Arrogance and Greed.

The above mentioned human traits of Darkness were on full display at Davos, Switzerland where the richest people on our Planet gather every year to rub shoulders and schmooze as they devise more ways to enrich themselves while giving all sorts of pathetic excuses why they cannot raise employee wages, support universal healthcare and education, as well as making sure that Justice prevails throughout the societies that are the vehicles through which they have amassed their wealth. Unbelievably sick!

And, while attending the Davos Forum, President Trump announced in one of his many appearances that “we have the cleanest air and water.” I guess he does not realize how gutting the Environmental Protections of this nation are causing immeasurable harm, and, I guess, he was not told of the latest study which states that over 40 cities (and probably many more) in these United States have water that is contaminated with toxins of all sorts and kinds, including medications. Are other countries checking their water? They should had Conscience and Responsibility not evaporated from many corrupt governments to be replaced with Arrogance and Greed!

However, protesting masses of despairing people all over the world are demanding that we should end all this Corruption on all levels of society that are leaving in their wake more injustice, more poverty, more inequality. They are “storming the Bastille,” so to speak, and I doubt that they will stop until there is some Light instead of Darkness in all our lives.

Arrogance and Greed have also been on full display recently with the corruption of Isabel dos Santos who has been enriching herself with the embezzlement and theft of the national wealth of Angola. What an evil woman! Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar is another wicked woman! However, a shining Light was the ICG (International Court of Justice) which ruled that, indeed, there was ample proof of the genocidal efforts by the government of Myanmar on the Rohingya and directed that they had to be protected from this atrocious crime, one that Suu Kyi and her heart of Darkness continues to deny. Santos and Kyi are perfect examples of the Arrogance and Greed that we are seeing all over our miserable world. What a stark contrast are these two immoral women to Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Sanna Marin of Finland, two inspiring elected leaders who are bringing refreshing rays of beautiful Light to our world. Amazing! May there be more like them sprouting up all over our Darkness!

Speaking of the Rohingya genocide, world leaders were commemorating the Holocaust in Jerusalem 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Russia and the Allied Forces. It was a somber and painful reminder of the pure Evil and Darkness of Hitler’s soul, as well as all those who supported and conspired with him. World leaders present at the ceremony gave moving speeches, amongst whom was President Putin who was egregiously uninvited to the commemoration of the end of WWII in Paris during June of last year, which was an unashamed omission by Macron at the time. After all, Russian casualties during WWII were about 24 million humans, including 11 million military casualties. An appalling number! Think of what dire events might have occurred had Russia not intervened in Poland and smashed Hitler’s hordes (and I realize that there is an ongoing feud between Russia and Poland regarding the interpretation of that segment of history). In any case, that horrific genocide of the Jewish people should, indeed, never happen again! It should never happen again to the Bosnians, the Rohingya, or any other people either. Period! President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that fact while giving their emotional speeches, and I totally agree with them. Yet, the beautifully done ceremony at Yad Vashem seemed so cynical and utterly depraved when only a stone’s throw away from Jerusalem, the Israeli Government was practicing a war of attrition and genocide on the Palestinian people of Gaza. How does that make any sense? How can this even be acceptable? It is very reprehensible to decry one genocide and not another, and it should be shameful to every Jew who recites: Never Again!

As I mention Yad Vashem, I remember my father and Pnina, a Palestinian Jewish woman whose ancestors had lived in Jerusalem for generations, if not centuries. Pnina was close friends with my mother and father. After The Nakba, when she used to attend funerals, or events, at Yad Vashem and/or Mount Herzl, she would tell her Jewish friends, amongst whom was Moshe Dayan: this is not our land. This is Gabriel Deeb’s farm, not ours! And, indeed, that was my father’s property – at that time called: Sharafet Ein Karem. This is painful, very painful, as are the memories of over seventy years of dealing with this catastrophe!

On Tuesday, The Middle East Peace Plan, (Deal of the Century?) was finally unveiled. It was most certainly a self-serving, ego-stroking exercise for both Trump and Bibi. However, the devil, they say, is in the details, and I haven’t read the whole plan yet, but I have always believed in Negotiations rather than Violence as a way of solving even the most intractable issues. So perhaps at this juncture, and painful as it might be, we should all pause and give Peace a chance? Perhaps we should replace the Darkness of the past seventy years with Light?

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