I have often found when I had disagreements with one or the other of my kids, and when the argument was turning into a shouting match, that it was best to step back and let things calm down lest we say or do something that causes irreversible embarrassment – which did not always happen, as many Mamas will gladly and sadly tell you! It was the same when I had spats with my husband. We would both get riled up, the discussion would escalate into a heated tirade where we each felt disrespected and that our argument was not being given any considerate thought. At such times, the only way was to step back and let things calm down before we killed each other!!! I think that many couples would identify with this. Right? It is the same when we translate differences of opinions onto a bigger picture, one that involves disputes between political parties, or nations. Somehow, though, and despite having established a United Nations forum through which countries can resolve their quarrels; and despite having Geneva Conventions and other such civilized treaties, and despite the fact that we in the Western World are democracies with different branches of government supposedly to check and balance each other, we are, nevertheless, experiencing a very problematic situation on our political landscape here, in the US, as well as across our heating-up world – literally and figuratively.
This unsettled period of history that we are living in did not begin last year, last month, or yesterday. This assault on our legal, civil and human rights has been in the makings for a very long time. For those of us old people: we’ve seen this movie before. These are dramas that have been playing out throughout our history as a planet. And, oftentimes, the world experiences an “Aha” moment after all the dust settles down resulting in yet another positive leap to add to our long – very long! – journey towards becoming more civilized. I will quote one example that affected me deeply as I studied world affairs, especially that as students in Beirut, and thanks to Colonialism! we were more familiar with French and British literature and history than our own. I am citing the example of the dismal years that led up to the French Revolution; that gave us that “Aha” moment with the mantra of: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; and, about which Charles Dickens later wrote in a Tale of Two Cities in 1859. Here are the incredible opening lines from that masterpiece depicting the world then, and being perfectly applicable to what we are experiencing right now:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .
Historical Periods of such incredible dimensions produce massive and widespread turbulence. We can acutely sense and observe them frothing and foaming all across our world today. They do not paint a pretty picture, nor do they promise instant gratification for those of us protesting the rampaging inequalities. Moments such as we are living, more often than not, span over many years, or, decades and sometimes even centuries.
Some people might easily tell me: why are you so worried? From where you are in Fairfax County, Virginia, and as is that same view from Manhattan, as well as from many capitals and city hubs across the world, things seem fabulous. The economy is flourishing; people are working; their stock portfolios are bulging with cash; restaurants and entertainment venues are always full to capacity; very few are unhappy, or concerned with anything, or anyone, outside their immediate cushy and comfortable vicinity. So, what’s your problem?
The problem was encapsulated by an ignorant, racist Congressman called Steve King who said: “Culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Civilization, where this contemptuous bigot is concerned is Western Civilization, and those babies he mentions are my children, grandchildren and all the non-white children. Take a moment to think of this, and to see its echoes in Netanyahu’s Israel where Palestinian babies, as well as the second-class dark Jewish babies from places like Yemen, Morocco, Ethiopia etc. are a demographic threat. Look at Europe where politicians who think exactly like that are gaining more power by the day. And then, think of world history from the beginnings of the Colonialist Age and how White People occupied, massacred, disdained, marginalized, robbed of their resources, and diminished the civilizations and religions of the whole world, rendering the occupied Colored humans as uncivilized, untamed, irreligious, backward savages. Congressman King is in no way an aberration. He simply articulated the thoughts and convictions of many in the White World. They forgot that without the Middle East they would not have had their Christianity, or the basis on which their Western Civilization was founded! How amnesiac, evil and unjust are those perceptions!
Our nation’s capital has moved on since those vile words were uttered. I haven’t, because they come back every day and grate on my very heart! It is so disconcerting!
But what is causing this a-la-Steve King unashamed expression of what has been an enduring and un-articulated attack on the Colored People of the world for centuries? It is Fear! One can just smell it. Fear, Arrogance and Racist Hatred! It is the fact that the Colored People of the world realize fully well the onslaught of White People on their very existence, that they are more knowledgeable, less fearful and that one day, sooner or later, they will reclaim back their civilizations, languages, cultures, histories, religions, countries and demand respect and equality from their oppressors. At that time, White People would have to cease and desist from practicing their arrogant, uncivil and disparaging attacks on all of us Colored People. Knowing that this day will come, sooner or later – and that the arc of history is a very long one – they are doing their best to “tame and subjugate” the increasing numbers of Colored masses through mangled laws; skewed economics and unfair trade agreements; rewriting of history; wars and anything else that their arsenals contain. Fear, Racism and Arrogance! That’s their bottom line. For deep in their guilty hearts they must know that their vicious actions have been consistently wrong and extremely immoral. Otherwise, how could Western Governments stand by while this hourly carnage is going on in the Middle East? Not until it is all turned to rubble? Is that the objective? How else to explain it? It is heartbreaking!!!
At the end of the day, all we can do is take care of ourselves and our families; stay informed and involved whenever possible; support the many organizations that are fighting on our behalf; support the honest journalists (there are a few!), lawyers, doctors, public servants etc. who are carrying the burdens of that fight too and then . . . just hope for the best while stepping back from the turbulent, murky waters and waiting for the tempestuous conditions of our world to subside; for the carnage to end; for the White Man’s conspiracy to annihilate itself; for the waters to become less dark, dirty and ominous and for White People to come to their senses, get over their fears and realize that we can all be equal partners in a just peace, rather than perpetual and fearful adversaries at war.
Our world today is so badly in need of an “Aha” moment!