Between 1975 and 1981 when we moved to the United States, and as the civil war was raging in Lebanon, we were in and out of Beirut on multiple occasions, primarily because I was very reluctant yet to buy a one-way ticket out of that inferno. Some years we would be there for the summer, others for the entire school year. Besides exposing my four children to the trauma of sleeping in corridors, of hiding in bathrooms, of hearing gunfire and exploding bombs, what most terrified me was seeing them off to school in the morning not knowing whether their bus will be stopped by the fighters and the children kidnapped and/or shot, or, worse, that the bus would be blown up and they would perish. It is one of the worst nightmares parents could ever encounter.
So, yes, the past two weeks have been a very sad time for these United States, and, on a personal level, I was utterly depressed by all the senseless loss of life and limb which recalled memories of an irrational Lebanese civil war. Where was the corrupt and wicked leadership that could have – should have – convened summits to resolve the issues and reconcile the opposing views? Absent! And the dire result was absolute chaos that happened seemingly overnight. This should have been a grim warning for those who have repeated that detestable scenario in many countries. It wasn’t!
Likewise, the incidents of the past two weeks in this country, as many before them, should have been a wakeup call for responsible and wise leadership from all sides of the political spectrum to rally together and find solutions before we end up in a much worse situation than the one we are already facing, whether it is with racists, or other haters and opportunists. Unfortunately, what has been happening is that no remedial action has been taken so far. This is so corrupt and evil!
Regrettably, White Supremacists are not only in our country, but in Europe as well, and as disconcerting as their ideology is, it is no different from Islamic Jihadists, Israeli Radicals, or any of the religious/ethnic groups clinging to their zealous agendas and believing that they are holier-then-thou and that we should all espouse their dangerous views, or else be targets for elimination. The result, as we can all see happening in many countries, is that the ensuing chaos compels political leadership to resort to naked, horrific, brutal power in order to remain in control of its citizens. Such ignoble phenomena have appeared before in the history of our planet and have wreaked havoc upon many areas and populations. Do we ever learn? Do we want to repeat this formula in these United States? Are we a failed state awaiting a military junta to take over the country? C’mon people! Wake up!
However, it will soon be time for kids across this nation, to go back to school, and the saddest thing for me is that they and their educators are having to learn how to cope should there be an active shooter that targets their academy. It is a mortifying lesson! There are approximately 50.8 million students in public schools, and 5.8 million in private schools as per the National Center for Education Statistics, and in 2017/18 there were 4298 colleges and universities. All of them are having to add a very disconcerting item to their curricula about the possibility of an active shooter on their premises (those in colleges and universities receive phone alerts if they sign up for them), as well as on how to counteract bullying, depression, peer pressure, rape, suicide and drugs amongst other things that no generation before them has had to tangle with on this massive scale. What on earth are we doing to these children? And, shouldn’t all of us, if we have any sense of responsibility, be straightening up the mess that our dysfunctional world management is subjecting them to?
We know that every generation is a continuum of the generations that preceded it, making us All complicit in our present state of affairs. Sociologists have given approximate ages for the Generations:
The Silent Generation: Ages 74-91
Baby Boomers: Ages 55-73
Gen X-ers: Ages 39-54
Millennials: Ages 23-38
Generation Z: Ages 7-22 (some call them the iGen)
So, our students today are Generation Z. Those that call them the iGen base it upon the fact that this age group opened their little eyes to a planet of gizmos, and their iPhones became their window to the world, with all the positives and negatives that such a world provides. Sadly, they are the generation that is also opening its eyes to a reality threatened by irresponsible leadership, mass shooters, climate disasters and a school curriculum that bores them to the nth degree and is not preparing them in any useful way for the future.
El Paso, Dayton and the Garlic Festival in California are only the latest carnage that we have been witnessing as a nation. We have seen it in Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, dance clubs, theatres, malls and so many other places over decades. This is irresponsible, atrocious, unconscionable and uncivilized! Where but in the lawless lands of “frontier” America are citizens allowed to “Open Carry?” Where but in a lawless land are people allowed to own more military-style weapons than their police and armies? How uncivilized are we that we have to arm educators? Not in their most wild and wicked dreams did the issuers of the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” believe that it would come to this warped and lawless extent! It is simply beyond belief and way beyond common sense!! And, I am well aware, as should everyone be, that gun laws, though vital, are not the only solution, but that we need a comprehensive change in our culture on many levels.
The Lebanese civil war weighs heavily on me to this day, as well as the agonizing personal stories and accounts of many people I know from around the world who went through similar appalling experiences, most of which could have been averted. How had so many Lebanese bought the divisiveness and bigotry that they were being sold? It was easy then, it seems to be as easy today when evil puppeteers are pulling our strings. And I am petrified that in the United States of America we are allowing those in our corrupt corridors of power, raking in nauseating corporate money, and having greedy lobbyists writing those same bills and laws that are dividing us, to continue with their misdeeds. Trump is utilizing every single audacious weapon in his arsenal to win reelection. So are extremist Conservatives and Republicans. He has no qualms about spouting bigotry, divisiveness and racist words. Are we that pea-brained as to buy into this obvious reelection agenda? Moreover, whether on the Left, or on the Right, our irresponsible Media rather than fanning the flames of discord should be bringing on panelists who speak to reason, not insanity, not hype, not partisan agendas, not outright lies and exaggerations that do not reflect what the majority of people in this country want. Yet, they do not speak about the egregious fact that this President is upending every sensible law enacted by previous Presidents in order to appease all his corporate supporters, lobbyists and base. How can that be allowed by Any President? The media on the Right have been incessantly yelling against Immigrants and Invasions, and on the Left they have been unremittingly screeching about Russian Meddling and Impeachment. It is time for both to stop scoring points and kowtowing to their corporate and nefarious agendas! It is time for them whether on television, radio, newspapers, magazines, organizations, political parties, educational academies et al to start talking every day and on every one of their programs about bringing people together, about compassion and empathy and the social and cultural solutions that we need to urgently address. It only took about two thousand trained killers to start a civil war that engulfed the Lebanese nation of about three million. It has happened elsewhere. It could happen here, much as I am sure that we all do not want it to. We must not allow it. This is not a virtual, or any other, game, America!
As those yellow school buses start out on their routes, may all our school children be safe, may all our citizens be safe, may this nation be safe from the insane and divisive politics of avariciousness, arrogance, corruption and selfishness. Finally, the best thing is for each of us to do our decent part every single day on a personal level, as well as in preserving the democracy that we have by impressing upon our legislators to act responsibly, ethically and morally, beginning with electing honest patriots who will fulfil these vital and sensible expectations. It has never been as crucial as Now!