Posts Tagged 'Trayvon Martin'

Worlds of Belief

In an odd paradox we live in a world which is simultaneously propelled and constrained by belief. More often than not, believing also means not seeing what is actually there. While it is said that “seeing is believing” that  isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, what is believed is taken to be true. True believers and other zealots of every stripe “see” the world in terms coinciding with their beliefs, refusing as unnecessary and irrelevant, any facts contradictory to what they believe; cognitive dissonance be damned. This conundrum is true across human experience whether about food, sexuality, education, race, religion, or politics; it’s a very long list, sometimes benign and sometimes dangerously destructive. Consequently this equation factors to what you believe is what you get and, perforce, what the rest of us get as well. This aspect of the human condition makes social progress, among other things, excruciatingly difficult and has been doing damage to social justice for millennia.

Belief systems are powerful and their effect on the social contract is both a phenomenon and a constant. Consider the common clichés in the pledge of allegiance mouthed by nearly everyone as they grow up in the United States, “ … one nation …, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” Just what does that mean in light of the social behaviors we witness today and, for that matter, throughout the history of the United States? Is the declaration of justice for all merely a slogan and not a shared belief? Where does belief in justice for all fit into comparing women to pigs and cows or caterpillars? What does an seemingly senile congressman believe when he publicly declares the president “stupid”?

If President Obama were a white Caucasian, would Congressman Grassley of Iowa believe he could make such a remark publicly? In the case of the recent fatal shooting of a young black man, Trayvon Martin, in Florida by a self-ordained vigilante who was up to his ears in beliefs about wardrobe, black people, and his own role in society. would we have had the same scenario if the roles been reversed or would a lynch mob have been quickly formed?

As an example of political belief betrayed, voters in New Mexico, particularly business people, believed the Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez would be pro-New Mexico business. Yet as governor, she vetoed Senate Bill 9, the “Corporate Fair Tax Act”, a truly pro-New Mexico business law. Looking at the roster of donors to Republican political campaigns you will find out-of-state corporations such as Wal-Mart that will now continue to enjoy paying low wages and no taxes on their New Mexico income at the expense of New Mexico businesses. Obviously the belief that their campaign contributions would protect their profits was well founded.

Do you believe, as apparently the majority of US Supreme Court justices claim they do, that corporations are “people”? Are corporations called to jury duty? Of what gender are they? Can a corporation marry a woman or a man? Can corporations be drafted into military service? Do you believe the justices truly believe corporations are people? Of course they don’t, but they did believe they could get away with the outrageous ruling.

US Senate Republicans recently blocked what was called the “Buffett Rule” which would have disallowed loopholes permitting lower tax rates for the wealthy than those imposed on middle and lower class taxpayers. Why would they betray the majority of American taxpayers in such a blatant manner? Because they believe they can get away with it, that’s why. In Michigan, using a questionable and now legally challenged tactic to circumvent hearings on bills before passage, the Republican legislature repealed a law which provided health care for domestic partners. There is obviously an underlying autocratic belief system that emboldens these guys.

My favorite belief canard of late was when the Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, sounding a bit like a peeved Marie Antoinette, whined about “class warfare”. It was rather revolting to witness one of the leaders of, arguably, the most corrupt legislative body in the history of civilization complain to the press that the #occupywallstreet demonstrators were engaging in class warfare. Well, of course they are and why not? Class warfare has been going since time immemorial, Mr. Speaker, except it has been working in yours and your sponsors’ favor, which is why you wish the unwashed masses would’t notice and call attention to it. And you did believe you could get away with such a declaration, didn’t you?

When people’s beliefs and experience don’t add up they have nothing left to lose. As with any social revolution in history the populace becomes problematic for the status quo and consequently for the extant social contract. The #occupy activists apparently continue to believe in something resembling the propaganda of equal opportunity and justice for all and refuse to accept being drafted into a society of drones serving the 1%. Young people are refusing the status quo because they perceive they have nothing to lose but are defending their dignity as human beings by objecting, demonstrating, and forcing change. In their perception everything, including the future, is being gobbled up by greedy sponsors and politicians of the 1%. The propaganda of equal opportunity and equal social justice isn’t working because opportunity is perceived to be already owned, patented, and monopolized; reality and the promise don’t add up.

No social contract has ever been viable except when the beliefs and the experience of the society and individuals have been in accord. That’s a belief to live by.

This essay first appeared at: The Light of New Mexico

ON PARASITOIDS

The word parasite comes from the Greek  παράσιτος (parasitos), “one who eats at the table of another”. The Juniper parasite commonly known as Mistletoe Latin name is Phoradendron Juniperinum ,. There are many different kinds of parasites that infect animals and plants and this one is of the kind that eventually kills its host. Parasitoid is the name for parasites which kill or sterilize their hosts. As I was working at the heartbreaking task of pruning – butchering might be more apt – nearly all of the cedars and junipers at home infected with Mistletoe the similarity between what is happening to my trees and my country struck me. Parasitoids are eating away democracy, the economy, and polity – in short, the social contract as I have known it for all of my life and in the end they will kill the host and replace it with something like a police state.

What is most interesting about this is that the parasites are being assisted by the very people who are being hurt the most – the American middle class. Which leads me to the next interesting aspect that being the denial of class warfare. What do you imagine are the consequences when millionaire elected politicians write laws from “model legislation” provided to them by an organization funded by the largest corporations in the world? Is that not class warfare? The ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Counsel) is the unelected sponsor of a great deal of legislation from concealed carry of handguns to education and a universe in between. Whose interests are being represented first and foremost? Yours or theirs? Who did the public elect, ALEC or senator so-and-so? The role of legislators as minions of parasitoids is undeniable when they allow themselves to used as conduits for sociopathic legislation provided to them by ALEC. The legislation introduced and passed is not for the benefit of the electorate but solely for the benefit of the sponsors at the expense of the polity. In other words, they are dining at the expense of the public good – literally and figuratively.

A good example of how devolved the situation has become is the disagreement over health care. Early in the Republican primary during a debate about government sponsored health care an example of how a sick person without health insurance could be denied hospital care and die as a result, the audience cheered. Yes, that actually happened at a Republican presidential debate in September of last year. Ron Paul was asked by the moderator whether or not a person should be left to die if he didn’t have health insurance.  Paul ducked the question but responded that freedom means “taking your own risks”. And the audience cheered, “Yeah!”. Not unlike the Roman custom of thumbs down during a gladiatorial bout the audience thus indicating the vanquished opponent should be killed. Even Friedrich Hayek ultra-conservative intellectual icon knew better and supported “ a comprehensive system of social insurance”.

Concealed carry laws such as that which led to the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida come directly out of the ALEC menu of “model legislation” the Florida language being nearly identical to the ALEC template. There is hardly a day that goes by without another shooting reported somewhere in the country. Today, April 2, six people were shot and killed and three wounded at a California university. Last night a shooting in Las Cruces left one young man dead and another seriously wounded. Time and again people, innocent people, are shot down by someone exercising the right to own and carry a gun. ALEC templates provide the language and intent of the enabling legislation for gun laws sponsored by the Koch boys, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, At&T, UPS, Kraft Foods, State Farm, Bayer, Diageo, NRA, et al  – it’s a long long list.

Another example is the price of gasoline. It is generally known there is an international glut of petroleum the feed stock of gasoline and there is also a national reserve from which the president can draw if need be. The price of what has become life-blood of the American economy is controlled by a small group of multi-national corporations all of whom want to see a Republican outcome in the November elections; they are willing, it seems, to destroy the economy and the economic life of Americans to achieve that end.

The life blood of democracy is being sucked out of it for profit and in the end will destroy the American social contract just as the mistletoe is destroying my trees. Another  ALEC campaign, this to destroy public education for the purpose of privatizing it, will lead to under and un-educated citizens unable to think critically thus making them even more vulnerable to manipulation and with little or no commitment to a social contract – in other words they are creating a dystopian state at our expense. Already by age 23 as many as 41 percent of American young adults and adolescents have been arrested at least once. Will we, of necessity, live in a police state in what was once the land of the free and the home of the brave? How far will ALEC its sponsors and minions be willing to go in their parasitoid crusade against American democracy?

This essay was forst posted on: http://www.thelightofnewmexico.com/


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