The American Revolution is Today
“What if the fly in the ointment is made of ointment?”
America only has one real problem.
Shall we fix it?
It all boils down to this. Was the American Revolution about breaking from a system, or gaining access to that system.
Where We Are Now
Donald Trump represents the old monarchical system. Wealth handed down. Privilege maintained. Power through position. Getting to act however, and do whatever, one wants without any repercussions. The way of the King.
Some might say that’s what we fought against in 1776.
Yet the core of the contemporary Republican position is defending just that. American freedom defined as freedom to become the King. Not freedom from tyranny, but freedom to become the tyrant. The only rule of society: whoever takes power gets to make the rules. Previous laws and traditions are subject to the caprice of the ruler.
It might seem antithetical to the personal interests of Trump/Republican supporters that they agree to this. Most will never amass the wealth necessary to become the king so it’s a false hope. Yet it is the engine of their dream.
Because the dream is not personal freedom within society, the dream is to lord over society itself. To listen to no one and care for nothing but oneself, to be separate from society. Trump is a vision of this and so they kneel.
They will mortgage everything in their own lives to maintain the illusion that one day they might get to stomp on everybody else’s.
How Did We Get Here?
The core of this thought-paradigm is not a left/right or democrat/republican thing, nor a capitalist/communist thing. It is an utter misconception of how life grows thing. It is the belief that by separating oneself from one’s surroundings one gains power. That to share interests or solutions with other people is an assault on one’s own being. It is believing the only thing limiting how high your tomato plant grows is that damn stalk holding it back.
The wound America never healed: slavery.
Slavery has yet to be resolved in the American psyche and continues to spawn not only racism, but the core false belief that personal identity arises only in relation to someone else being less than me. Without someone beneath me, I am nothing. So I must devalue someone.
Where did this begin?
The Southern Slavery Paradox:
One set of humans is not human, they are void of all things we hold dear; at the same time we are utterly dependent on these people to gather our food, make our money, feed our family and raise our children. We trust and distrust them whole-heartedly at the same time.
We demand they love us: care for our toddlers, care for our kitchen, care for our crops, care for our animals. Yet we not only refuse to love them, we refuse to acknowledge they are worthy or capable of love, or in need of care.
Our entire way of life depends on them, yet we see them as nothing.
Why This Is A Problem
Think of what a nightmare that would be in an individual. My foundational source of value is something for which I hold no value.
It doesn’t take a therapist to guess that someone with that paradigm at their core is going to be an absolute mess.
Unbearable inner conflict leads to violence. It begins as hate and grows to action as the inner conflict searches for an external source to blame. One assumes the pain is caused by something outside of oneself; as the pain grows the desire and extent of the violence grows.
Imagine being surrounded by people displaying basic humanity, emotions and laughter and tears and pain and kinship, and then having to maintain a lie to oneself that they are not human. Beatings and whippings and killing become a way of confirming that they must not be human, of snuffing out any doubt in one’s own mind.
So too any suggestion that there is a flaw in the system of slavery is met with abhorrence and resistance. Because to admit the flaw would be to confess to the most heinous of human crimes.
Even now, to acknowledge the profound violation of natural law that built a large portion of our country, would mean condemning our ancestors to the same corridors as Pol Pot and Hitler. The only way to keep one’s honor is to insist, to the death, that the system is not flawed. Hence the civil war. And…
What We See Today
A holding onto the confederate flag. A rising tide of overt racism, sexism and homophobia, an apparently long withheld desire to scream and scribble the darkest and foulest thoughts. A dehumanizing disdain for anything “liberal”.
It can look ridiculous, as if they’re borrowing slogans and anger from another time and place, as if they can’t open their eyes to the world around them. That is an indication that what drives them is not the professed target of their anger, but something within themselves.
It Is This
America was built on a faulty belief system. Wiring that said you can have a healthy symbiotic relationship with other humans while refusing to recognize their humanity; that you can acquire the most essential human needs — child care, home cooked meals, labor for you enterprise, sexual intercourse and progeny — and in return not only give nothing, you can take away respect, consideration, love, decency and connection.
Picture it clearly. No internet, no cars, no electricity. Except for books, the only human connection available is the people you come in contact with. Surrounding your house are a group of humans who you come into contact with every single day, more than you see your neighbors or relations. Slaves are the only people you see every day. The most literal community you have. And yet you refuse to acknowledge any of the natural bonding that comes from sharing space, being part of the same sunsets, knowing the same trees, enduring the same weather, watching the same children grow up.
Part of us then was built with a complete and total disdain for natural human bonding. For the kind of trust born from daily contact, from shared moments, from the most natural of instincts that kick in when we are around other people. We turned those off within ourselves and we did it with violence.
Then we built our self-esteem on that separation, built our identity on being apart and other and above.
We created a mental illness from telling ourselves we can love home and community and family while simultaneously choosing to exterminate the humanity of select members of our home, community and family.
This sickness continues to metastasize in society today. Symptoms, such as the obsessive need for separation and marginalization, are presenting as strongly as ever.
The only thing that can grow from this kind of unnatural, ungodly paradox is a monster. A creature lost from the basic principles of how life grows, of how we successfully build the fabric of society.
So while we defeated the circumstance that created the monster, slavery, we failed to address what it created.
What Have We Been Doing?
We’re engaged in a never ending battle to grant each next marginalized and oppressed group access to the system. We think ‘oh if we just get this group’s rights protected, if we can just win respect for this segment of society, we’ll be healed.’ We don’t recognize that the system itself is spawning the separation. We’ll never get everyone in because part of us requires someone to hate.
So Where Are We At?
Part of the American psyche was built upon the belief that we can not be happy unless we own the people who provide the means of our happiness. This has morphed into the belief that we can not be happy unless we have power over some lesser group of people, and led to a system which produces groups to hate; hate being the generalized feeling of dehumanizing a group and then loathing them to feel better about oneself.
There is a secret core fear in America that to truly be equal with everyone else would be to lose individual identity and ‘your group’ status that goes with it. Yet we simultaneously trumpet our position as the nation of freedom and equality for all. This is schizophrenic. This is mental illness, and the health ramifications for our nation are disastrous.
We can not bring ourselves to say that everyone in our tribe deserves to be well and have access to health. We can not agree that poisoning our own children is something to stand against. We can not admit that imprisoning more and more of our tribe in worse and worse conditions is not making us safer. We can not see that increasing amounts of weapons are increasing homicides. We can not empathize with our millions of drug addicted fellow tribespeople enough to stop the pharmaceutical pattern which produces their addiction.
We are literally killing ourselves. To spite ourselves. Because we are convinced the part that is dying and suffering is the ‘not us’ part and deserves it, and the ‘us’ part gains power and strength and more freedom when the ‘not us’ dies. That is the legacy of slavery. That is what drives part of our national psyche.
That is why Donald Trump is President. He represents the part of the American that was built on the idea that freedom is the opportunity to own everyone else. He represents the idea that if it were just ‘us’ everything would be better. He is the ultimate divider, feeding upon the notion that our value comes from despising someone lower than you.
The Good News
We were never going to avoid Trump, or something like him. The infection has never been cured and will continue to flare up.
Now is our defining hour, the moment we have actually been waiting for. Now is the time to complete the American Revolution. Because to defeat Trump we must finally drain the abscess which produced him. It is time to become whole.
It is time to defeat the myth of ‘not us’. That some part of our civic body is not only wholly separate from the rest of our limbs, but that its defeat and subjugation will liberate the rest of our body.
It is time to unify our history. It is time to allow that our forebears were both slave-holders and slaves. That ‘we’ come from both. Not to eliminate the celebration of one’s particular personal heritage and history, but to admit that it is inseparable from the other.
Because until we own the part of ourselves that gives into separation and division we will only see it as a problem others have and continue to perpetuate the myth of ‘us’ vs ‘them’. We will say ‘they started it’ without recognizing that this madness is beholden to no group, only using race and sexual orientation and political affiliation and issue politics as a way to propagate the myth that we are not in this together equally.
Now is the time to see that we share the same space. We share a geography, we share a culture no matter however many facets it has, we share our institutions, we share our roadways and music and arenas. We share the present moment in history, we share our reactions to it.
Now is the time to forgive. To say that no one alive today is to blame for what happened then. That no price needs to be extracted from one group today to atone for another group then.
Now is the time to say that no gender, no race, no sex, no religion, no group is to blame. That the act of blame is a symptom of hate, no matter what direction is goes to or comes from. And as long as we engage in it on our ‘side’, we foster it in the other.
Now is the time to say that without blame there is only responsibility. And that responsibility is that the health and power of our individual identity does not require a price from someone else’s. That if we build our society outward from that principle we might achieve a power and magnificence more stunning than our founders could have imagined.
They laid the groundwork for America in the structure and language of our framework. Our turn of the revolution is to live by those words without exception.
The solution to our problems is simple.
What we grant to one, we grant to all. If we can’t afford to grant it to all, we grant it to none. If we don’t want someone else to have it, we aren’t guaranteed it ourselves.
If we wish not to be grouped, we won’t group others.
If we wish to be a part of the country, then we accept all the other parts.
When that paradigm becomes our core, we will flourish. Until it does, we will suffer.