I Think …

I quite often say that we seem not to learn from the lessons of history.  Oh sure, we remember for a while – a generation or two – but then the memories dim as the people who lived through that history die off and there is nobody to tell the stories with passion, with first-hand experience.  The immediacy fades and we return to the old ways or settle into new ones. One example is Hitler and the Holocaust.  My grandparents and parents well remembered those lessons, for they lived through them.  I have, perhaps a slightly dimmed sense of it, for I was not yet born, but still a heightened awareness from a childhood spent hearing the stories from one set of grandparents, my mother, and my father who fought in WWII.  And I passed many of those stories to my own children and granddaughter, but by this time they are 3rd and 4th hand stories and are losing some of their authenticity.  Another generation and the stories likely will not be told at all.

Surely there are history books from which we can learn, but again, with few exceptions, written words on a page often fail to bring the story to life, fail to inspire or excite.  And so, we may know the facts, while at the same time forgetting the lessons.  Arrogantly, we believe that those things could never happen in today’s world, never to our generation. Two comments I read yesterday gave rise to this post and an attempt, probably feeble, to find something in the past on which to judge the political and social turmoil the U.S. is experiencing today and find solutions to keep us all from killing one another.

The first comment was by USFMAN, commenting on my post Be Better:

“You cannot outshout a demagogue like Trump so look for similar situations from history that might offer solutions. Gandhi’s idea of mass passive resistance and Martin Luther King’s Freedom Riders come to mind.”

The second was by our friend Roger (Woebegone but Hopeful) commenting on Keith’s post That Jesus Saying:

“The danger lies in the separation of the nation into quarrelling tribes who never listen to each other. This is not good. Does no one look back to the histories of the 1840s to 1860s? Does it take another ‘Bloody Kansas’ for folk to sit up and think, ‘there is something wrong here’”

Interestingly, Roger lives in the UK, Wales to be specific, and yet most often has a better grasp of the history of this nation than we who have lived here all our lives.  And he, as well as many other friends from across the pond, see our situation with clearer eyes than we do.  Perhaps there is something to be said of that expression “can’t see the forest for the trees”?

Anyway, these comments started me thinking.  A very brief bit of historical context for those who may not remember the details.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 gave the territories of Kansas and Nebraska the right to choose, by popular vote, whether to become a slave state or a free state.  Slavery being the most contentious issue of the day, tensions ran high, to say the least, and a lot of dirty politics ensued.  So dirty, in fact, that when a congressional committee investigated a year or so later, they found that 1,729 fraudulent votes had been cast as compared to 1,114 legitimate ones!  Needless to say, violence ensued:  a hotel and two newspaper offices were burned, homes and stores ransacked, and murder & mayhem became the order of the day.

Long story short, a divisive political issue nearly destroyed a society, causing death and destruction.  Now granted,  that was in the days of the ‘Olde West’, and we are more … civilized today.  Or are we?  We have white police officers killing unarmed blacks.  We have white supremacist groups creating chaos on city streets and university campuses.  We have people refusing to serve other people in their place of business because of politics.  We have a ‘president’ who incites violence, encouraging people to hurt others.  Are we more civilized that Kansans in the mid-nineteenth century?  Don’t be too sure.  It would seem that we really haven’t come very far at all.

Which brings me to USFMAN’s comments …

How many times in the last year or two have I said that I wish we had another Martin Luther King?  Too many.  Martin Luther King was only one of the Civil Rights leaders some 50-60 years ago who worked tirelessly to bring about change, but what was unique about him was two things:  his charisma that gave him the ability to lead, and his philosophy of non-violence.  Martin, you may remember, had a dream.  He knew what he wanted to accomplish.  As I read the text of his speech for probably the 100th time, I realize that Martin Luther King’s dream in 1963 was not much different than our own dream today.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

We have many burning issues today, concerning relationships with our allies, health care, education,  poverty, immigration, guns, environment, abortion, and more.  Most of these issues were  not born under the regime of Trump, but he has fanned the flames of discord and disharmony in every single event. But at the crux of most of it is bigotry, intolerance and discrimination of one group or another.  Discrimination against not only African-Americans, but Muslims, Latinos, LGBT people, non-Christians, the poor and even women.  Rather than being able to say we overcame the discrimination that Martin Luther King was fighting, we have expanded it to include other groups – almost anyone who is not white, Christian, and preferably male.

Now that I have offered my rambling thoughts, you probably wonder where I am going with this, if I have a point.  I do.  It seems to me that, in the absence of a Gandhi or Martin Luther King in our midst to lead the way in peaceful protest, then we must each become those leaders, using our voices to promote ideas of equality, to insist our voices be heard, and to do so without violence.  Colin Kaepernick was one such leader last year.  MLK would have been proud of Mr. Kaepernick, for never was there a more peaceful way of protesting, yet he made his point.  This is the way to win equality … the only way, I think.

32 thoughts on “I Think …

  1. Dear Jill,
    I can’t praise this post enough.

    Each and every one of us are the ones who are going to make a difference and we are going to show absolutely that this USA, is a country for the people, by the people and with the people. We’ve been tagged for this moment. We’re it.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Gronda! Yes, we are it, and I feel like I am not doing enough, but we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and just assume it will all work out … somehow. We’re it … we are up to the challenge! Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think…some prefer to overlook the history that is not to their liking. Falsely believing that certain unsavory long past events and evils can not or will not happen in today’s civilized society. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” – Mark Twain. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh … you are quite right, and also, they find small ways in which a situation is slightly different and seize on that, saying that it isn’t the same thing at all. Else they believe that they can control the outcome. Else they don’t even know history for they don’t read, like a certain ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office. Sigh.

      A couple of short video clips for Benjamin in Saturday Surprise … hope he likes ’em! ❤

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  3. I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us. Either because one side or both sides are to strongly imbued with their own idea of rightness to be able to sit and negotiate or because of inactivity, sometimes because a little voice says “My voice is too small to be heard”, nothing gets done.I honestly think in this instance it’s because one set of Politicians are working as hard as they can to get away with as much as they can before a possible caning if not at the midway point in November then at the end of this Congress in 2020, while the other set of politicians have forgotten how to fight. Feeling beaten by past wins of the opposition they are just filling time until they retire or are beaten at the polls.These latter politicians have got to be jarred back into some meaningful activity and reminded what their job is…to fight for their constituents and to get the best for their country. Not just to win, but at least fight.
    Without that fight the US has not got much more it can lose dignity and pride having already gone along with honesty.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very true that “We have met the enemy and it is us”. Good ol’ Pogo! Sigh. That said, there is obviously a great deal of corruption on both sides, and pandering to Trump seems to be the favourite activity of one side, while the other sits on their thumbs and “hopes for the best”. We see how well that is working for us. For the past two weeks, I have emailed almost daily to the representative for my district, but he either doesn’t respond at all, or I get a canned response that doesn’t even acknowledge the topic on which I wrote. And he keeps sending me bright, cheery messages on Facebook, telling me what a wonderful job he is doing! He isn’t doing a wonderful job, he is licking Donald Trump’s boots and pandering to the white, conservative Christians that are not even a majority, and of which I certainly am NOT one. If he ever read my emails, he would know that by now! You are right … the democrats in Congress must start fighting. We are fighting, but we need them to magnify our voices. We need them to LISTEN to our voices.
      Cwtch Mawr

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  4. It isn’t the only way, Jill, but it is one of the best ways. More effective, though against my philosophy, is a bullet in DT’s brain. Do you think he might allow a doctor to surgically implant one if the doctor promised the bullet would be made of gold, while crossing his fingers behind his back?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Heh heh heh … I rather like your idea. But heck, why go to the expense of surgically implanting it? They make these devices that will quickly and relatively painlessly insert that bullet right into that … wait … what did you say? Did you say “brain”? I think there is only some spongey, gooey matter in there. 😉

      Like

      • No dòubt. But the surgical suggestion was only a smokescreen, so Dynamic Teller-of-lies wouldn’t understand your way is the best way for insertion, though up the butt might actually do more damage than one in the head…

        Liked by 1 person

            • Yep … I said it! Some days I filter my thoughts, but late at night I tend to be less reserved in what I say. And yes, that would likely be a good place for him to keep it, for I doubt he uses that particular anatomical part for much else these days. You know what they say … “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, talk about it.” He talks so much that methinks something is likely dysfunctional. 😄

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  5. See: https://www.sott.net/article/204905-Ponerology-101-The-Psychopaths-Mask-of-Sanity, the Bernie Madoff story and down go “What is a psychopath?” in which we read:

    while psychopaths may be intellectually aware that their actions grossly violate the limits of normal human behavior, they lack the emotional engagement with others that normally acts as an inhibitor of anti-social acts, like calculated aggression, intentional intimidation, pathological lying and emotional manipulation. In the course of his (or her, as probably one in four psychopaths is female) development, the psychopath’s inability to feel and thus identify with the emotions of others blocks the development of a “moral sense” that allows normal individuals to care for others and treat them like thinking and feeling beings. /Psychopaths just don’t care/. To them people are things, objects. When they’re no longer useful they can be discarded or destroyed without a second thought.”

    I think the abovedescription fits Trump and Co, but it seems to fit his supporters as well though most may not be in as high a category of psychopathy. Question: isn’t it obvious that individuals such as MLK Jr. and Colin Kaepernick do not represent “the rule” but rather the exception? Question: how would you, if you were president, guide or drive “the nation” to respond compassionately to the plight of the poor, or refuge seekers, assuming that being compassionate (anti-psychopathic) is considered a necessary option?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I completely agree that we cannot wait for a hero, but that we are the heroes we all need right now. There are folks in powerful positions right now who will take their cue from us, so we must speak out. Just look at what we’ve wrought from screaming about the separated families. It took all of us demanding immediate change and finally the wheels of power began to churn.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kaepernick is one of my young heroes just as the Kennedys and MLK, Jr. were when I was a young guy. Much of the problem today are the idols hoisted on pedestals who don’t deserve to be there. Another of my younger day heroes was Father Bond who drove an old, beat-up pile of trash with a bumper sticker, “Live simply so others can simply live.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kaepernick is a hero in my book also! In fact, you and I shared some of the same ones. You and I likely define the word ‘hero’ a bit differently than some people today do. Just because a guy can throw a pigskin around pretty well and get paid a few million dollars for doing so, does not make him a hero. But when he is willing to sacrifice all that to stand for justice, for what he believes in, then he becomes a hero. Too few of them these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Our attention span as humans ie less than that of a gnat (with all due respect to gnats).
    ‘We seem not to learn from the lessons of history. Oh sure, we remember for a while – a generation or two – but then the memories dim as the people who lived through that history die off and there is nobody to tell the stories with passion, with first-hand experience.’
    We never learn … hence we are cursed to commit the same ‘mistakes’!!

    Liked by 2 people

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