Our brothers and sisters in Canada are moved to make a public statement of support and transformation. We are in desperate need of something like this in the USA.

We’ve moved from a values-driven, caring, compassionate society to one that is divided. This division can be traced back at least to political machinations begun in the 1960s that created a schism in our country where the very values that should bind us all are treated with disdain and are mocked - not by a small group of misguided and warped bigots in secret, but in public and with frequent agreement and affirmation. The very idea that “political correctness” could be mocked by people who claim as their heritage a Christian set of values is patently ludicrous, yet we see this as commonplace in daily conversations.

How did this happen? It’s very clear how it was done. It began as a deliberate manipulation of the thoughts and minds of good, solid people to create in them a distrust and abhorrence of their neighbors and fellow countrymen - those upon whom we all inter-depend. Many have been led, slowly, gradually, without seeming to be led, toward a set of beliefs that would never have been thinkable when the process was begun years ago, but has become acceptable through this incremental evolution.

Conservatives were well aware of this shift and its bad effects even in the early years. In a 1994 interview, by then retired Senator Barry Goldwater said, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

From Conservapedia:

In response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell‘s opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, “Every good Christian should be concerned”, Goldwater retorted: “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”

I find myself appalled and dismayed at the shocking lack of compassion and trust and respect we see routinely displayed in our media’s coverage of the political system, everyday interactions between everyday people, and in the entertainment we all consume. We’ve sunk to new lows with each passing decade of my life, and we seem destined to continue to do so, slowly abolishing in our society the very values that made this country what it was and is no longer.

Our Founding Fathers would be instantly disgusted if they were to appear here and now and witness what we’ve done with their imperfect, and yet powerful and promising beginning. I wish I could somehow show the perspective I’ve been gradually acquiring to everyone. I believe it would show the stark, bitter contrast between what we all think we want and what many of us are working toward because of ideations perverted for short-term political gain that have gradually taken on a life of their own and as such may well destroy our society.

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Some countries are emerging from poverty. Education is on the rise.

We’re all to be blamed for not realizing the truth, actually. But our sources of news are driven by economics, which means they have to live and die by their ability to sell newspapers, magazines, online eyeballs, advertisers’ products, or whatever. This leads to what Nicholas Kristof calls in this op-ed piece a true selection bias that leads directly to a corresponding bias in public opinion.

We’re making progress in our quest to uplift all of humanity. It’s just not considered real news to report that this is the case. And it isn’t, really. The process has been been a slow, painful climb whose progress isn’t exhilarating so much as it is tedious to watch. Except, of course, by those who benefit from that progress: poverty stricken countries, decaying inner cities, and moribund agrarian populations that couldn’t make any progress against commodity market price reductions.

The idea of farming, mining, and other ancient and labor intensive jobs as ways of life is slowly dying and being replaced with automation, economies of scale, and higher technology solutions to creating society’s base materials. We’re now seeing populations whose leaders are forced to turn to other means to keep the gravy train going for themselves. Formerly ruthless dictators of countries filled with abject poverty are seeing the writing on the wall and inviting education and investment to enrich their countries so they can get even richer. This last bit is a negative side effect of this progress, and it will eventually have to be resolved. But for now it’s not such a bad thing that some asshole at the top of a poor country sucks a little of the oxygen out of the room if everyone else gets some too.

We need to see what’s true and not just what’s reported. It would be very helpful if world economic progress were something that was studied and encouraged actively rather than as a passive side effect of famines, forced migration, capitalism’s endless search for new markets, and the like.

Making profits is great as long as it isn’t carried too far on the backs of the wrong people. When those backs finally break and the profits stop flowing, there are those who seem to wake up and realize, “Hey. We could invest in those people just a little and get a great new cash cow out of it in a few years!”

Well yes. Let’s do that then.

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This article lists “26 essential science fiction novels to get you ready for tomorrow”.

As has become heartbreakingly typical lately, these are nearly all dystopian views of the future. What we desperately need as a society is to see “Wow, it’s lucky for us brilliant Dr. Greefel Burblatts invented the polygorphal exgraminator to avoid the global warming disaster we were headed for“ and the joyful future that follows.

The age of plenty, ubiquitous computing, millions of educated and well fed geniuses alive today, space travel and exploration, wonderful gadgets and architecture and art forms - these are all things we can imagine and look forward to. We have already a great surplus of dark tales to warn us of the dangers of the future.

Why not stories that help us to prepare for what could be if only we will imagine and then achieve what is possible in a positive universe?

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Enemy_of_the_StateI feel like Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State. You know: that movie with Will Smith where Hackman’s character is the old guy who knows how corrupt and all-powerful the system is and Smith’s character is the one who gets stuck in a web of intrigue far enough that he desperately needs Hackman’s help to survive.

The system in that case was the spy and counterspy world of the NSA and international electronic surveillance. It’s a system that exists beneath the radar of Everyman so far that virtually no citizen knows it exists. And yet it does exist, and the extent of its tentacles’ invisible involvement in the life of Everyman is unbelievably entangled. Smith discovers all of this and awakes to understand a part of reality he had been supporting with his own efforts — taxes paid, votes cast — but would probably not have done so if he had known what was going on. I feel this way a lot lately.

The_Matrix_PosterIt’s a bit like The Matrix too. We’re all “copper tops” powering something we’re intimately intertwined with, but we have no idea it’s there or that we’re making it possible. This invisible part of the world we live in is made possible by our contribution — and here I mean in way more ways than simple taxes and votes — and the resulting invisible superstructure of society not only exists and benefits from us, but actually acts to control us so that we never really perceive it. But even more importantly, these invisible puppeteers who live off the proceeds of the labors of the world act directly to maintain their power over us and our ignorance of their manipulations of us to keep it that way.

Imagine any of the really rich families, for example. The Koch brothers of energy, chemical, pulp and paper, the Waltons of Walmart fame, or the Rothchilds, the Rockefellers, the Romanovs, the di Medicis, or even the Hiltons. There are hundreds or even more than a thousand of these groups, families that are wealthy beyond belief, whose connection to the real world you and I occupy is tenuous at best. They exist as they do because the system of our world gives people with wealth like theirs enough power to never have to even see the world upon which even their elevated and distanced existence depends.

joe-sixpackConsider Joe Sixpack, the guy next to me on the train or the bus nearly every day of the week. He’s a great guy, with a family he loves, a big morgage and several credit card balances and car loans. He loves football and beer and barbecuing in the back garden on summer evenings, and his contributions to his church are significant fraction of his disposable income because he’s someone who works hard and wants to give back to society. He works for Boeing, having made his way up from sweeping factory floors to leading a manufacturing team making carbon fiber composite wing tips. He votes Republican because he believes in hard work and not allowing our government to tax and spend its way into becoming even more a bloated burden on business and work people, giving away American wealth to support lazy, stupid poor people who need to just get up from their couches and get a job and become like Joe.

girl-sunglassesAcross the aisle on the train is Ms. Lila Liberal. She eats organic fruit and nuts and yogurt on the train and reads Huffington Post articles on her iPhone. She carries a bag made from recycled materials she bought while on a working vacation in Haiti helping to rebuild low income housing destroyed during recent earthquakes there. She works as a legal assistant in a high rise building in Seattle, often exceeds her boss’s expectations, and is getting noticed for it. It seems her future is very bright. She’s an atheist, and lives with her partner who is a woman. She always votes Democrat, although she does so reluctantly, knowing her candidates are funded by corporate and other interests expecting to receive concessions in return. She believes the world could be a much better place if only the influence of the gigantic corporations in our government could be eliminated.

Never mind which of these people’s beliefs are the ones I agree with. Never mind which you agree with. Think about them in abstract for the moment. These two people would seem to be opposites in many ways. They are opposed in views, and effectively cancel each other out in terms of political power. They represent a continuous source of conflict for which there appears to be no resolution.

What of it? Why do these two people matter? It’s the work that enables their very existence, creating things in the world, lending the energy of their bodies and minds and creativity toward the forward progress of an economy that matters. They work, trading their time for money — the very same money that they need to live and pursue their interests, to raise their families or pets, or simply to keep their surroundings beautiful and comfortable, and to continue to work so they can earn money to continue the cycle. As they work, they put energy into the system that is our economy. In spending their earnings, they help to move everyone’s money along, again adding value in the sense that they are choosing products that are better than competitive products, taking them home, and using them — perhaps eventually needing repairs or replacement parts or a subscription to continue to be useful over time.

These people, like most of us, are hamsters on a wheel, running forever to get what they need to continue to run. Ah, you’ll say, it’s what they do with their lives along the way that matters. Sure. It certainly is. But that’s not the point of my little rant here, so I’ll continue on to that point having said enough on the subject of hamster wheels for now.

What matters is that they keep running. Adding value to the economy, building its energy level up and up and up. This powers the continuation of what all have built over the centuries: human civilization as we know it. This is a good thing. We’re all improving our standard of living, building wealth, getting safer, more comfortable, healthier, etc.

364px-AinBut along the way there is a group that is buoyed upward by this process as an invisible side effect of the world’s self-enriching climb upward. The rising tide may raise all ships, but some of the ships are rising faster than most, and they’re so high already we can’t even see them. We never could. These are the richest of the rich, whose existence depends entirely upon the efforts of Joe and Lila and billions in the world just like them. These wealthy, privileged people depend on the continued balancing act of the political process that keeps everyone arguing while true control of the world is actually in the hands of those who provide the funding to power the election controversies and the mannequins who run for office in the first place. They pay a little to get control, but that control provides them with an astoundingly huge return on that investment.

As long as Joe and Lila continue to oppose each other while working to put food on their tables, build their homes into comfortable places, keep themselves entertained, and doing all the things we have come to believe we are free to do in life, the Rothchilds, the Waltons, the Kochs, and all the others can keep printing money and pulling the strings.

Or not. They have so much money they can hire someone to handle all of the sordid details of running the world. They have more important things to do — there is an island in the Hawaiian island chain that’s available if they buy their way past laws and make it theirs before someone else does.

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]( Cathy McMorris Rodgers speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

My eldest daughter, Sarah, is a journalist at the National Journal in Washington, DC. I guess her editors figured she was perfect to write this piece for the Journal on Cathy McMorris Rodgers, one of the most powerful political figures in the country who is also a woman and is from Spokane. After, Sarah grew up there. And they were right.

I’m proud of my brilliant daughter’s accomplishments. She put many hours into this piece, including a trip to Spokane, and it has taken her years to get to a position to write it and the pieces of comparable excellence that I’m sure she will be creating in the future.

I hope you find her article, “A Ceiling of Her Making“, as interesting as I do. I’m certain there are many such to come, and that I’ll have many opportunities to say, proudly, that this deep thinking and talented journalist is my daughter.

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Alan Mimms


Seattle, Washington, USA, Earth