"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - the Dalai Lama
On CBS Sunday Morning on July19th there was a segment about the career of Louis Gossett Jr., a veteran black actor. At the end of the interview, when commenting about the current situation in the U.S., he said "we need each other quite desperately, for our mutual salvation".
I thought that comment cut through all the rhetoric and the political spin of the present moment to go to the very heart of our apparent dilemma. I say "apparent dilemma" because it is so easy to see a solution once you step outside the limiting boxes of ideology, economics and politics. Once we get out of the fog of the current environment of political partisanship and economic tussling, we can see that we are confronted with a universal challenge to the human race"a pandemic that is very devastating and deadly to human beings. A reasonable response would be to join together to deal with the common challenge and pool our resources, our intelligence, our science and our human energy to find workable universal solutions.
The pandemic has erased all our pretensions about the significance of artificial distinctions of age, gender, race, nationality, party affiliation, lifestyle, economic or political status, ideology or religion. It has made it abundantly clear that we, as human beings, are in this together and will find solutions faster and more effectively if we work together.
As we have experienced the nation coming to nearly a complete stop, we watched the understandable but heartwarming sight of people coming out to help each other, not only just their own kind, but all who needed it. Despite all the recent propaganda about everyone being individually responsible for what happens to them and being expected to make it on their own, the default human position was for hearts to go out to suffering human beings and to respond with whatever is available. The human spirit rose, phoenix-like from the ashes of the failures of our economic system, our lack of much of a national public health response and even a lack of leadership on the national level. Compassion and helpfulness simply took over.
And then George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, bringing our national issues of entrenched racial injustice to the forefront again; this, on top of the problems of those citizens on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder who were receiving little help or support dealing with the disruptions of Covid-19. And all this within an environment of growing income inequality and the tax changes relieving corporations and the wealthiest individuals of the tax burden necessary to deal with such social disruption. This was further evidence of a system failing the society it was supposed to be serving.
The trends are continuing ever downward as we stayed the course with this neoliberal economic engine. This economic engine which is dependent on monetizing the resources of the planet without regard for consequences and without consideration of sustainability or renewal. The result is that life forms and the planet itself are fed into this economic juggernaut to fuel it. It turns those resources into wealth that goes to those who control that machine.
To serve that machine everything and everyone, in an attempt to survive in that world, is chained to that economic machine, continuing to feed it and trying to satisfy its ravenous appetites. The planet is being sacrificed. The life forms on the planet are being sacrificed. Democratic societies are being sacrificed. Human beings are being sacrificed while the wealth that is produced goes to a smaller and smaller elite on the top.
What has been created is a system of mass destruction of resources, mass production of products from that destruction and then mass consumption to create a need for more resources in a vicious circle. It is held in place by the mass illusions continually presented by the propaganda of a carefully controlled mass communication network. We live in a world of mass surveillance, under threat for a resistance under a government controlled by that small economic elite with its access to the courts, the police and the military, not to mention the secretive governmental agencies.
All of this becomes clearer and clearer as we experience the world created by that system which leaves ordinary people without support in a crisis like the pandemic. And of course, there is the looming new realities we must face to meet the challenges of global climate change.
When the pandemic stopped that neoliberal economic engine in its tracks, all of its shortcomings and weaknesses were fully exposed. People were left with only each other to rely upon in the final analysis.
Now, while the system has stopped, when all its failings are exposed, "we need each other quite desperately, for our mutual salvation." We cannot allow an old and dysfunctional system to restart and continue, to chain us back to that same economic machine and to a short dystopian future"to a system that is willing to sacrifice all of life to fuel its dark intensions.
We must remember our human underpinnings of community and compassion. We must break away from that old system and reestablish a humane, sustainable democracy if we are to create a path to our own salvation.
It is our future and we need to unite to create a viable alternative to an old and destructive, dying system, replacing it with a new system to provide a humane, viable and hopeful future.