Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Forward or Back
The headlines that greet me today: "New Weapons Push Syrian Crisis Toward Civil War" and "Scores Die in Attacks on Shiite Targets in Iraq." A civil war in Syria, yet another bombing in Iraq--a country in which the US was supposed to usher in Jeffersonian democracy; add to these headlines the problematic onslaught climate change, world wide economic mayhem, indescribable poverty and a formerly democratic country which led the world by its example ripped down the middle with intractable racist and other differences that live on from the birth of a nation. This is the nation and world in which we live. This is the nation's generation the collective we bestow to the next who are born to live in it.
When I was a member in good standing of the left at Boston University in the late 60’s I thought my generation was truly going to usher in a new world; that we were going to change things dramatically and peacefully for the better as our message was, we thought, humanitarian--peace and love. We were going to make life better for everyone here. We were, when we gained power, going to create a fairer, just and more equitable world where race was not an issue, war was eschewed and the people were going to reap the economic benefits of unlimited wealth equitably fulfilling the nation's promise etched on the bottom of Lady Liberty, at whose feet my own grandparents wept. They disembarked from a hostile humanity that said Jews could not even live but in this new nation they knew they could because Lady Liberty told them so singing sweetly her famous lines:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Now what exists is a world that is worse than anything I could ever in my naive mind have thought. If I were a believer in Biblical thought (I am not) truly I would think we are living in End Times. Is perpetual war, the killing of innocents, and dire economic conditions going to usher in that beautiful world I envisioned so many years ago? Is this how people want to live in never ending war, a climate that has gone haywire in pertinent part through man's contribution, an economy where only the rich are content but we the living masses of the middle class are crushed? Does the top 1% want to bequeath this world to even their children? How could they?
Lady Liberty's song has, in our day, hit a sour note. The flame has been doused with the accelerant of bitterness, division, discord and enmity where the members of Congress refuse even to eat with others of the opposition. The nation is filled with stupidity and 10 second sound bites that say nothing and explain little about the complexity of our time as we are permanently driven to our respective corners inexorably trapped unable to move.
Can we simply just get along? Did we ever get along? We now are far from the melodious notes of Liberty's song and I wonder will it ever sing sweetly to us again? Will we remain uncompromising and extreme killing a nation for political sport and power which will do nothing? Will we ever move progressively forward or will we move reactionarily back? Lady Liberty’s sweet song can be renewed, its once eternal flame rekindled and its message of hope restored. I yearn for the day it is and wonder if I will ever live to see it.