Last year wrought disasters of Biblical proportion. The disasters weren’t limited to natural disasters, but social, economic and political calamities as well. These events gave us a peek into our future and revealed that failure of this society to change course will ultimately result in catastrophe. But like actors in a horror movie, we ignore the signs of our impending doom. We pretend that we didn’t see what we saw, didn’t hear what we heard, or didn’t feel what we felt.
Yes, part of the horror is that the society we consider as being so much better than everyone else’s, took a giant step backwards and in the direction of barbarism and savagery.
There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth as Donald Trump took over the reins of U.S. imperialism. Folks cried and some proclaimed, “Not my president.” But none of the 44 who had come before him was their president, either, unless their last name was Rockefeller, Vanderbilt or DuPont, or were members of that special group of elite and legitimate criminals, the corporate heads, banksters and others that make up the point one percent.
Incidentally, more recent democratic administrations brought us the end of welfare as we know it, and mass incarceration (with its accompanying racist and draconian two-tiered drug sentencing), bank bailouts, the foreclosure crisis, the opioid crisis (manufactured by U.S. pharmaceuticals) drone warfare, torture and the destruction of Libya.
Moreover, this system encouraged us to believe that some human beings have more value than others. When hundreds of Somalis were victimized by a crazed suicide bomber, it would have been easier to find a million dollars just lying around than Somali flags as Facebook profile pictures.
The global capitalist world has brought about the wreckage of even our climate, which resulted in catastrophic fires, famine and hurricanes.
The hurricane that struck Puerto Rico and the Caribbean elicited less sympathy from us than the one that struck Houston. And that has logic because we are more likely to feel a certain affinity to those that are close to us. But Puerto Ricans are our brothers and sisters, too, even fellow citizens.
There was no national effort to help them turn their lights back on, and no national insistence that they be delivered food and water in the city and the hill country. There was no insistence that we mobilize our storehouse of resources or including technological know-how and the equipment of our armed forces, to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings.
We may have just as coldly tossed them paper towels along with the insensitive leader of the so-called free world.
We wrung our hands as some crazed person got their hands on multiple automatic weapons and mowed down dozens in Las Vegas. We pretended that this will be the last of the mass shootings, as the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists insist that there is a practical need for the average citizen to have an automatic weapon.
We may have to stop pretending we are a village, because even a clan of simpletons would demand some kind of moratorium on the buying and selling of guns. Even they would demand that people be prioritized over profit making.
We watched, stunned, as we learned about Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and a whole host of males, with power and privilege, sexually assaulted, abused or acted inappropriately toward women. And, yet, despite the good works of the “Me too” movement, very few called for ending patriarchy, sexism and male privilege outright and eliminating the system (capitalism) that nurtures it! No demands from women to wipe it and the system that nourishes it from the face of the earth.
While acting the fool, the “clown” prince that is president, has distracted us from the fact that “the” not “our” elected officials signed off on a $700 billion defense budget, which was about $37 billion more than the president requested.
Incidentally, both parties co-operated in this madness. Imagine what a sane, civilized society could do with half of that money! It could create work, guarantee health care, improve education and provide affordable day care for working mothers and provide decent stipends to those down on their luck and for those in the twilight of their years.
And then we watched Daniel Shaver get blown away on video, by New Mexican law enforcement, who murdered him because they could. And adding insult to injury, human beings considered his peers thought it was Ok and allowed the cops to evade any consequences and literally get away with murder.
Meanwhile, youth who can no longer cope turn to drugs while the pharmaceuticals knowingly supplied drugs to underground distributors — all for the sake of making money. The nation’s response led by its “clown prince,” was to call for a health emergency, rather than a national one, while tossing what amounts to pennies at the problem. See http://bit.do/Ex-DEA-agent
The year 2017 was as dark as they come. Yet, it exposed the corrupt underbelly of the very system too many of us hold so dear. In fact, the tragedies that occurred, even the natural disasters, the mass murders, the drug crisis, the tax cuts (which amounted to welfare for the rich) the defense budget, the police violence, the sexual assaults and misconduct that were exposed, all point toward there being something deeply wrong with the system and that much more is needed than reform.
But reform with an eye toward permanent transition to something better is a good start.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.