Monday, August 25, 2014, we found ourselves waking up in an America which is neither in peace with much of the world and, most definitely, far from being in peace with itself. A predicament that philosopher George Santayana warned us about a century ago in a much-quoted, but seldom-heeded warning: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And condemned we are in America . . . for being blind, deaf and mute in acknowledging our past!
Maybe it’s our nature in this nation of ours to disregard the past; close chapters; wipe slates clean, and do so while the ink is not yet dry on issues or events; dishonor casually placed to the side and all but forgotten in favor of a fresh start. Political entanglements the US has had, and continues having, in the Middle East and elsewhere, added to the ongoing racial discord on the domestic front, attest to a mentality typical in our country of what’s best expressed in Spanish as “Borrón y cuenta nueva.” Somehow, in Spanish, the term does express a true finality which seems to be in cadence with both US foreign policy, as well as the prevalent feeling in much of White America on racial matters: “wipe the slate clean;” “let bygones be bygones;” and “it’s all in the past.” A mentality which prevents, or at the very least undermines and delays, the powerless 80 percent of the citizenry from demanding their due: social and economic justice from the powerful elite who benignly hold them in captivity.
Undeniably, that’s why the haves would like the past to be buried: to erase old events and start over—fresh, totally exempt from penance or retribution for anything that their biological or sociopolitical progenitors might have done in the immediate or recent past, no matter how horrifying, criminal or dishonorable it might have been. But that’s only a wish on the elite’s part, a wish at odds with the human reality that applies to all of us, Americans and Americans-not, who may be grouped as have-nots.
So last Monday we revisited the wounds of a racially-poisoned nation when attending Michael Brown’s funeral, most of us in corporal absentia, yet present in spirit . . . while at the same time our State Department and bellicosarians in Congress and the Pentagon kept blowing the bellows of sanctions and war hawking from Cuba to the Middle East; from Eastern Europe to the Asian seas.
Another day for an American government—unashamedly alternating between the two equally-corrupt political parties—which solely represents the powerful elite to instill in the powerless citizenry the notion that our nation of laws will find justice for the young man from Ferguson, Michael Brown; and that our military might will continue keeping us safe from any and all enemies . . . from domestic agitators, to Russians, to Muslims, to Chinese (if the US fails to keep them in check), to the terrorists-du-jour: ISIS.
But the government fails to tell Americans, the 80 percent voiceless plebeians, that is, that our sanctimonious political system is nothing but a deceitful crock which accepts a lawless past in which the elite assumed power and enacted laws, while it now enforces a lawful present where the elite can maintain such power. Yeah . . . what the elite doesn’t need is a flock of anarchical agitators who might unbury the dark past!
Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, the policeman putting an end to his life, are pawns in the chess game where two masters battle in the definitive game where either fairness or continued captivity is achieved by checkmate. Given time, level heads are likely to prevail in finding truth and justice for these two men. But the game will continue being played, with Master Elite executing all the moves necessary to stay in-charge.
On the international front, America is confronted with a terrorist organization of its very own creation, ISIS. It is utterly hypocritical, and convenient, for the US to bury its past in the Middle East of over six decades . . . interfering and bloodying its hands in affairs which had nothing to do with Americans’ welfare, from regime changes, unnecessary wars, and sanctions which have yielded holocaustic, criminal results (i.e., infanticide of tens, if not hundreds of thousands in Iraq alone). America cannot disregard, or bury, its past actions in the Middle East (Iran included) . . . leaving a trail of vengeful enemies in its destructive path. The US was head obstetrician in the delivery of Al Qaeda; now it is a metamorphosed ISIS that Americans fear, always forgetting, disregarding the past.
On the domestic front, another ISIS has been looming of late: that of Impoverishment, Separatism, Ignorance and Servility. For now, no one is calling for exhuming the corpses of democracy and social justice, to perform much needed autopsies; and, until that day comes we are condemned to repeat mistakes made in the past.
As we disregard the past, we have little choice but face unpleasant consequences.
© 2014 Ben Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at email@example.com.