On Modern Times

Sometimes I feel like the world is a broken record. It never seems to change. The patterns persist, and I spend far too much time caught up in the net. But this year (2015) there is a feeling that has fallen over the Earth like dry heat. At first, it’s comfortable—perfect even—but soon you feel a need for reprieve from the subtly merciless and persistent temperature, slowly draining you of all energy.

We are on the verge of something significant, but it’s too early to tell whether it will be something good or something bad. Rationalism seems to be returning, and people appear to care again—the plague of apathy looks as though it’s on its final legs. Amazing things are happening. Yet simultaneously there is great evil working desperately to force us to succumb to despair. And while I’ve felt that pull to give up, to accept that the world is doomed to a Biblically horrific end, I also can’t help but remain steadfast in my optimism.

Humanity faces monumental challenges, and in the United States we are at a crossroads. Not only do we face a Presidential election in which the options are more of the same or a public statement, but culturally we must ween out some of our lesser tendencies.

Today, June 18th 2015, has been a particularly strange and trying day.  The first two bits of news that I read were of a truly disturbing nature. In Charleston, South Carolina some deranged and misguided individual shot up a historic church, which not only was instrumental in the Civil Rights movement but also has endured countless tragedies due entirely to a culture of racist belief. For a country that preaches freedom  and equality of all persons, as though it is the only thing that matters, we somehow still have these pockets of antiquated and demented thought. There are Americans with such hate in their heart, such immense delusion, that they feel it necessary to carry out these acts of terror against their fellow man.

In my own state of New Jersey, a cop murdered his ex-wife with their 7-year-old daughter in the car as fellow officers stood by and watched. Reports are now coming out that if they had shot him when he aimed and discharged the gun into his ex-wife for the second time, that a 7-year-old girl might not be an orphan. To make the whole story even more disturbing, his fellow blue-line-walking brothers hugged him before taking him into custody. If only Tamir Rice and the numerous other unarmed victims of police brutality were shown such restraint and compassion.

But even in spite of these incidents I remain hopeful. I understand that most Americans are not as depraved as these people. They are the minority, but their presence is simply unacceptable. However, these wholly wretched beings are a symptom of a much deeper issue.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, the U.S. is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. He was speaking about our government in protest of the Vietnam War. So when our leaders wonder why we have such mass violence maybe they should reflect upon the example they’ve set for us.

Then again, maybe it’s time we set the example for them. We must reclaim our country, our national soul, and damnit, we must learn to be decent to one another. This country and this Earth are shared spaces. We are only working against ourselves by allowing such destructive ideologies to scorch the planet. If we hope to provide a stable environment, where future generations can thrive, we must learn to understand that the individual is dependent upon the whole. We must stop letting petty superficialities divide us. To make us hate one another irrationally. It serves absolutely no beneficial purpose.

Yet as I said earlier, the evil in this world is outnumbered by those who hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future. It is desperate and that is why it continues to lash out. Do not let it faze you, and certainly do not succumb to despair.

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