America in Black and White – Part IV – Nature and Nature’s God

America in Black and White – Part IV – Nature and Nature’s God

America in Black and White – Part IV – Nature and Nature’s God

In this series, “America in Black and White,” Part IV is the most difficult to write. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because there is little to say that you don’t already know.

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, prisoners who were chained for years in a cave believed that shadows they saw on a wall were reality. One eventually was freed and led out into the light.  After a while, he returned and tried to describe to those who remained chained the truth of their situation, but they condemned him, preferring the comfort of the shadows.

The beauty in the world outside our cave is difficult to see. Material comforts are concentrated in Western Europe and North America, where 12 percent of the world’s population accounts for 60 percent of private consumption. By comparison, the third of the world living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa account for 3.2% of private consumption.

The growing wealth gap is primarily driven by the West. Seventy-eight percent of the world’s millionaires are in Europe and North America, and nearly half of them are in the United States. This year, the wealth held by the richest 1 percent threatens to surpass that of the other 99 percent.

Global warming is a fact. There will be more and more drought, wildfires, stronger storms, floods, and rising sea levels. By the year 2050 there are expected to be 2 billion more people on earth. Tribal and religious conflicts continue to rage, fueled and fomented by a voracious military industrial complex. There are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, currently controlled by nine countries. Other nations with ambitions of domination are attempting to develop their own nuclear capabilities.

Given the values that frame our lives – anything-for-a-profit, materialistic consumerism, dog-eat-dog competition – I pray that my children will not have to live in the world that my logic foresees.

Most of us prefer the shadows. We tend to be too greedy or too busy trying to survive to see past today. Many of us recognize the danger ahead, but are complacent, and simply watch it unfold. We are either overwhelmed by the seemingly enormous challenges, or we are satisfied with a roof and a meal, but in denial about the fragility of the comforts that we enjoy.

The world would be different if we lived in accordance with the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. It would not be so damaged. We would not take more than we need while others have less than they need. We also would not harm our stewardship, the earth. We are, after all, as responsible for it as it is for us.

We also would be one single tribe, the human tribe.

So then, what are the keys to achieving Aspirational America?

  1. Accept that the America we admire and pledge our allegiance to is not real. It is a dream that has not yet come true.
  2. Live by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.
  3. Accept Americans who are poor and of color, particularly black Americans, as equal human beings and do the work necessary to make it so.

The last point is especially challenging because of greed, white fear of the loss of preferential treatment, poor whites’ perception that they are better off simply because they are white, and the need for some of the gains of white privilege to be redistributed to those negatively impacted, especially black people.

Perhaps a good place to start is with a conviction shared by many Christians, Muslims, and Founding Fathers: that we should follow the basic teachings of Jesus, who instructed us to feed the hunger and quench the thirst of the poor. There is easily enough wealth in this world to do both.

Next, focus on enabling every human being to reach his or her full potential, to be free. Wealthy schools have public and private resources that are unavailable to poor schools. Wealthy property tax bases and wealthy parents provide well-fed students with well-paid teachers, low student-teacher ratios, well-paid counselors, the latest technology, up-to-date books, safe living environments, etc. All students – rich and poor – should have the same assets. The differences can be funded with a tax on our wealthiest citizens – many of whom for generations have benefited, and continue to benefit, from the policy of white privilege.

It is also vitally important that the history and social studies we teach in our schools be based in fact, not propaganda.

Our individual capacity to address these concerns will vary. What is crucial, however, is that we accept our responsibility to each other and to the earth that we steward, and respond according to our ability.

Our decisions, actions, or neglect determine the condition of our world, and the quality of our lives. If enough of us come out of the shadows, speak the truth, and live according to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, then Aspirational America can be real, and our children will see the love in the world and the hope for the future.

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