Humans are very emotional creatures. We like to think of ourselves as primarily rational beings, but for most of us, our emotions run the show – whether it be conscious or below the surface of our awareness. In fact, the most logical people who stubbornly assert that they live only by the facts are probably those most susceptible to be controlled by a subconscious emotional agenda.
For as long as humans have lived in communities and have sought to protect themselves from threats and perceived threats, scape-goating has existed. It is so much easier to blame our anxiety and existential dread on someone or something outside of our selves and our communities than it is to look inward and stand still, face to face with our fears.
Today in America, we face an interesting situation. We have drawn the experiment of materialism to its logical end, systematically attacking the “feminine” to the detriment of the well-being of our people, our land, our water, our animals. From this we have the end results of wide-scale poverty, discrimination against Native Americans and their ancestral way of life which innately respects nature and the feminine. Although much progress has been made, wide spread discrimination against African-Americans still persists. Immigrants and refugees, women, the LGBT community, and working class peoples of all origins are frequent targets of inequalities and prejudice as well. A widespread sense of insecurity leads to fear, anger, anxiety.
Some politicians like to choose the easy route and to blame “outsiders” such as immigrants or refugees, or select foreign terrorists as a target for the unease that Americans are experiencing. This distraction is very dangerous. One, because it is a lie. I am not making an apology for terrorism of any kind, which is senseless and immature cruelty and a form of scapegoating which I condemn in this post. All human lives are precious, and any harm done to any individual by any organization is inexcusable.
What I am attempting to discuss here is the internal political and social situations in America today and how fear mongering is used to manipulate public opinion, public spending, and our political system. Statistically, terrorism caused by foreign-born Djihadists is such a minor threat as to be almost considered inconsequential when it comes to our national security. Since 2001 (9/11), 45 individuals have been killed in terrorist attacks organized by foreign-born Djihadists. More Americans have been killed American-born by anti-government militants during this same period of time, yet the perception of this reality is not widely known. We are lead to believe that the biggest threat to public safety in America is Islamic inspired terrorism. This is very far from the truth. Immigrants and refugees have absolutely no responsibility for the huge amounts of gun violence, drug use, poverty, wage inequality, institutionalized racism, abuse of workers and the environment by large corporations, extremely poor food and water safety in America, the degradation of our infrastructures, or the lack of affordable quality food, housing, medications, or health care in America. These are the real threats that plague America today. It is finding solutions to these problems and many others that are the real challenges for our people and our leaders.
By looking inward and examining the problems we are experiencing in America today, we can see that most of us feel left out. We feel insecure about our ability to create a decent quality of life for our families now, and we feel worried about the legacy we will be leaving for our children. We are anxious about the state of our fresh water supply, about toxicity in our food system, about the overuse of antibiotics, chemicals, pesticides and plastics. We care that workers have little to no protections and that large corporations run our country without oversight, regulations, or accountability. We fret that the cost of higher education is growing exponentially while our wages are stagnant. We contribute to our country but receive little in return. We feel that we are exploited and that we have no voice.
If we can sit still and accept those emotions of insecurity and worry and fear for a long moment, we will understand that these emotions are a natural extension of a human desire to belong to a community and a need to feel empowered. We all desire to contribute using our natural talents and to be recognized for our contributions. We each crave dignity and the freedom to exist as an individual within a community which respects and needs us. We also need to take responsibility for our part in the status quo. As adults, we feel the need to express our voice, and courage is required to step up and to voice our concerns, especially when the expression of these concerns may threaten our personal safety or livelihood.
Self-awareness is a prerequisite for maturity and adulthood. We cannot consider ourselves to be adults until we accept responsibility for our own pain, our own shortcomings. We mature when we realize that frustrations and challenges are part of each human life. Empathy for others grows out of this realization. Blaming others for our problems is both childish and dangerous. This type of behavior limits our own freedoms, those of other peoples, and it restricts our ability to grow as individuals and as communities.
To bring about the changes we would like to see in our country, we have to individually and collectively accept that our country is out of balance. Many groups have been working in many different areas towards social justice. Some promote civil rights or wage equity, others food safety, while yet others advocate for the preservation of our environment to help prevent the growing reality of climate change the consequences of which we all must face around the world. As these groups come together, our collective voice expands and resonates. The need to grow and support our communities and our collective needs as a nation is becoming obvious. We want to protect our individual rights, but too many of us have been left out of the equation.
It is natural to worry, but it is not fair to blame foreigners or other “outsiders” for our problems. While it is challenging to be an adult and to accept full responsibility for the troubles which afflict all of us as a group, this is the only attitude which can lead to positive change, to the political revolution of which Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks. We are all individuals and we are all part of communities. The extensive devotion of American society to the cult of individualism has left us handicapped and lopsided. Almost all of the wealth has tilted to one side, accumulating in the laps of a very few and very greedy billionaires.
While individualism in itself is not an evil, it becomes one when the community and its needs are neglected. These needs are the voice of the feminine spirit, a necessary counter-point to the masculine voice of individualism. We need a balance in which all individuals are respected and allowed to express their talents and voices, and in which the collective needs of our society are also met. It is clear today that our society based on the Capitalist philosophy has failed, because no society can prosper without taking into consideration the balance of individual freedoms and collective responsibilities.