Contributing to Troubled Times

We are living in troubled times. Of late, every day we see murder, mayhem and bloodshed, from a few bodies to even thousands. We see it in media headlines and hear it on cable news. It seems that different forms of madness have gripped various countries and cultures, but the US is displaying a special kind: racism.

There are phone videos showing unarmed black men killed by police officers, apparently moved to shoot first, with threatening racist stereotypes ingrained in their minds. How else can you explain a Miami police officer shooting an unarmed black man lying on the ground with his hands up? When behavior therapist, Charles Kinsey, asked the officer why he shot him, the officer said, “I don’t know.” Kinsey, who survived, was trying to help an autistic man who escaped from a group home, but was still handcuffed, while waiting twenty minutes to have his wounds tended. Cuffing a grievously wounded man shows total disregard for his humanity.

Police officers were murdered by enraged black men in Dallas, a city making racial progress by the police, and also one making little or no progress, Baton Rouge. It didn’t seem to matter for the shooters. Blind rage guided both young men, apparently mentally deranged. Earlier, Baton Rouge was the site of an unarmed black man being killed by police as he lay totally restrained on the pavement.

Omar Mateen, who perpetrated the Orlando gay-bar massacre, was also mentally disturbed, though the media chose to portray the events as an act of terrorism rather than a deranged man with easy access to powerful firearms. The shooter of the Dallas policemen was also mentally deranged though high on a radical hatred of police. Perhaps adding to the angst and resentment, the media gives the loudest and most contentious audience to voices like Rudy Giuliani, who called Black Lives Matter racist.

Then too, there are scores of innocents murdered by crazed individuals, often under the auspices of terrorism. Most do not involve holy wars of jihad. It’s more like being prompted or programmed by a craze advertised in the global media. The perpetrators often have diseased minds, activated to acts of deadly violence, energized by profitable and profuse gun markets and an apartheid atmosphere of upheaval and resentment. Media seems to contribute, thriving on a bunker mentality and seeming to prefer the sensationalism of terrorism rather than local radicalism with unbalanced perps. Witnesses report that the current Munich massacre assailants are right-wing radicals rather than terrorists, whom the corporate media prefers to blame.

More and more, we see no extended shield of protection for the innocents: children mowed down by a deranged behind-the-wheel murderer and adults massacred while seeking wholesome enjoyment. Likewise, there is no solace for the parents of a son celebrating a life at the wrong address, a life ended by a paranoid, gun-loving property owner. Even our paid protectors, the police, become targets of crazed gunmen, bringing death, not because of the color of their skin but due to the uniform they wear.

It seems that hate and anger is all around us, an angry global hive of potential instant death and mayhem, whatever your pursuits, wherever you are. Some is preordained by racial biases, seemingly in the air we breathe, and some fed by misplaced paranoia. It is often fanned by vested interests – partisan, private or even fake grass-roots organizations.

At a broad, overarching level, there is an ever-present need to divide and conquer, still scripted by agents of free market control, needing to invest a cultural change that will subdue a true freedom to share in the marketplace.

A sense of ruthless individualism has been built into the code of conservatism, which tends to breed competition and exclusion rather than striving for the common good. Mass murders, often random and many under the guise of terrorism, add to the frenzy of fear and suspicion.

Foreign entities living in European urban areas and emigrants of all stripes are rejected more and more. This further stiff-arms camaraderie and breeds discontent, especially among the vulnerable and mentally unbalanced. Too often, their targets are the happy and the innocents, this to maximize outrage and insecurity.

We live in a preordained state of siege. In America, the empathy and brotherhood of nurturing others present in the 1960s and 70s has been replaced by a grasping greed that swept in a cultural revolution during the last two generations. A crony capitalism stripped of empathy replaced the democratic socialism of LBJ’s Great Society. Rather than helping the mentally ill and the poor, we imprison them. Rather than providing the means for equal opportunity, we strip away prospects and hope.

Then the Great Recession stripped the last vestiges of assets from the middle class and the poor and gave them to our Wall Street tormentors and the corporate forces they represented – this through policies that reduced taxes for the rich, stripped funds from education, and disempowered middle class institutions.

Inequality has spread worldwide, squeezing out the insignificant and leaving less for the middle classes. Whether living in urban America, beleaguered Baghdad, or European ghettos, the spurned and the hated look for saviors to raise them out of gloominess and stagnation. They live on the edge of resentment, polarized and oppressed.

Some Americans look for fraudsters like Donald Trump for relief; the culturally isolated in Europe look for a cause and a target of resentment; the desperate in the Middle East  search for food, security and shelter; predatory Iraqis look for sectarian revenge; and the ruthless and radical look for meaning in causes that devour others.

What helps set this all in a discordant motion? It’s a worldwide force that wants to control and conquer global resources without regard to anything or anyone else. For example, we are finding that the mostly-mogul architects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seem to be continuing in that harsh direction, in spite of growing evidence that it is killing our planet and one another.

But too many world citizens settle for this divisive order rather than a harmony of working together.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.