Do Something to Change the System or Face the Consequences

It is the worst of times. It is the best of times.

My dear American cousins, looking down from a country that stretches across the top of your map it seems you are living through a tale of two ever more divided classes.

It is about as bad a time as has ever been if you’re a mother with three children from Honduras who is desperately trying to escape an abusive husband and start a new life in the United States.

But it is a very good time indeed if you’re an American billionaire with hundreds of millions of capital gains you seek to shelter from taxes.

If you’re a 23-year-old recent university graduate with over $50,000 in student loans, your job is mind-numbingly soul destroying, pays $11 per hour and requires a car you cannot afford, the future seems bleak indeed.

But if you’re a White nationalist business owner who refuses to serve gay or transgendered people and supports a law, similar to the Israeli nation state law, proclaiming the USA to be a Christian country, you feel very hopeful.

If you’re a supporter of a woman’s right to choose an abortion, a feeling of dread overcomes you every time the Supreme Court is mentioned.

If you understand science and have read the latest reports about climate change you feel we may be living through the beginning of a mass extinction.

But if you believe the Bible as interpreted by Reverend (fill in the blank) is the literal word of God you are enthusiastic about a president who is appointing good people as judges.

If you desire to make America great again, and don’t like immigrants, your country seems headed in the right direction.

But if you have diabetes and your wife suffers from hypertension and your employer just announced your co-pay and deductible will double, you are absolutely scared of what tomorrow might bring.

If you’re a gun-loving, citizens’ militia member, Trump supporting, impeachment-hating man who dreams of fighting in the next U.S. civil war, you’re excited to be alive and hopeful of becoming the next Stonewall Jackson.

What should an outsider, a non-American, make of this state of your affairs and should we care?

I’ve visited all your states except Hawaii. One of my grandfathers was American. One of my uncles fought for you in World War II. I’ve counted many Vietnam War draft dodgers as friends, had more than a few American professors and even possess a U.S. Social Security card because of working on ships that visited Washington and Alaska, so of course I care.

Like most Canadians who read newspapers, websites, listen to the radio and watch TV, it is impossible to ignore your news and I must be frank: You’ve got me worried. You’ve got a lot of us worried. What happens in the United States does not ever stay in the United States.

My partner and I were in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, and dined with an American couple on the day after Donald Trump was elected president. If we had known they were Republicans the dinner may never have happened, but I’m glad it did. We had a great discussion. They seemed as surprised as us that Trump had won. They seemed as worried as us about what would happen next. They seemed like genuinely nice people.

This is what gives me hope. I believe in the goodness and intelligence of ordinary people. I believe that if all the facts are presented to them and a fair debate amongst all points of view is held, they will make the right decisions. I believe in democracy.

I wouldn’t presume to interfere in the internal affairs of another country — a principle that should be in the UN Charter (oh, that’s right, it is Article 2.4) — but would offer these thoughts for you to consider.

The evils you do unto others is often visited upon you. One could argue that disregard for truth, ignoring the law, racism, misogyny, environmental catastrophe and “making America great again” are all blowbacks from what has been done in your name to others.

While he enables much of the bad stuff that worries the world, Donald Trump did not cause it. Rather, he is the product of a system that says greed is good, which was built on the foundation of slavery, racism, patriarchy and ecological destruction.

This point is critical. If you do not understand it and then do something to change the system, most people in your country, mine, and all the others, are truly in for the worst of times.

Gary Engler is the author of Puck Hog and the FAKE NEWS mysteries. Read other articles by Gary.