A Critical Vision and Mission – Part II of II
By Jorge D. H. Prósperi, 2020
So how do we begin to denormalize – transform – change as a people? How do we as Americans authenticate and fulfill the founding principles of America? How do we enhance the quality of life for all citizens – our fellow human beings? How do we value, recognize and validate each life – all life?
We begin by asking complex critical questions that lead to complex critical answers, thereby creating pro-active resilient and persistent actions to address each issue with the following core value etched, not only on the mighty dollar bill, but etched in the mind, heart and soul of each citizen. We do this regardless of race, zip code, ethnicity, schooling, age, sexual orientation, gender orientation, regional orientation, political ideology, socio-economic status, class. We do this as Americans in the 21st Century relentlessly working together, regardless of differences, united as one with and for each other. The calling has always been there beyond the deafening sirens of Wall Street.
E pluribus unum . . . Out of many one . . . with two added substantive elements
Annuit cœptis . . All things undertaken . . . as one
Novus ordo seclorum . . . New order of the ages . . . as one
America in the 21st Century . . . as one . . . do we dare to live the words?
The questions are not new. Each interrogative has a history since the birth of America. The daunting issue is that they continue to resurface and haunt each generation.
Therefore the answers must not be founded on antiquated partisan rhetoric and promises but on a new bold national matrix mobilized and focused on changing the status quo with national policies impacting the quality of life of rural, urban and suburban citizens.
But first, America must deal with the construction and context of each question. A process requiring critical thinking in order to examine introspectively and personally the meaning, purpose and essence of each question. This process is not a walk in the park. It will take time, effort and painful examination. But we must not walk away again from the struggle.
The questions are pertinent to each member of each family, each business, each legislator, each school district, each educator, each CEO, each Wall Street broker, each citizen, each human being.
What is most important to us? What is non-negotiable? What will we fight for? What will we prioritize as human beings and global citizens – as Americans – as rural, urban, suburban folks? What is our view of the world and its inhabitants? Does integrity, veracity, justice, democracy and equality matter and are they on the ballot each time we vote?
COVID-19 created such questions without waiting for a response. COVID-19 exposed the underbelly of open wounds of America’s citizenry. COVID-19 stripped America of partisan ideologies, partisan talking points, marketed metanarratives, denials and excuses.
COVID-19 stripped all self-appointed emperors of delusions of power and control. Such charlatanic autocrats now walk naked among us. Some of their followers blindly following – living in the 20th century holding on to self-oppressive fear, hate and bigotry while America tries desperately to define its soul.
The virus revealed and defined America as a divided dysfunctional society. A bleeding culture existing within isolated hamlets. A population born and raised on historical ignorance, delusions of narcissistic white grandeur, a self-absorbed international bully – undisciplined, capricious, immature, spoiled and negligibly educated about the earth, its history and inhabitants. So much for that shining city on the hill!
COVID-19 revealed America in 2020 led by a political party dedicated to anti-rationality, anti-cognition, anti-coherence, anti-transparency, anti-veracity, anti-democracy and anti-decency.
The current Trump administration and supporters are stark examples of believing and promoting an absolute transactional ideology (“What have you done for me lately?” – “Of course with strings attached!” – “Quid-pro-quo.”) with constructed boxes dividing, characterizing and defining losers, suckers and winners. An ideology – a psychosis that has plagued America since its inception.
Trump sees those dedicated to selflessness and service to a greater good as ‘losers, suckers and weak.’
The winners ignoring and rejecting empathy, avoiding reciprocal interactivity and co-constutive exchanges among all constituencies – a matter of the fittest surviving a dog-eat-dog world where authoritarianism, oppression, deception, dishonesty, corruption and chaos are viewed as a ladder to power and control.
COVID-19 undressed America still dealing with tribal fear-mongering, hate-groups professing manifestos of -isms and phobias. A nation blindly doubling down on behalf of the next “Great White Hope” of the decade. America tends to always revert to its darkest past, exhuming the next savior of whiteness.
The crucial question posed by COVID-19 is not whether the current administration’s ideology is toxic, divisive and separatist, because it is; but rather whether such an oppressive dogma reflects the character of America and whether it is acceptable – worthy of a people living in the 21st Century – worthy of promoting to future generations?
We now cling to the hope that Americans have always found a way to deal with tribal ignorance, bigotry, political pandering and condescension. We are a resilient and persistent people.
For many, the virus was a wake-up call to not return to the old normal and begin anew with honesty and vigor addressing historical wounds, changing historical institutions of power, reframing the national ethos and character, validating – recognizing – representing all citizens in respect to the following major problems and dysfunctions . . . and do it as unum.
~ HEALTH: Quality of Life
~ LEADERSHIP: Credible – Trustworthy Nonpartisan Moral Courage
~ RACISM: America’s Inherited Legacy and Shame
~ WHITE AMERICA: Liberating Itself from White Self-Oppression
~ EDUCATION: Reimagining Its Meaning and Purpose
~ ECONOMICS: Deconstruction of Capitalism
~ REGIONALISM: Beyond Local Nativism
~ POLITICS: Independence from Obstruction, Power and Control
~ VOTE: Advocacy, Mobilization and Access
~ MOTHER EARTH: A Matter of Life
~ WILL: Transformation and Change by Choice and Design
H E A L T H
The health question deals with the fundamental quality of life that should be the standard for all Americans. A standard that is founded by health care being an inalienable right and a central priority rather than a privilege based on socio-economic status and class.
Without access to quality health care we are paralyzed as a society, community – as individuals. The COVID-19 virus is providing each of us with such a reality. We can discuss all of the different ways that Health can be defined. We may differ as to its meaning but what we can agree on is the inherent value and impact that health has on each of our lives.
So how did America demonstrate to value human life during COVID-19? As sacred or as a commodity? What mattered – human health – economics – politics? Answers by the Trump administration were delayed, incoherent, uncoordinated. It waited for polls – to strategize before an election, thus creating confused truncated responses leaving each citizen to deal with regional answers and risks. Life itself became politically binary and transactional.
Nationally the response was ideologically and politically ‘economizized.’ Wall Street was a primary focus rather than dealing with the impact of a cataclysmic viral tsunami victimizing essential workers and those struggling with socio-economic discrepancies. Those at the bottom of the well were left to deal with added despair.
America failed its citizens because it did not have a vision, mission and guiding principle by which to answer its people when confronting such a crisis. Therefore those in power did not recognize, validate and value each life lost.
The prioritization of the quality of life centers on how citizens value the youngest and the eldest, by not what it says, but what it does via pro-active policies and programs. It does not wait for a global pandemic to define its ethos. The quality of each life should not be left to knee-jerk reactions.
It’s a simple formula. It begins by asking who are the most vulnerable among us? Are we willing to prioritize the eldest and the youngest – the most vulnerable?
Health cannot be taken seriously only when we face calamities. Such a limited philosophy only exposes the emptiness of a national character and conscience.
COVID-19 exposed the undeniable lack of local, state and national readiness in dealing with major health issues. What were the shortcomings as to the lack of crucial equipment, medical personnel deployment, tangible support and leadership as to coordination of logistical execution? To what degree were Medical Institutions, University Medical Schools, Research Centers, Hospitals, and the private sector ready to deal with catastrophic diseases of the 21st century?
To what degree were manufacturers ready to transform if and when needed? Was Wall Street ready and willing to promote and invest in emergency measures? How did the political leadership – (president, governors, local legislators) react to the crisis? Did the political leadership politicize and deflect responsibility or demonstrate non-partisan crisis management competence? Was a non-partisan immediate national mobilization management plan implemented on a national level?
L E A D E R S H I P
COVID 19 defined local, state and national leadership, or the lack thereof. The president lacked crisis management, maturity, intellect, veracity, coherent messaging and will. Ideologically, Trumpism lacked the science-based data, emotional intelligence and moral courage required during such a catastrophe. Instead, Trumpism played political games with American lives. This is not a cultural-critique but a matter of undeniable facts.
America was left on its own to cope and survive.
The president was exposed as unskilled, lacking vision and imagination as a 21st century problem solver. Trumpism, by way of legislative enablers and followers resulted in misinformation, confusion and chaos thereby wasting valuable time to deal with the virus itself.
Citizens were left to seek leadership in state governors, such as “that woman Whitmer from Michigan” or listen to coherent data-based daily briefings of Governor Cuomo of NY as America thirst for truth, knowledge, guidance and direction. During this time, the president held hostage America’s will to react.
Leadership must become a proven demonstrated skill by each candidate running for office. The crucial question being how each candidate would address crisis that is part and parcel of living in the 21st Century. There are other COVID-19 scenarios that the world will face. Leadership must become a proven and demonstrated skill set – not based on false promises, bravado, misinformation as reasons by which to hold on to power and control.
R A C I S M
Denormalizing our future will mean recognizing and dealing with the old and present normal of America’s socio-cultural malignancy that lives in the marrow of our historical bones . . . RACISM . . . and its lingering consequences: socio-economic inequalities, politicized fear mongering, Neo-Nazism, Anti-Semitism, Domestic Terrorism, White Nationalism, Hate Groups, Xenophobia and the psychosis that it produces.
Bigotry is not only part of America’s history, but is imbedded today in local communities across America for all to see on breaking news. Racism’s hate no longer is hiding in the shadows but now attends presidential rallies with pride and conviction desperately screaming to “take their white country back!”
We will not evolve as a human society until covert, overt, aversive and institutional racism is addressed educationally, socially, culturally, politically and economically by way of policies and rule of law.
We can continue to attend local/national multicultural workshops, diversity conferences and HR-PC required videos, but the pathology of racism is rooted deep in America’s soul. Like the COVID-19 virus, racism is in the air we breathe and it kills. Unfortunately, we can’t wear a mask to avoid it.
The anti -isms and phobias learning curve must begin in homes with parent(s) of conscience prioritizing awareness and respect for difference and otherness. This will take conviction, education and courage. The conversation must become a priority for white Americans who begin to see themselves as crucial change-agents and as part of the solution.
This will require white America to become historically astute and address racism with emotional intelligence, moral courage, resiliency – resisting ignorance, fear and hate. White America must come to terms with the stark reality that racism not only dehumanizes the victim but also the victimizer.
W H I T E A M E R I C A: Liberating Itself from White Self-Oppression
Racism is not only a burden for people of color but also, as James Baldwin reminds, white people having to deal with their “broken soul – being trapped by myths of entitlement and privilege – a false history – like a butterfly on a pin – incapable of seeing or chasing themselves or the world.”
Racism – all -isms and social phobias diminish humanity. While the victim is dehumanized by the racist, the victimizer dehumanizes himself/herself and becomes the victim of self-expression – trapped in its vortex of abhorent hate.
James Baldwin provides a startling description and indictment of white America in his essay “The White Man’s Guilt” written in 1965 for Ebony magazine. Keep in mind the year and times – Civil Rights unrest, assassination of Malcom X, Selma, Watts erupting. In his essay Baldwin speaks directly to white America as stark, honest and raw:
“White man, hear me! History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations. And it is with great pain and terror that one begins to realize this. In great pain and terror one begins to assess the history which has placed one where one is, and formed one’s point of view.”
In his essay Baldwin describes white America as being self impaled, believing in a history that is mainly a lie, barricaded inside by its own revised story, struggling with personal schizophrenic racial incoherence of ignorance, guilt and shame.
As we view all of the challenges that America faces in 2020, the key questions becomes . . . So what has changed since 1965?” Have we faced America’s history boldly and with veracity? Has the COVID-19 and civil unrest taught us to deal with the pain, horror and dysfunction of our imperfect and frail union? What is our personal role – our power of influence in the pursuit of personal and community change?
E D U C A T I O N ~ R E I M A G I N E D ~ T R A N S F O R M E D
Education must be prioritized by instituting critical thinking skills and critical pedagogy beginning at the youngest of ages focusing on citizenship. This major change should be made across the curriculum beginning at the pre-school level because anti-racist teaching and learning must not wait. I posit that anti-racist learning must being on the first day the child is born – the first day the child is brought home into a family – a community. It beings with the language – the sentiment – the context the child will hear on a daily basis.
At some point the child will move to the next social curricular influence – schooling. This will mean administrators and teachers need to be retrained as to how all subjects, teaching methods, learning theories and curriculum play a role in combating racism, its genesis, its tenets and its insidiousness in keeping America from realizing its founding democratic principles.
Colleges of Education would prioritize and recognize their role and power of influence in society authenticating, amplifying and maintaining the core principles of democracy, justice, rule of law, voting, free press, inclusivity and opportunities of worth for all citizens.
Teachers, from pre-school through college, must become anti-racism agents. This means not remaining neutral as observers but clearly taking a stand against America’s socio-cultural disease that keeps education itself captive from reaching its core meaning and purpose – to foster the core responsibilities of citizenship in the 21st century.
Such a major transformation will mean shifting emphasis from a content based curriculum to a socio-cultural syllabus. This will require a major transformation dealing with how racism is learned, constructed and how it can be unlearned and deconstructed.
Children are an innocent captive audience to parent(s), families, schooling and society at large. They are not born racists. Prejudice, hate, predispositions, bigotry is learned via language, modeling and a social curriculum that washes over children on a daily basis.
This is why anti-racism advocacy requires a dramatic social – multicultural – multigenerational response. Anti-racism must become a way of life because it is not an event – it is a living organism infecting and debilitating the youngest among us.
Traditional Language Arts, 2nd Languages, History, Social Studies, Math, Science, Humanities, Athletics, Extracurricular Experiential Learning, Fine/Performing Arts, Ethics, Psychology and Vocational areas of study would not change as to their individual value, but all subjects would be required to connect with how each content area plays a role in impacting and enhancing citizenship.
Education focused and defined as a means to a profession would become the second priority with citizenship becoming the first in order to achieve an astute, critical thinking citizenry that votes with knowledge-based clarity, critical intelligence and conscience focusing on the quality of life for all.
Such a herculean national challenge will require leadership by Public Schools with Public School Administrators and Public School Educators to be in the forefront of such socio-cultural change.
I boldly suggest that single gender, faith-based, private and independent schools can’t be counted on nor trusted to lead the way regarding socio-cultural change as they are tied to tuition based – antiquated traditional – status quo – ideological dogma dealing with change only when faced with crisis rather than leading with pro-active 21st Century vision on social justice, inclusivity and equality. Such schools tend to safely follow rather than boldly lead. Therefore, it is up to public schools to carry the weight on such a national mobilization.
E C O N O M I C S ~ C A P I T A L I S M ~ R E C O N S T R U C T E D
Imagine if Wall Street shut down by choice – by design and boycotted in order to address inequalities, injustices, social -isms and phobias? Imagine if each CEO and broker on Wall Street decided not to take that train from the suburbs and march on Washington against socio-economic injustices and inequalities? Imagine if every broker, trader, real estate broker, financial analysis, advisor, auditor decided to boycott Wall Street!
You can’t imagine it . . . can you?
But dream with me . . . imagine if Wall Street decided to reframe Capitalism, Free Enterprise, Supply and Demand in order to comply with the tenets of justice, inclusivity, equality and genuine opportunities of worth? Imagine if no outside governmental agency regulated such a change but if Wall Street changed via its own design.
You can’t imagine it . . . can you?
Imagine if Wall Street took a stand on gun violence, domestic terrorism, homelessness, poverty, minimum wage and universal health care. Imagine if Wall Street, with every opening and closing bell began to ask what is the value of one life – the life of each citizen and how can Wall Street make a significant difference?
Imagine if Wall Street began to focus on the socio-economic divide between the “haves and the have-nots?” Seriously asking why in America – in the 21st century – some segments of American society struggle to make a decent living while some live a “fail safe” existence?
Imagine if Wall Street boycotted financial markets until Washington paid attention to such an agenda? How long would it take to get the attention of the president, senate and congress to stop – literally stop everything they were doing and pay attention? Would it take months, weeks, hours or seconds? You know the answer. It would happen instantaneously and unequivocally!
So why does Wall Street continue with the “same-old-same-old” ideology? Is it to blindly sustain the economic status quo? Is it about traditional greed? Or is it all about power and control?
Why does Wall Street remain silent – disturbingly neutral during pandemics, civil unrest, economic inequalities, blatant racism, domestic terrorism, white nationalist incidents, white collar crimes, ecological-environmental facts and challenges, political corruption and criminality, minimum wage and health care cirses?
R E G I O N A L I S M B E Y O N D B O R D E R S
One of America’s greatest divides is its socio-cultural-regional construction. America is overdue to deconstruct the fictional and delusional regionalism it has created in order to maintain power and control over citizens. America is stuck on North, South, East and West states – blue and red states – once grey states. I posit that state rights is a form of state jingoism – as much a delusion as national jingoism. Such regionalism works with March Madness . . . but the socio-cultural emphasis on regionalism is just madness!
Regionalism is a form of self-oppression and divisiveness. It plays well for political charlatans, lobbyists and campaign managers, but it leaves Americans isolated in times of crisis. Upon facing COVID-19, we miserably failed the e pluribus unum test. We discovered that for some states, state rights were just another leftover from the Jim Crow legacy keeping America divided and politicized.
P O L I T I C A L D E C O N S T R U C T I O N
The three branches of government- executive, legislative and judicial require serious examination as to legislative issues regarding processes, power, control, obstruction, oversight, regulations and ethical conduct.
Obstructionism is prevalent and delays legislation due to political pandering, partisanship and political self-interests. The outcome is that citizens pay the price. Again, COVID-19 brought such dysfunctions to the surface calling for change.
The two party system is in need of critical review, if not reconstruction. The political system needs fumigation at all levels. It is time to re-examine the Constitution through 21st Century lenses and realities.
Democrats and Republicans must begin to let go of antiquated imprinted ideological talking points and join a moderate independent movement defined by ethics, integrity, authenticity, transparency, critical discourse, collaboration with a laser focus on policies – legislation with vigor – dedicated 100% to enhancing the QUALITY OF LIFE of each citizen without partisanship, gerrymandering and/or fear of the next election.
It is time for all Americans to become Independents without loyalty to one party but to each other as fellow citizens.
V O T E R E M O T I O N A L I N T E L L I G E N C E – M O R A L C O U R A G E
Each vote matters and should be made with awareness and grounded in the conviction that as a society, no citizen seeking political office will be considered who is a Racist, Sexist, Xenophobe, Jingoist, Homophobe, Misogynist, Charlatan and/or Pathological Liar.
COVID 19 taught America the consequences that a nation faces when there is a lack of leadership during times of crisis. The underbelly of America was exposed by COVID-19. It showed Americans and the world that America is dysfunctional requiring national therapy.
Yes, good old Uncle Sam needs some serious introspection and reflection as to social -isms and phobias. Unfortunately, there is no one National Psychiatrist or Psychologist. That job is left for each of us to look deep inside our minds, hearts and spirits.
M O T H E R E A R T H ~ V A L I D A T I N G H E R W O R T H
There is an inherent reason why we call our earth Mother. We got this one right – Mother Earth. We should be more respectful of her – more protective – more aware of her love, power and control. We typically only recognize her by way of catastrophes – hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, wind storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, droughts, wild fires – pandemics.
Mother Earth continually reminds us that she is in charge and yet she is struggling to cleanse herself from our contaminations. In 2020 she is asking for our awareness and assistance to be her responsible and loyal children.
Our dear mother requires attention because she is running out of time. Yet another reminder that returning to the same old normal is no longer acceptable. Mother Earth is asking us – pleading with us on “the pulse of each morning.”
As Maya Angelou reminds . . . “On the Pulse of Morning”* . . . every morning from here on in . . . to listen . . . to see . . . “a rock, a river, a tree“ . . . calling out to us . . . “clearly, forcefully” . . . “to face a distant destiny” and legacy.
The screens of Cable News Networks will continue showing images of pundits with smaller screens showing numbers of those victimized by COVID-19. We will continue to see as well the infamous Wall Street charts with arrows showing numbers going in different directions.
COVID-19 has also provided arrows pointing to pathways leading to new landscapes . . . uncharted . . . daunting . . . audaciously daring us to move forward with emotional intelligence, critical thinking, selfless advocacy and moral courage. Do we dare to denormalize our minds, hearts and spirits?
W I L L I N G O U R D E S T I N Y
We know we can do this but the ultimate question is whether we have the resolve – the genuine desire to compromise – to find consensus – to deal with the essence of will.
*Maya Angelou first read the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton on January 20, 1993. The poem speaks of freedom, evolution, growth and change. “On the Pulse of Morning” calls out for unity, faith, hope and determination. We miss her so . . .