I was particularly troubled this week when the "Tea Party Debate" bore out, once again, the ugliest of American qualities during a couple of points: Particularly when people shouted with glee at the idea of letting a man die and at the applause Rick Perry got after bragging about all the people he killed.
The Tea Party consistently shows us the ugliest of human emotions, as they root for ending programs that help people, encourage the destruction of the environment and call for the end of Civil Right Legislation. They have stomped on people's heads at their rallies, they promote openly racist candidates and causes and so forth, while at the same time talking about the importance of religion, and that Christianity is the only real religion. Isn't Jesus that one who had so much to say about love and compassion? You see my confusion here...
After Mr. Obama was elected, he re-instituted a very good tradition that had not been observed since the days of the Einsenhower years (I can't be absolutely sure if Eisenhower was the last one, but I think I heard that somewhere...) of addressing the school students toward the beginning of the school year to encourage them to do their part as Americans, and take school seriously, do their best and go on to get great jobs and be great Americans. A really great idea.
The first speech came up, and there was havoc in the schools. Parents were calling, forbidding their children to see Obama's speech. Letters were sent home to parents outlining the speech and saying that there were places their children could go if they didn't want them to see the president. It was mayhem.
So, would there have been this controversy if Jimmy Carter or George Bush or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan wanted to address the youth of our nation? I think not. After all, these men were Presidents of the United States, and it's good for the president to encourage the youth, right? Not if you have dark skin, apparently.
The election of our nation's first black president seemed to have blown the cap off of the below-eye-level racism that had existed in the country.
While racism has been subtly rampant, and such things have occurred as the closing of theaters and stores during the 1960s to avoid having to allow 'minorities' and have never opened; the continuous problem with exclusive clubs that have no race policy, but seem to refuse any non-white members and such have continued to be part of mainstream America; the brutally overt incidents of racism have been limited to violent radicals typically associated with neo-nazi or KKK types of groups.
But the election of a black president seems to have been more than the covert racists could bear, and they began to show their radical side. The GOP is now near or in the category of outright fascism.
During the 2010 midterm elections, we saw some of the ugliest campaigning in history: Comment like "if ballots don't work, bullets will" were flying fast. Immigration from a straight-out racist perspective became hot issues. Candidates talked openly about overturning aspects of the Civil Rights Acts. It was ugly, and it was scary.
Now as the 2012 campaign season has been kicked off, the GOP candidates seem to only be stepping up their rhetoric. The idea of Sharia law taking over the country, an idea absurd at any level, is a big topic among these candidates, who have reframed the "War Against Terror" as a "We are at war with Islam." Remember the crusades? These are specifically racist ideas generated only to direct hatred toward the 1,000,000,000 Muslims on our planet.
This, obviously, is not Obama's fault. He has never made an issue of his race, 'played the race card' or, to the best of my knowledge, said anything racist. The mere idea of a black person in such a position of authority has pushed them into such a radicalized state of panic that they are unable to contain their hatred, and it is affecting a large portion of the country.
Until recently radicals and crazies were seen as such, and their influence on our society seemed to be minimal. Now they have a huge power base.
The difference between the left and right at this point seems to be a factor of one character trait: compassion.
People who have compassion wish to help their fellow refrain from suffering, and as such currently make up the Democratic party. Those who only care about themselves, and don't care if people suffer, die, are killed, are living in poverty, are sick, old feeble, what have you - make up the GOP.
Sadly, the country seems to be fairly evenly divided at this point, with more, by the day, joining ranks with the radicals on the right.
It is one thing to begrudgingly see a person's when they elude to the fact that a person's choice may cause them to die (the fact is that most people who are uninsured are not because of free will, but because they cannot afford insurance, but that is another point...) it is another thing to actively cheer the idea of someone dying. It is one thing to understand that some people are so damaged that they can never be rehabilitated (despite research throughout the world that this is rarely true...) it is another to cheer a man who has been personally responsible for allowing hundreds of people to be executed (and remember, too, that the US Supreme Court had to intervene today so that a person who may be innocent, but is not white did not have to die in Texas, because Gov. Perry refused to stop the execution.) These responses are not just merely right wing, they are savage.
Furthermore, in a compassionate society, these are not even ideas we entertain.
So what is to be made of a country where half the people are compassionate and want to help their fellow humans, and half would just as soon see them die, even if they are innocent, and especially if they are not white?
There is also a massive movement in this country toward extreme spiritualism (not radical religion) where people are making amazing spiritual advances and discovering levels of compassion, love and enlightenment that used to be reserved for gurus on high mountains in the East. People in vast numbers are meditating, helping, caring, living in service to others and so forth. So while one group of people are becoming much more compassionate, another group of people seem to be honing hatred at an equal and opposite level. I don't currently know what to make of this, or what it means.
I have read science fiction books where the human race becomes divided, and part of them live as enlightened yogis, while the other part go below ground and live like trolls. I haven't read such books since I was in Junior High School, so I don't remember any details. But, is this what might be happening to us as a species?
I read an article this week about a wonderful children's book that explored the idea of evolution that was rejected by US publishers as being too controversial. The Canadian publisher that put it out seems to be quite content with the money and awards it has generated - but really? Evolution too controversial to publish?
Does the right reject the idea of evolution because they have stopped evolving?
Perhaps the next stage of evolution is not so much a physical adaptation as a spiritual/emotional/mental adaptation, and there are some who are just not going to be able to evolve.
Of course, most spiritual literature talks about the notion that Nirvana is a place everyone will have to get to, not just some, but maybe at this stage of the game, there are a lot who are not going to be making that jump for quite some time.