Tuesday, July 23, 2013

All Those Expendable People, Where Do They All Come From?

In the wake of the court decision in the Florida case of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, I wish humanity could “wake up” and realize that all people are in need of and deserving of respect, no matter where they come from, what they look like, how intelligent or not they may be. The planet is not likely to survive very much longer, unless respect is bred and nurtured so that all people know they are needed and wanted.

There are so many people of various religious or social orders who feel they can say they are better than other people and that people who don’t believe what they believe or who don’t come from where they come from are outsiders, even worse, people who are no better than dogs. Such people are the vilest of hypocrites.

You are to treat the resident alien the same way you treat the native born among you—love him like yourself, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.  (Leviticus 19:34)

We all live on a fragile planet that would work for us better and longer if we were good stewards. The place to begin is for us all to realize that all life is integral, and perhaps even more symbiotic than the material lifestyles we fret about and foster.

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)

Since the beginning of human existence, there has been injustice and inequity. Throughout the ignoble and iniquitous social history of humanity, women, children, the aged and ill, people with varying preferences of all sorts, foreigners and travelers, the highly intellectual, the mentally incapacitated and those who have been crippled or maimed, have each been over-run exploited, exiled, oppressed, trafficked or enslaved. In these cases, race might or might not be a factor, but most certainly, domination, generally by power hungry males of the species has been the common factor involved.

The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (Psalm 146:9)

The same moral dilemma exists now, as ever. Is it right to oppress and suppress any group of people? Rhetorically, we know the answer to be NO, OF COURSE NOT. Every exemplar throughout time has advised that it is better to be good. Every monster throughout history has laughed in that person’s face and sentenced that person to death, invoking the “I can do anything I want because I am stronger than you are, so I don’t have to be good” logic of the sociopath.

If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the LORD gives us. (Numbers 10:32)

How can it be explained to controlling people, unscrupulous dictators, corrupt business leaders, hypocritical gurus and demagogues that human beings are the biggest natural resource on the planet? And in no way do I mean in terms of expendability. This is the cardinal error of the control monger, the bank executive, the authoritarian, the mob boss; the common thread of thinking, based on common actions and the results of such actions, is that people are expendable, that it is okay to use them, abuse them, even to use them up and dump them.

…when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are an expendable, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr.; I changed “a Negro” to “an expendable” and added emphasis.)

Here is a truly radical statement: If we each cared about ourselves enough to extend that caring to everyone and everything around us, the entire world would be better off.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... (Imagine, John Lennon)

Simplistic? A Pipe Dream? Or could it be an environmentally sound economic plan?

Right now, there is an amoral rationale among a jockeying and ever smaller group of people we might call “the Elite”—certainly these people think of themselves as such, and all the power they have and the decisions they make that affect your life and my life and the lives of people all over the world—who don’t seem to be related to us by anything other than an overwhelming powerlessness—follow the formula that says: use it up, use it all up, now and until there isn’t anymore. This is the formula of expendability. Natural oil reserves, once gone are gone forever. The drill, baby drill and frack, baby frack ethos has created a daisy chain of natural disaster waiting to happen—doesn’t anyone remember that the liquids in the ground are like joint lubricant? Pump it out, use it up, it's gone.

By the same token, we are sold and fed foods that are bad for us, so that we become unhealthy and in need of expensive medical care and drugs that frequently have known or unknown side-effects and unforeseen consequences. We are taxed on income and further taxed on homes, on transportation, infrastructure, indeed we are taxed because we are alive. This is more in the unbroken chain unsound economics; once we are pumped out, used up and gone, what next? Homelessness and worse is the answer to that question for a lot too many people.

I could be a bit in the nutty side—I’ll just go right ahead and admit that—but I think that we could build a better and more equitable community if we work the stewardship angle, where we do the very best we can do for ourselves and other people. If we keep the water clean, and make it available for everyone; if we grow natural food and make it available for everyone to purchase for their families; if we educate people for the sake of educating, rather than money; if we develop urban farming and new housing alternatives, not just here (wherever “here” is for you), but everywhere, we can create jobs that help the environment. Heck, even if all we did right now was to hire people to answer phones, we would improve the quality of life.

Do you see where I am headed? Right now, it is all about shooting down, cutting, eliminating, taxing, spending, expending, ravaging and stealing, diminishing, extinguishing.

Maybe the world would be different if we understood economic growth to be about all people equally (and responsibly) engaged in creating, making, growing, educating, earning, upholding, maintaining and sharing. If such a model were to emerge, it must work top-down as well as bottom-up; all need to be willing, invested and engaged. People: This is how you maintain your tax-base as an infinite resource, not just for earnings and for upkeep, but for GOOD!

If we lived in that kind of world, a man like Zimmerman might not have felt threatened or tweaked by the presence of a man named Martin, and we would be celebrating life, rather than arguing and rioting over laws that do not protect, legal decisions that allow people and governments and corporations to kill and steal, a way of life that makes us all expendable.

… time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity. (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now is, and has always been, the time; not just here, but everywhere.

If not now, when?

© 2013 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen