Lately, I’ve heard people use the above statement when describing our current state of national affairs. It seems to be a pretty accurate statement. Something has derailed and everything following behind derails too. Last week was a major train wreck, and judging from my Facebook and Twitter feeds people couldn’t look away. I found post after post about the shootings, first two black men then five police officers killed. Something derailed and the bodies piled up. People blamed everybody and everything except perhaps the cause of the derailment.
This week, many people’s hopes were dashed when Bernie endorsed Hillary for president ensuring another four years of the same old, same old. The rich get richer and gain more power. People work harder and longer hours and their earnings meet fewer of their needs. The number of homeless continues to grow. My own foster daughter is now facing a threat of homelessness. Of course, she can come live with me although I’m not sure where we will put her, and she will be isolated from all her friends.
Many of us have worked our whole lives to make a difference in the lives of other people. I’ve worked hard to give thousands of children and youth a chance at a stable secure life. Unfortunately, nothing I taught is going to protect a black man from getting shot. Those children I loved will still have their jobs shipped overseas. Kids I stood up for and protected will still be exposed to tainted food and toxic water supplies.
I try to look at the positive notes around me, and I do see many, many people talking about loving one another. We all seem to know the right answer in a Face Book post. I wonder if we all know the answer when confronted with the reality that we are the ones who must control our anger, or we each need to donate ten or twenty dollars to keep an at-risk person in their apartment.
While I was battling my grief and disappointments of the past few weeks, a woman I barely know started a campaign to tell my closest co-workers how terrible I am. Huh? Where did that come from? When something up close and personal hit, I could see it came from the same well of darkness that allows police officers to shoot black men or someone to open fire with an assault rifle on a crowd of demonstrators, police, party-goers or school kids. The minor attack on me came from the same bad teaching that is pitting one group of people against every other group. It came from the same bad teaching that tells people to shoot someone in a bathroom if you think they might not have the same genitals you do. Good grief.
Those who would make money and grow their own power spend millions advertising the idea that your fellow human beings are bad. The only solution to problems is guns. Plus, we must all be afraid of the disease of the day or the terrorist cell of the month.
When will the train wreck stop? When will the bodies stop piling up with no end in sight. I know some look for a divine solution where everybody they fear and hate will be incinerated, and they themselves will emerge rich and powerful. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one. Equally far-fetched is the idea that the power-elite will suddenly come to their senses, throw the masters of evil into prison and wealth and security will be restored to all. That’s not going to happen either.
Part of our problem in dealing with the derailment of our society is the same false teaching that tells us to hate the black boy crossing the street also tells us the woman working the cash register at the 7-11 doesn’t deserve a living wage. We are told to fear a virus but not the bankers. We are told to hate those people be they brown, white, native, immigrant, women, men, educated or ignorant.
With this pervasive message of fear and hate permeating our society can we ever turn off the TV and smile and wave at the person next door? Can we knock on a door and say, “I see you have a newborn. I have some things my baby outgrew. Can you use them?” It isn’t easy to reconnect with our communities because we have been taught well. I think my neighbor is afraid of going to hell if he speaks to me. The fear of hell may have been driving the woman who had a melt-down over an innocent comment I made. I think it will take us a long time to learn to trust, but if the body count is ever going to stop, we have to try to reconnect and to build communities that can function without the interference of the increasingly more powerful power elite.