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Meditations

Restoring the Soul of America Is Secondary
By Martin LeFevre
Apr 17, 2021, 10:30am

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In the past month, since the beginning of a "return to normalcy" in America, there have been 53 mass shootings. Pause for a moment and let that number sink in. Fifty-three. Nearly two a day.

That latest that made the news erupted Thursday night in Indianapolis, where a 19-year-old former Fed-Ex employee opened fire with (of course) an assault rifle, slaughtering eight people before putting himself out of his misery.

Before it became the safely secularized "Build Back Better," President Biden's campaign slogan initially was the vaguely spiritual dictum, "Restoring the Soul of America."

A return to the normalcy of America's soul-crushing slaughters gives a lie to Biden's refrain, "We are Americans; we are better than this." Not to mention the murder-by-cop of black boys and young men by white or wannabe white cops.

Trying to return to the past always makes the future worse. Besides, the relevance of America to the human prospect is not as we were - the flawed beacon of democracy and human rights in a bygone international order. The context is global now, since the ecological and spiritual crisis of humankind has rendered nation-states about as relevant as city-states.

Yet, even during this global pandemic, the tribalism of nationalism continues to rule the modern mind. So the idea that American exceptionalism and international supremacy can be restored along with this nation's tattered soul is worse than wishful thinking. It's a prescription for war with (take your pick) Iran, North Korea, Russia or China.

When a people lose their soul, as Americans did nearly 30 years ago, they can recover it, but only after fully acknowledging and mourning its loss. The most dangerous thing about the Biden breather is we take it for more than that, and assume there has been a return to decency and fairness, to the degree they existed before Trump and his 'base' of 40 per centers exposed the truth that the mouthpieces of the mainstream media still refuse to face.

Americans pride themselves on being paragons of freedom, but that has about as much meaning as a big BBQ. As these mass murders and murders of young blacks by cops attest, we live in fear of each other, often seething with unseen hatred that erupts again and again in personal or racist violence.

The January 6th attack on the Capitol was not a unique 'insurrection,' or even a Proud Boys orchestrated act of 'domestic terrorism,' but a political expression of America's pre-Covid epidemic of violence.

As far as the cops go, we ask too much of the police, while the police ask too little of themselves. Like elementary school teachers, becoming a police officer attracts both the best and the worst types from the culture at large.

It's no coincidence that the militarization of the police has coincided with the mayhem America generated in Iraq, and the misguided misadventure in Afghanistan. Barack Obama threw away the tremendous moral capital he had as America's first black president when he doubled down in Afghanistan a year after assuming office.

Given that Biden was then Vice-president, and voted for the monumental war crime of the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq, it really rankles that he has now set September 11th as the deadline for withdrawing the last American troops out of Afghanistan. Pull them out if you want to Joe, but don't remind us of the failed policy that has killed untold hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The deaths from America's evil wars over the last 20 years mirror the violence Americans perpetrate upon each other every day within the United States. These deaths, as much as the deaths of innocents killed in the weekly slaughters, stain America's soul. These deaths, like the plethora of entertainment crime shows pornographically depicting acts of murder and rape, attest to the truth that America is a nation that long ago lost its soul.

Joe Biden is a decent man, one that has endured more than his fair share of personal suffering. He's been doing a workmanlike job so far as president. But a lot more of us will have to go a lot deeper to "recover the soul of America."

And that's providing enough of us can think and feel first in terms of humanity, rather than 'my country.'


Pls watch the 4-minute video:
https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/

******

Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. lefevremartin77@gmail.com


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