Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is. : ThyBlackMan

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is.

October 8, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(“We are not living in an era of changes,

but a change of eras.” Pope Francis

It’s been one year since the worst mass shooting in modern American history in Las Vegas.  Incidentally, the word “modern” was intentionally inserted so as not to have to recount earlier massacres of African Americans like in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 or Native Americans at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1891.  But I digress…

I don’t know what’s worse, that the authorities know the shooter’s motive and don’t want to reveal it, or that he killed 58 people for no apparent reason at all.  And there’s been no movement in the halls of congress to curb gun violence:  No ban on assault weapons, no enhanced background checks, nothing. Bump stocks, the device that enabled the slaughter, are still legal.  If anything, we seem to have become numb to the carnage happening all around us.

So far, there have been 273 mass shootings this year – defined as four or more persons shot or killed in the same general time and location.  According to the group Every Town for Gun Safety, there have been 42 school shootings, including the Valentine’s Day killings at the high school in Parkland, Florida.  Homicides in cities across the country – Chicago (487), Philadelphia (253), Washington, D.C. (121) – continue unabated.

Added to this grim picture are over 32,000 suicides and 72,000 drug overdoses last year.  Imagine, more overdose deaths in a single year than all of our soldiers killed in Viet Nam.  What’s going on?  What is driving this crisis in our culture causing record numbers of Americans to kill each other and themselves?

Academicians and the media have long studied and reported on various “pathologies” in the black community but this is taking place in the wider American culture and no one has yet to diagnose the reasons for the depth of the toxicity in American life.

Pope Francis may have put his finger on a major dynamic for the dysfunction.  The 1960s was an era of changes.  Civil rights, women’s rights and the anti-war movement all took place within the same underlying fundamentals of everyday life.  America was still in the industrial age and demographers had yet to forecast a “majority minority” country.  The two party system dominated politics and while fringe candidates like George Wallace generated attention, they never came close to capturing the nomination of one of the major parties, let alone the presidency.

We are now in a change of eras.  The economy has shifted to such an extent that entire industries have disappeared – remember Kodak and Polaroid film – and new ones have emerged.  Manufacturing, that powered the previous age, has been supplanted by an economy dominated by service and technology jobs.  A Bachelor’s degree has replaced the high school diploma as the entry level academic credential for a well-paying job.  More people now work with their heads than their hands.

Our politics has turned inside out.  The once Democratic South is now solidly Republican and more college-educated “elites” in cities and suburbs identify as Independents or Democrats than as Republicans; their former party of choice.  Most disturbing to the dominant culture is the rise of formerly marginalized people, epitomized by an African American family in the White House.  And China, not some country in Europe, is now the world’s second largest economy and is projected to surpass America by mid-century.

For people with a zero-sum worldview – other people can only gain at their expense – the new era is profoundly disturbing.  A politics of grievance has replaced a politics of optimism that once led Americans to believe we could do anything, solve any challenge.  Institutions that shaped our value systems have been exposed as hypocritical at best, and utterly corrupt at worst.  Into this mix have come leaders – false prophets – scapegoating “others” as the cause of our problems and offering simple solutions to complex problems.  The emergence of this new class of unprincipled “win at any cost” leadership is perhaps most worrisome of all.

The death of an empire can always be traced to a decline in the quality of its leadership.  Along with the replacement of virtue with vice.  The dawn of a new era is confusing as the standards and values of the old order are questioned and discarded before the new “rules of the road” have had an opportunity to become firmly established.  The “anything goes” nature of this time in transition is what, in large part, leads to the tenor of the times today.

While we should embrace the “new” we can’t completely abandon the best parts of our past.  The pragmatic optimism that drove our country to send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth for example.  Some truths are eternal.  It has been said that “times change but people don’t.”  We’ll see…

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell

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