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The Sad State of Today’s World



“A world without trust…”

I am the first to admit that I have done a lot of stupid things in my life. So as you read this essay, you must know that the author himself often did many of these things, and consequently was targeted by others like him. Stupidity breeds itself, and comes back to haunt you. But also let me describe myself.

I was born and raised where stupidity flourishes, in the streets of the inner city; as a broken nose and a broken wrist testify. My father grew up even harder then I did, selling papers in the street at six; a fatherless boy, that was raised by an older brother. Is it any wonder that every other word out of his mouth was a cuss word ... F--- this; F--- that; and that his son could out cuss a sailor by the time he was eight! Once a habit like that is made, it stays with you all your life. So I was no stranger to brawls or the hard knocks that accompany them. But I was saved by my mother; and her hard slaps ... right in the kisser.

Today, I guess you would say my mother was an abuser, but today they don’t have to put up with kids like us! My street was a battleground, and I was constantly fighting some bully%. And, I always had an explosive temper, which, quickly, blew itself out. I guess you could describe me as the Billy Budd type * , that quiet, handsome (perhaps, that doesn't quite pertain to me!), young sailor, Melville described, who, when betrayed, could only do one thing … strike out! That was me... do something spiteful or deceitful, and I attacked and settled it... then and there! But, old Billy Budd found that this could spell doom, as I did. It’s not the best thing to antagonize spiteful people! Later, I made it my way to try to teach through example; when people were discourteous or disrespectful, I tried to show them how it felt. This was stupidity in action! People like that, don’t learn that way; they just use your actions to get back at you! Especially today, with video cameras everywhere, so that they can take your actions out of context, and make you into a villain. So, I guess, I earned my hard knocks, by being so stupid. But then, that is what is a prime misconception that people in the inner city share … that retribution is the proper response to a wrong! As Confucius knew: “The superior man blames himself; the inferior man blames others”. 1

Again, we can learn from the trials and tribulations of the first true Democracy, Rome. When Hannibal’s plutocratic army of stealth and deceit threatened her, she enlisted a Consul, Marcus Marcellus, who was the only Roman commander not afraid to face Hannibal head on. Time and again, Marcellus drew up his army, and challenged Hannibal to open combat; Hannibal always withdrew; he knew he was no match for this brave patriot. Finally, not able to stand up to Marcellus openly, he hired a band of assassins to murder this valiant soldier; this was Hannibal’s specialty, attack from behind. But finally, the young Scipio, whose family had been killed by these thugs, lured Hannibal to Africa, threatening an attack on the city of Carthage. Hannibal was now forced to fight openly, and fell to this young warrior, who showed him that stealth and deceit were no match for merit and true patriotic zeal. The defeat at Zama, led the way to the total destruction of this plutocracy that thought that money could buy anything. The irony is that America has become the new Carthage; a failing Democracy, that again, has fallen to the idea that money can overcome everything.

But in my own case, living in the inner city, I did not have the benefit of history to guide me, but I did have my mother, to teach me, in her rough way, that there are other things in life.

I often marvel at how this woman, who had only a grade school education, could have understood the world so well; how she could have raised me amidst the bedlam of the inner city, yet fostered in me ideals that were so foreign to this setting. She was truly the she-wolf, guarding her young, and still teaching me that there was more to life then all this. She spoke and read two languages fluently, and even without a hint of accent; and she read incessantly. But true knowledge, for her, always came back to what you felt in your heart. She forced me into nothing, and let me choose my way in life, as much as other factors like my health allowed.

But most of all, my mother taught me love. Oh she was hard, and vicious at times; after all, life was hard, living on a few thousand dollars a year, but I knew that after a beating, when she threw her arms around me, that she truly loved me; and I never forgot that! She taught me to feel what others felt, and to respect that; like Caesar did with his soldiers, who loved him, and fought for him to the end. She could dispense discipline, but she could also make me realize just how much she loved me. That is why, after all the vicious ways that people show themselves to be less than human today, I still can see that there is still hope for humanity. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that we have let ourselves fall so low.

I can’t stand to watch TV anymore; just listening to the news makes me just want to turn off all the gadgets and junk we’ve immersed ourselves in, and go into seclusion in my little house; and forget that the world was once populated by a promising species that termed itself "human"! What happened to that humanity? As low as it was in my day, we still knew some honor, and felt trust in each other.

Everywhere, one group or another has setout to protest something. Illegal aliens are protesting that they do not have the right to break our laws with impunity; the right for life people are out in the streets protesting abortions, and then, killing medical personnel and blowing up abortion clinics to show how much they value human life; or, IRA bombers, thinking retribution is equivalent with religion; the Pope, going out to see his flock, amid armed guards and security intelligence, just as the “leaders” and “ex-leaders” of the world spend their taxpayers money to protect themselves from their own constituents with secret police and hired mercenaries. Even ordinary people are unable to travel late at night through parts of their own city, for being afraid they’ll be robbed, attacked or murdered; and major cities have become slaughter houses, because of gang violence and drug addiction. Urban decay is everywhere we go. Neighbors are totally oblivious of their neighbors; neighbors are even spying on neighbors; stores spying on their customers; and journalist are spilling state secrets that shouldn’t exist in the first place! Then there are the hugh government deficits for intelligence and spy agencies, surveillance equipment and satellites, for spying not only on other countries, but on their own citizens; and volunteer armies, fighting wars that their citizens don’t believe in; a populace, that won’t even make up its own armies, because it doesn’t have the courage to fight for its own convictions. And how about the Federal agents harassing travelers, and even strip searching them with x-rays. This is what comes about, when freedom no longer includes ALL, but only those that can buy it. This is what happens when religions no longer see all people as the same, and create a God that picks and chooses, who He will love. Then there are the kids, brought up, not to create innovation, but to BUY the innovation of others, and make their living off of it.

Then there are the middle men living off of the services and products of others, even wedging themselves between an employer and his employee; invading even the Doctor-Patient relationship; the result: skyrocketing prices, large groups of unemployed and unemployable, and even people homeless and without health care benefits. And, needed resources are being leveraged, through private ownership, into tools to blackmail society, and pay off crooked government officials to allow them to do it; a society, where business has become racketeering, sanctioned by law.

Then there is a distribution system that has been retained to keep an elite in power, and a huge slave population available to do its bidding. A greedy population, so concerned with their own interests that they can’t see that this is slavery, and that they are a class of slaves indentured by their own greed. So, in supposedly, banning slavery, outwardly, we have instead, instituted poverty to take its place!

So where has humanity gone?

Where is that humane benevolence that even the ancient Chinese sages, and the samurai warriors, realized some three thousand years before our time? That dignity and respect for duty to self and others that they knew of even before the birth of the Christ?

How have we fallen so low? How have we fallen to the distortions and falseness of a house built on sand? How can every Church, and Minister, and Priest continue to spout the Golden Rule, yet not even have the foggiest idea of what it is all about?

This is the major problem we have: we have become a society unable to answer the most important questions that life asks us; we have become a society with too much knowledge, and no place to use it. We have lost ourselves so thoroughly in the superficial acts of living, we cannot answer the questions our own psyches continually plague us with. We have become a race of schizophrenics, out of touch with ourselves, and tortured by a subconscious world that is tearing us to pieces, by asking us questions our greed can’t answer, but our hearts are too empty to even try to answer. We have become an insane world, that doesn’t learn, and is tortured everyday by the growing number of victims we create exponentially, while spouting dogma that is trash, and platitudes that we can’t understand.

We have lost our unity to the hope of making it big; and when we make it big, we find ourselves empty, because we are barricaded inside ourselves; alone, confused, distraught, and scared of the very world that subsidized us. We have created a world that is an asylum that houses the walking dead; people without hearts, not because they don’t have them, but, because they can’t stand to listen to them! We have lost the joy of living, because we cannot tear ourselves away from ourselves; because we have lost the value of a smile; the sorrow that makes us happy to be alive; that same humanity that makes us different than any other creature on earth; that fellowship, that makes us all the same.

We have buried ourselves in secrets, because we can’t bear the awful truth of modern life: we cannot bear what we have defined ourselves to be!

The truth is: we define ourselves with as much meaning as we care to; but we have not bothered to do it!

We are empty because we have let the world define us, instead of taking charge of ourselves, and creating a definition that will allow us to live the best life possible for ALL. We created society to protect us in its unity, as our motto: “e pluribus unum” states, but instead, we have let ourselves and our desires divide us, and create a society based on division. We have replaced the trust love builds, with the distrust the self lives in. Until we can cure the psychosis that divides us from ourselves we cannot cure the psychosis that divides our society. Until we take control of the desires we hold that keep us from being human, we cannot keep society from splintering itself into all the factions that see no one else’s side but their own. Even God cannot help us, because we have even defined Him as the God of division, instead of the God of unity.

God help us, from the God we have created that keeps us from being human!

So how can we start to be human again?

We can start by realizing that if we live only for ourselves we will end up in exactly the state we are now in. We must begin to see that we are not a bunch of different groups divided, but one group that must learn that we are all the same. We must see that continuing to cause poverty and misery through a parasitical system that pits us against each other, and pretends to be benevolent through Charity, is a hypocrisy that disguises greed and selfish motives as something to strive for. We must see that this is exactly what society is not! We are a society, not to fight against each other, but to reap the benefits that the unity and brotherhood of society brings ALL of us. We cannot trust each other, as long as we see each other as competitors buying our prosperity at the expense of someone else’s.

But most of all, we must look into ourselves, and see that within us, we have the unique capacity to feel what others feel; to understand the agony and ecstasy of being human; to know that we all share each other, because life is hard for all, and that our lives are not separated from each other, but joined by our common humanness. But, most of all, we must understand that love is not, and can never contain judgment. We must see that right and wrong reside within the human heart, not within society. We have built society to allow us to live together through law, order and shared duties; to control our behavior to each other; but we look to our hearts to reconcile our actions. Our hearts create the unity that keeps the schizophrenia of greed under control, and allows us to redefine ourselves as the same kind of human being everyone else is, at their very core.

We must also discard belief systems that keep humans apart. Otherwise, we will find a God for every group in this world, and none of them the same. We must also see that God can only mean one thing to every human that has or ever will live: unity and benevolence; not division and discord.

Finally, having cured the psychosis within ourselves, we can create and redefine our societies in a way that they will mimic the unity we find within ourselves. For any system that keeps us at odds with each other; that divides us into winners and losers, is a contradiction to our own human condition. We are societies that define themselves, and all the behaviors they perform, none of which is inevitable. What is inevitable, is the fact that we are the masters of our own fates. We can, and have changed that fate; so there is no reason we cannot continue to define it, as a fate we ALL share, equally. We have been put on this earth to struggle and die; but not with each other; or, to cause each other’s deaths. We are one human race, no matter how different, we may be packaged. We can either emphasize the differences, and perish in them, or emphasize the sameness, and grow. We are an organism that has unlimited potential to grow, but it can only be realized, when we realize our sameness!




FOOTNOTES

To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left



% Let me clarify one thing here though, before people begin to think I was some kind of "thug". The kids of my childhood days were not thugs, like they are today! They didn't carry knives or guns; or try to hurt, maim and kill, like the inner city kids and gangs do today. We fought with our fists; to defend ourselves from bullies, who thought they could push quiet kids, like I was, around. There was poverty; but not the drugs, and wanton disrespect for authority there is today. Our parents were largely working class people, who served their country in World War Two, and had respect for their country and their town. They ruled by the rod, because that was the rule of order in those days. Perhaps, that was abuse; but everybody did it. Unfortunately, today, people have taken on the other extreme, where they indulge their kids too much (especially, kids from the prosperous suburbs); or, on the other hand, merely don't care about them at all (the result of the inner city Ghettos of today). Either way, it has turned the inner city kids (and also many suburban kids) of today into criminals, drug addicts or worse, because that's what happens, when childern don't feel that anyone cares about them at all.

Also, I, and most of my peers of those days, never broke the law, or got into trouble with the police, like they do today. Our parents had great respect for the law, regardless of how the Hollywood moguls today try to depict the Italian people of my generation, as being all hoodlums and gangsters. Hollywood has perpetrated a great slanderous hoax about the Italian people of my day, with all those movies, with their non-Italian actors, trying to depict Italians as criminals and gangsters. Sure there were a few "hoods", as there are in every neighborhood, but they were very few, back then, even in the adjoining neighborhoods where their bosses were supposed to live.

And, the Italians have proved all of this, because most of them have moved out of those Ghettos, where I lived as a child, and made their way into the more prosperous suburbs.



* "Billy Budd", by Herman Melville. This is the story of a sailor who is a sort of simple innocent primitive; he knows no deceit or stealth. When confronted by it, he does what is natural to him; he strikes out in defense. Unfortunately his striking out, kills his antagonist, and causes him to be sacrificed. Was Billy right or wrong? (see the essay "Right and Wrong") Here we see the heartbreaking decision his superiors must make to judge this man, not as to right or wrong, but as to the military law, which is apart from morality. Makes one think of the story of how Caesar quelled a mutiny of angry soldiers with a single word, he called his soldiers "citizens" (Querites), instead of soldiers, thus pointing out the difference between the duties and obligations of each. A soldier's duty is to obey unto death; while a citizen's duty is to complain. Needless to say, such a commander knew his soldiers' minds and hearts, and earned their loyalty. How many of our so-called "leaders" today, would be so circumspect and brave?



1 Confucius was an ancient Chinese sage, moralist and wise man, who wrote during the period of 500-600 BC. His age was one of confusion, unrest and war, similar to our own.







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Originally Published:

June 19, 2015

Revised:

July 6, 2015