One of the most disturbing things about what’s going on now is how so many people are more focused on our differences than our similarities. For those of us who were part of the peace and love generation, the generation for whom equality and civil rights were not only top of mind but the way we wanted to live and during whose young lives landmark civil rights legislation was passed and feminism brought women closer to equal pay and equal opportunity…for us?
What the he….??
We can’t fathom what’s going on now. We can’t imagine speaking demeaning stereotypes out loud, applauding the building of walls both physical and psychological to keep people out and we can’t imagine believing an over-hyped, bombastic celebrity over the thinkers of our time. We look with disbelief on the way a significant number of us prefer to see our divisions than our commonalities.
Some in our nation have forgotten, it seems, that we all belong to the same group: the human race.
When I heard Harry Belafonte say that Muhammad Ali was a “credit to his race: the human race,” I knew that many Americans can see past the things that divide them. But those who don’t, simply don’t want to.
I don’t recognize this America, not at all. But maybe, frighteningly, it’s been lurking beneath the surface all along, just waiting for someone serve as a catalyst for bringing this terrible version of America into the public eye.
Pandering to the lowest aspects of human nature
The current Republican candidate has brought out the worst in some people and it is a horrifying sight. We don’t have to look too far back in world history to see some similarities to one of the most shameful periods in modern time. A terrible, terrible time in history.
And while it might seem like a stretch to compare his popularity to Hitler’s, it may not be so much of a stretch. To be sure, they lead the same cult: the cult of personality. The rhetoric we’re hearing from that side today is fascist. Post-war Germany was vulnerable because it was in poor economic health, as parts of America are today and certainly as this man’s supporters believe they are. Acceptance of those who are different and compassion are on the decline in those circles, with “us” and “them” categories, just like Germany in the 1930s, when the Jews were blamed for everything, including the soft economy.
The fantasy of an America that was “great” in some mythical “past that is no longer” rings a familiar bell, too. It’s a concept that helped Hitler gain power.
Harry Belafonte reminds us that we are all more the same than different and those are words worth hearing. Because the bell is tolling and we shouldn’t ask for whom, because we know it’s for us. All of us. The entire human race.
In ways that John Donne couldn’t have imagined.