The year 2013 will go down in history for bringing you all the revolutions, live, in living color and with a 24/7 replay loop on every available media outlet.
We are learning about every type of change imaginable – and some unimaginable – from cloning of the human gene, to creation of new species of plant and some animal life (bigger-breasted chickens may be the most benign of the developments), to political redirection of entire societies: Religious and ideological faultlines are being reset around the world and even here at home in the USA.
I am unsettled not by the pace and volume of the changes but by the unpreparedness of so many of our citizens, including myself, to recognize the changes, to understand the changes and to accept and adapt to the changes to our basic understanding of day-to-day policies and practices.
Here are a few cases in point.
• The “not in my back yard” syndrome that helped sustain the capture and detention of three women in a Cleveland neighborhood of close relations for more than 10 years raises the question about what we know, when we know it and when to tell (“snitch”) what we know or suspect about a neighbor.
• The hotly debated notion that the death penalty would be too harsh for a (white) woman in the Jodi Arias murder case belies the disproportionate imposition of such penalty against poor black men who are oftentimes subsequently found innocent of the charges against them.
• The new trail of tweets and Facebook comments between Trayvon Martin and his friends that is being used to attempt to mitigate his killer’s guilt. (Stop talking and putting all your business in the streets people!)
• The great comfort that we get from knowing that drones will not be used against citizens of the USA. on our soil.
The world’s affairs, as we know them, are outpacing the various news networks. Continuous breaking-news banners run below the current news being reported and whole societies change, seemingly overnight. Is there anyone out there who really understands the conflict between the northern African Muslims and the southern African Christians and traditional religious groups? What about the conflict in Afghanistan between the Taliban and all others?
Is this really about which God head to worship? Or is it about some things less holy? Is the Bible story of God’s promise to the Hebrews the final dictate for enforcing the independent national policies of Israel or are we all misinformed and continue the delusion by sticking to that premise?
What to do?
I have found that the nature of human beings remains unchanged from our beginning. We continue, from time to time, to experience occasional bouts and/or the full range of “PAGGLES” — pride, anger, greed, gluttony, lust, envy and sloth — a perfect acronym for just being, well, human.
A perfect storm brews when some combination of those characteristics is in play. Who knows how many are required before the explosions take place, for example, the Boston Marathon bombing, a brother stabbing and killing his sister, a police stop gone south, the machete massacre of a soldier on the streets of
London, whole villages slaughtered in Syria, etc.
I am sometimes maddened by the sheer volume of such insane behavior and then I have to stop and re-evaluate what, how, and how many are actually taking place.
I have to realize that, because human nature has remained unchanged over millennia, the major difference now is that the news is instantly communicated and our weapons are more sophisticated (Cain killed Abel with a stone/stick?). It feels like there are more or even worsening events.
But are we to be content to accept that, in general, the human species remains bestial, while a small portion strives to live by lofty ideals and goals, to become more like “angels”?
I really don’t have any specific answers, except I know for sure that it feels good to think that we are doing better, by ourselves and on behalf of our fellow human beings, when we continue to evolve through the adoption and application of just laws and policies and to encourage the practices that counteract our basic human nature, that we continue to shape an entire world that is hospitable to human existence.
You can be part of the revolution toward higher evolution. Turn off the television and talk to your neighbor. Get involved with your local political system. Arm yourself with knowledge. Learn more about how we are all connected. Google or similar search engines are a good starting place. Know and care more.
What else is left? To roam again with the beasts of the world? But even the most
vicious of those beasts have evolved and adopted behavior patterns that are designed to preserve their species.
So what about us?
*Antonia Williams-Gary may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org