by Joe Courter
We now have not one but two worldwide phenomena going on. One of them is the COVID-19 virus, a product of the unnatural commingling of exotic animals in an Asian market prompted by superstition-based desires to consume these critters for alleged health benefits. This yielded a nasty and stealthy viral strain that, with humans’ proclivity to move about the planet, has allowed its spread around the globe. This put into view the successes and failures of different nations in dealing with it, speaking volumes about both the effectiveness of their governments, and the level of cooperation among their citizens. The United States seems to be doing exceptionally badly at this, not only in stifling the spread of the virus, but in its level of economic assistance to its citizens.
The other worldwide phenomena was catalyzed by the video of the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd. But it was about way more than those 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This was a worldwide reaction to the centuries-long legacy of white supremacy, encompassing colonialism, imperialism and slavery. Peoples who have been dominated and exploited, who have lived with that knee on the throat of their nation’s economies, lived with the choke hold on their opportunities, and suffered the institutionalized inequities that the dominant power structure enforces as “normal”; these people are responding with massive resolve and righteous rage.
This nation is being exposed, its racist history built on expropriation of native land and the labor of enslaved people building the economic structure of capitalism, huge money coming to the super wealthy building financial empires that benefit the pet projects of those that had access to the plundered riches. It IS a truly exceptional nation. A nation that is able to deny its own history and standing in the world, though lately the United States seems to be standing with its pants down. A nation that considers empathy as a weakness, that can tolerate locking large segments of its population into poverty or massive levels of incarceration. It is a nation so blinded by self-interest and self-certitude that it has become a massive failure in combating COVID-19, a government too stingy to support citizens out of work and instead sanctioning re-opening too soon, and citizens too self-centered to wear a mask and take the science seriously as people in other nations have.
Young people especially are calling BS on the threats to their future, and the exploitative nature of a system that values profits over people. Coming at a time of increasingly authoritarian governments here and elsewhere, the days we are living now may only be foreshadowing an uprising of further conflicts regarding the meeting of human needs over human greed. And we have no idea how the effects of dealing with COVID-19 may affect our future.
We need a revolution in consciousness, and a collective joining together across the generations. Where are the elder freedom fighters who went through the Fifties with the Red Scare, the Sixties with Civil Rights and Viet Nam, or the Eighties with Reagan’s economics and bogus Central American wars? We seemed to passively watch the Nineties with the Clinton disappointments followed by the Bush selection, 9/11, endless wars and near financial collapse. 2008 gave us some “Hope and Change” with more the former than the latter (yes, thanks for acknowledging LGBTQ rights, but…?), and then November 2016 and deeper doo-doo than we ever imagined. Climate change accelerating, worldwide migration crises, a greedy man/child in the White House undoing decades of progress, and now a pandemic.
The youth are in the streets… are the rest of us ready to embrace the struggles that are coming?