Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
November 22, 2016 marks the 53rd anniversary of the tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy here in Dallas. The day and the events still haunt me, although I find it no more horrific than the almost weekly shootings of police officers. Reflecting on JFK's assassination and the seemingly endless, senseless killings, I stop and reflect and I find hope and wisdom in the words of John F. Kennedy. I believe he was the last world leader who truly understood the importance of, and the power of, the individual.
Donald Trump has been our president-elect for only two weeks, and already we are told to look at the bright side. Find the silver linings. Figure out a way to time-travel to 2020. Remember that love prevails. We need to stop deluding ourselves. There is no bright side. There are no silver linings. It is 2016, Donald Trump will be our president, and there was never any love to begin with. We are inclined, in times of crisis, to escape.
The issue of poverty is rarely brought up willingly by politicians. In speech after speech, they make constant appeals to "the middle class," whether by promising to cut taxes, bring back jobs or any of a number of different promises. In fact, listening to most politicians, you might think that being a member of "the middle class" is as bad as it gets in the US. Unfortunately, the situation is much bleaker than that.
Regardless of our political persuasions, we all make a personal review of what we are thankful. Not having very little or less than last year or less than your parents would, of course, be a cue to talk politics. We are now more politically watchful in the same way Freud suggested that childhood no longer fades into a mostly forgotten memory for those repeatedly drawn back to it, perhaps, by the latent power of a single event. Curious and curiouser has been the capacity of the American mass psyche to remain disinterested in politics, almost oblivious to it when historical memory shows us that elective representative democracies are fragile -- about as fragile as those conditions making the Earth habitable for humans.
Donald Trump knows perfectly well why his coastal golf course in County Clare, Ireland, is under siege by rising sea levels. Perhaps "walls" were on his mind when he spoke about the border of Mexico because he was forced to build a protective wall around his Ireland golf resort before it slowly slips out to sea, golf balls and millions of dollars with it. In the end, no wall will save it from catastrophic weather disasters that are the consequential effects of climate disruption.
In the 1980s, the second wave of the US anti-apartheid movement -- focused then on South Africa -- was at a boil. In those days, "Doonesbury" had a prescient sequence satirizing the "activists" immersed in their computers. Times have changed. Many of us now mostly dwell in the computer-domesticated indoors, generating or responding to email and chasing links. Online is now our comfort zone. Maybe too comfortable.
People were literally crying in the corridors of the recent UN Climate Summit in Morocco when they heard the results of the US presidential election. There are many wild things Donald Trump has said he would do, that technically or constitutionally are not possible, but the one thing he can do is 'trump' the climate talks. He can even withdraw from the Paris Agreement, although in practice, it would take him four years to do so. This might not even be the worst-case scenario for the climate negotiations, as other conventions like the Convention on Biodiversity have fared quite well without US participation.
The slaughter in Syria, with its terrible consequences in that country, the region and worldwide, demands urgent action to end the horrific human suffering. Unfortunately, some well-intentioned, concerned people advocate ratcheting up US military engagement, which could lead to more death, destruction and suffering, not less. There are several reasoned refutations of supposed humanitarian intervention proposals, such as a no-fly zone, safe zones and humanitarian zones. In the wake of the election and President-elect Donald Trump's appeals to xenophobia, racism, misogyny and fear, no-fly, safe and humanitarian zones do have applicability, but in the United States, not Syria.
On October 9, I was in the Nevada desert with Catholic Workers from around the world for an action of prayer and nonviolent resistance at what is now called the Nevada National Security Site, the test site where between 1951 and 1992, nine hundred and twenty-eight documented atmospheric and underground nuclear tests occurred. Since the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the apparent end of the Cold War, The National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA, has maintained the site, circumventing the intent of the treaty with a stated "mission to maintain the stockpile without explosive underground nuclear testing."
Like many Americans, I was left with a heavy heart after the election. While the outcome was shocking, much of the heaviness came from observing the whole election cycle. The outcome was just the icing on the cake of the most irrational presidential race in recent history. This election convinced me that we need to focus our efforts on dealing with the worst problem in US politics -- irrationality. Rationality refers to the ability to assess reality accurately and thereby make wise decisions to reach one's goals.