Stop Playing in the Traffic, My Friend
By Jane Tawel
July 23, 2020
I have an acquaintance who is all worked-up about America becoming Communist. I just don’t have enough hair left on my head to keep pulling it out trying to explain things to some people, but remaining silent is also not always an option for me, at least at a first go. I do not engage in fruitless argument, but neither will I engage in the mock-niceness of not saying anything. Not saying something to people is not only not nice, it is unkind. If people want to go out and play in the traffic, I at least have the responsibility as someone who has learned that playing in traffic is not only wrong-headed but dangerous to try to convince them they aren’t seeing things the right way. I have to at least try to be ethical and to warn them and tell them: “Hey, you know you don’t have to play in the traffic, you can play right here in my safe backyard with me. C’mon in”. I can’t force them to change their minds, but I also can not be silent while they play a game of chicken with speeding semitrucks. And no this is not about things that are truly open to one’s own opinion. For more on that you can see my post of July 6, 2020 (janetawel.com/2020/07/06/unapologetically-thoughtful-woman-seeks-thinking-humans/)
So, back to the person who lives in fear that the people who are protesting throughout America today are “commies”, and that all of the people who want real change in this country are “socialists” (a term some people erroneously associate with synonyms for “thieves” or God help us, with that frightening term “French People”) (and let’s just pause here for a moment of silence to let this settle in: this man and others are upset only about the Black Lives Matter protests – about the way Black People protest or the way we are protesting as white people for the long disenfranchised people in America. In the name of Saint Colin Kaepernick, isn’t it as clear as Black and White by now folks what the real issues are?!?!) This person and tragically too many like him actually believe that the federal government of America is right to send camouflaged troops into cities to protect property rather than allowing local governments to decide how to protect peacefully lawfully protesting people. I mean, can we get this straight – some people are still more upset about property destruction as a bad side effect of good people protesting long after they have forgotten what the protests are about – people!)
And when my friend brings up the cold, cold-war corpse of Communism as a specter, he is right (but oh so wrong because he doesn’t see it)– right in that it is always the abuse of power by those who lead that corrupt a system of government and thereby decay the moral integrity of the very foundations of a nation. This is absolutely true today, if we look only at nations and governments in which the philosophy of communism fell to the greed and power-mongering of the entitled, and this is true no matter what they may claim their governing philosophy is today. Of course, as Orwell predicted, our founding philosophy of American Democracy and the ideology of a “republic for all” has fallen just as low, if not lower than that of the original intent of Marx’ and Engel’s ideology. This is what we should be looking at – not where we might be headed as we change, but where we have sunk as we have changed.
And can we just actually look around at our nation with open eyes and ask, “is this really what we want to believe in?”. It may be what we “want” since we can be as self-centered and greedy as the next person, but is it what we want to believe in? Are we willing to follow along with the folks that have drunk the kool-aide and let ourselves think that a little more “communal-ism” would even be the worst thing that could happen to our self-centered nation?
(I refer you to a commercial break here so you can listen to that great prophet, Bob Dylan and one of his many protest songs: “Gotta Serve Somebody” https://youtu.be/wC10VWDTzmU )
People who think this way about what they fear happening in America don’t understand either America’s true system of current leadership which I would describe as “Oligarchical Unethical-Uber-Capitalism”; nor do they understand very much about the theory of Communism as a governing ideal rather than the way Communism has come to be used by history’s dictators and shysters.
So when this acquaintance of mine, who happens to claim Christianity as his religion, posted a scary meme about America becoming Communist, I responded thusly. (For those of you that don’t know much about Christianity, the cult of Jesus Christ was originally the most philosophically “Communist” religion since Abraham gave Lot the first choice in land ownership. It still has elements of the ideals of communism that can be found in many communities that practice Christianity including nuns, monks, the Amish, and the Bruderhoff communities.)
I told my friend, that in fact he was right – America’s Federal Government is behaving like a Cold-War-ish Communist regime, in a frightening way, perhaps not seen on a federal level since the civil rights movements of the 1960’s or the student riots which caused Neil Young to pen the words to the song “Ohio” in 1970 (https://youtu.be/xy7FgTKPaMc) . Change a few words and names in Young’s song, and we horrifically, sadly seem to be right back in those days of the American Federal Government abusing its power against its own peacefully protesting citizens. So, to my friend’s fallacious argument meme, this is what I said:
Why yes, my friend — the fact that you see freedom of speech as vandalism is exactly the point of propaganda such as regimes like Communism and Fascism have used in the past. Or Nixon’s “bums” at Kent State. Or Hitler’s Jewish enemies of the state that led to the Holocaust. It is called propaganda for a reason and the reason is to persuade people that lies are truth and truth is a lie and to create an alter-enemy narrative so that the people in charge can divert your attention away from the problems they are supposed to help solve. Read your Orwell. Read your history. Read news accounts of what is actually happening — your government employees lining their pockets by abusing their power (golf tournament in Scotland anyone? So worthy of a petty, greedy strongman like a Stalin or a Putin.) Your federal government acting against its own citizens let alone against immigrants and sojourners. Things allowed to happen because someone was “elected”, even though it is unconstitutional, breaking the laws and the rule of law of the Constitution, tear gassing innocent people, not “vandals”. Oh, you are quite correct — that is all something that communist countries do (see China vs. Hong Kong) or dictators (see history of Tienanmen Square, Arab Spring, just for a few in our lifetimes). Caring more about their economy numbers than the health of their citizens is indeed so worthy of a communist dictator — you could not be more right on this, if you are pointing the finger at our current federal government. And please, if those points of true history or current events don’t convince you, read the Bible for it’s great and God-origin calls to justice and sharing and equality and freedom and love — and then just picture Jesus (who was frankly nothing at all like an American capitalist) — imagine the Guy who people want to claim as their Savior, turning over the tables of the politically sponsored religious money making businesses, while he was being teargassed and hit with rubber bullets by Caesar’s camouflaged men while the religious leaders washed their dirty hands of it rather than washing the protesters’ and sinners’ dirty feet.
For me, a person who has long tried to figure out what that figure of Jesus Christ is supposed to mean to my very own life, has there ever been a better time in my own country – in my own community – in my own family – in my own soul– to serve and love others as He did? Do I, as Jesus did, fear G-d enough to stop fearing Caesar? As Martin Luther King and John Lewis did?
And even if you don’t believe in any god at all – is your life not worth more than letting your fears define you? Don’t you want to be defined by what you believe IN, not what you fear is OUT there?
So, I told this friend of mine, and I say it to us all:
Be careful what you are allowing yourself to fear because it will end up being what you are left to serve.
Honestly, I have never liked talking about politics. I don’t have a desire to spend my remaining time on earth to write about them or even think about all this stuff. After learning and thinking about all the issues currently swirling around in America today, I feel like I have just willingly put myself in the eye of a storm much too big for little ole’ me and I am watching the pressing needs and problems swirl around like a million Amazon packages in a Wicked Witch’s Tornado.
But I must. If I am forced to run into the oncoming traffic only because it might save somebody else, then run into the speeding cars I must. It is my time. It is The Time. As that great sage and prophet, J.R.R. Tolkien said in The Fellowship of the Ring: We must decide what we are called to do with the time we are given.