God Help Us

     What is wrong with this country? With this Congress?
     Have we no sense at all?
     In Rwanda today people are resettling into their houses, learning to live with neighbors who killed their parents, their husband and children.
     People are learning to do that in Bosnia, in Serbia, Croatia and Herzegovina.
     Throughout the Middle East, opportunists and religious fanatics are slaughtering neighbors they once chatted with over the back fence, because of a religious dispute that began 1,380 years ago.
     Russians are killing Ukrainians with the blessing of the Russian state.
     Do you think it can’t happen here?
     We’ve already had one civil war. Do we need another?
     Why do so many members of Congress, after gerrymandering their safe seats, and taking billions of dollars from corporations they allow to write our laws, spend so much time stirring up hatred against half of what they presume to call their country?
     Is it worth it to do this – to stir up civil hatred – for a few more years in Congress?
     More than 51 million people today live as refugees in foul conditions, driven from their homelands by wars, most of them based on religion.
     More people live as refugees today than at any time since World War II ended.
     U.S. congressmen and senators are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. They have enormous staffs, lucrative retirement benefits, and get enormous “speaking” fees from the businesses they fail to control.
     Surely they know this is happening.
     Surely they know what can happen from stirring up religious, racial, linguistic, national and political prejudices. One hundred million deaths in the 20th century alone. More than that.
     So why do the 535 members of Congress continue to do this?
     To pad their easy cushions?
     For the momentary fame it brings them?
     People are killing one another all over the world today because of the way the killers presume their victims think.
     Yet U.S. politics has become based, more and more, upon demonizing The Other Guy because of the way We Think The Other Guy Thinks.
     Thinking has nothing to do with it.
     In the country with the most permissive gun laws of any developed nation in the world, where someone is killed or commits suicide with a gun every 15 minutes, year round, is it reasonable to claim that the president is “coming for our guns”?
     Yet for some reason, this fear-mongering claim “works.”
     Violence always has been part of the natural order and always will be.
     But the function of government in a civilized society should not be to stir up violence – and even if that is the government’s function, in wartime, against a foreign enemy, responsible governors will not foment violence against their own citizens, for light and transient reasons.
     Socrates despised democracy, if you can believe Plato. And Socrates was one of the greatest teachers in the history of the world.
     Socrates called citizens a herd. He had no faith in them, nor in his own government. Socrates’, or Plato’s, plan for a republic, was fascist, based upon the myth of a good dictator.
     I find Plato’s Republic revolting. Yet the only thing that distinguishes it from Republican dogma today, in its claims to “purity,” “god” and “truth,” is the replacement of The Party for the Benevolent Dictator, and the façade of elections.
     I’m an atheist, and a loyal American.
     God help us.

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