(Part I of II)
“LIFE is much more important than the making of dollars. It should be about passion for doing production about people and its relations to everybody else, where there is respect in the society amongst nationalities, amongst American people, [for] we are America. We are to be completed, to be moved, and to have a sense of pride and gratification by whatever has been told on film [about us].” – Linda Mabalot, in an interview with Arthur Dong, 1990
“A politician who brings personal integrity into leadership helps us reclaim the popular trust that distinguishes true democracy from its cheap imitations. The divided life may be endemic, but wholeness is always a choice. Once I have seen my dividedness, do I continue to live a contradiction—or do I try to bring my inner and outer worlds back into harmony?” – Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness, 2004.
I would like to believe America is in transition — on its way to resolving its internal contradictions, on its way to becoming whole again. It may be naiveté, but I truly believe America will manifest a circle of love in the plurality of interactions. That we are simply in the process of integrating America’s population of 325,642,556 in 50 states, according to Worldometers.
Meltdown to renewal
In 2008, “Taken together, losses total a staggering $8.3 trillion. Since peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth is down $14 trillion, unemployment at 10 percent.”
Foreclosures of homes in the millions occurred. Banks who presided over foreclosures got richer. Communities with foreclosed homes became ghost towns. Banks and corporations amassed cash worth $6 trillion and kept it in reserves, with no loans made from 2008-2011.
After eight years of smart policies from 2009 to 2016 by the 44th U.S. president, regenerating new alternative sources of energies and manufacturing, the US Dept. of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that 20 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 3.5 percent increase in the GDP.
In Sept. 2016, “Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the third quarter of 2016. Real GDP by state growth ranged from 7.1 percent in South Dakota to –0.1 percent in New Mexico. Finance and insurance grew 9 percent, wholesale trade grew by 8.3 percent, and information grew by 8.6 percent. These were the leading contributors to U.S. economic growth in the third quarter of 2016.”
The American economy was nominally worth $18.56 trillion in Sept. 2016.
Yet, this economic revival did not translate into an overall feeling of upliftment and national happiness amongst voters who were fed news about ISIS killings, murders of young black men, and false news spun around.
The New York Times’ Scott Shane, on January 18, reported on Cameron Harris who created fake news to falsely report “file boxes” as premarked ballots for Hillary Clinton. Cameron admitted he used the income he generated for student loans, rent and living expenses. His lack of personal integrity to create fake news may have affected how voters saw the candidates.
Did voters buy into the anger and discontent of white citizens, mostly coming from the core of the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, who saw their industries disappear: lumber, coal mining, and with them, the manufacturing jobs with little or none to replace them?
But also, predominantly white voters of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Kansas, voted for Trump such that “starting Wednesday [Nov. 9 2016], you could walk from the Vermont border through Appalachian coal country to the outskirts of St. Louis without crossing a county Mr. Trump did not win decisively. You could head south through rural and suburban Georgia all the way to South Florida, or northwest through the Upper Midwest, or make a beeline for the West Coast, skirting only the rising Democratic communities of Colorado and the booming multicultural sprawl of Las Vegas before finally reaching Mrs. Clinton’s part of the country,” Nicholas Confessore and Nate Cohn of the NYTimes reported.
Now, we ask, has our collective anger subsided that we can hear now and rebuild a divided nation into one?
“God gave us two ears and only one tongue,” Bishop Oscar Solis said in a recent television interview. He paused, allowing the Utah-based journalist to interject his thoughts.
After, Bishop Solis responded that God must want us to listen to each other, giving us two ears, in order to find our commonalities, in spite of our differences.
How many times have we affirmed one another? Or do we ride our high horse to simply say, “That is not the point,” to justify disruption is more important than to listen?
Or do we impose our interpretations of events, imposing discipline on another for what we perceive, instead of owning our feelings for our issues?
“The Talmud says that anyone who does anything in anger, it’s as if they’re worshiping idols. What that basically means is, when you’re angry, you can’t see straight. Now is the time, the opportunity, to hold all our elected officials responsible for everything,” Sharon, an Oprah panelist pointed out.
Oprah, in her magazine article, “What I Know for Sure,” (March 2017) acknowledged how she misses her show since she said goodbye in 2011. That show gave her a barometer of how women felt.
“They talked. I listened. I talked. They listened. We shared a goal: to hear one another. I’ve been saying this forever (it’s the greatest lesson I learned from more than 37,000 one-on-one interviews), there is a common denominator in the human experience. We all want to be heard. We all want to know that what we’re saying and feeling matters. Yes, there is now a serious divide in our country. A lot of folks don’t want to value whoever is the ‘other.’ It truly doesn’t have to be that way. Our differences enrich the human mix. And we all should be open to embracing the chance for more interaction, for conversations that both challenge and affirm the way we see each other.”
As one journalist wrote, “Circulate, not accumulate.”
I modify it a bit: circulate, connect and accumulate experiences with another. Understand a fellow human being. What is Seder? Have you participated in this Jewish festive holiday meal, a celebration of the Jews’ passage from slavery to freedom?
How about Diwali? Have you joined this festival of lights, a November tradition amongst Hindus?
Have you visited the Manzanar National Historic Site to know that this is one of the sites used to incarcerate over 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent, just because they were suspected of being enemies, based on a lie that was enshrined in a military memo? How did they respond? They became the most decorated war heroes of 442nd Batallion who fought valiantly during World War II. America’s betrayal was paid by national valor and extraordinary heroes’ courage from Americans of Japanese descent.
“Turning on people who are in some way unlike us-who don’t look like us, don’t act like us, didn’t vote like us is not the path we should be taking,” Oprah wrote in the March article.
American democracy is built on understanding that all 325,642,556 residents have value and an opportunity to contribute to a civil discourse and utilize their potentials for the betterment of this country.
We are not a reality-TV democracy. There are no cuts and retakes. Democracy unfolds as we interact with each other. Even Pope Francis reminds us that “rigidity in thinking” is not divine. We need to listen more with our two ears and use our one tongue to do no harm to another. We need to verify and challenge our long held beliefs, perhaps formed from spun fake news, like that of Cameron Harris.
The same goes for the circle of folks around the 45th U.S. President, and the president himself, from whom the best examples of human behaviors must come from.
Should we align ourselves with these core American values of harmony, inclusiveness, equality, freedom and respect for human rights?
For when we embody that as a nation, we are America’s harmony, our American democracy becomes the best manifestation of ourselves: whole, wholesome, completed, with a sense of pride of who we are, even if we come from these descents: Germans, African Americans, Irish, Mexicans, English, Italians, Polish, French, Armenians, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Alaska Native, American Indian, East Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Serbians, Syrians, Iraqis, Arabs, and more.
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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 9 years now. She contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Mexico and 22 national parks in the US, in pursuit of her love for arts.