I grew up in the Roxbury ghetto in Boston amidst extreme poverty, oppression, and violence. I learned first-hand the incredible cost of human greed and usury. The majority of the people I grew up with were either African-Americans, the grandchildren of former slaves, or Jewish people, who had survived the Nazi concentration camps. At 19, I was a volunteer with the NAACP working on anti-lynching laws. Even back then, I remember feeling quite perturbed by the song, “The Day They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down”. I cringed at the thought that one day the rage and hatred in that song would inevitably manifest itself. And then, with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the revenge of the south was unleashed upon us.
If we look closely at the administration that has hijacked the White House, we see that it is almost an exact replica of the typical southern plantation of the 1800’s. It is all about the accumulation and hoarding of vast amounts of wealth by a small group of rich “land owners”, all of whom are in favour of maximizing profits while keeping down the cost of wages and health care for the workers, or modern-day slaves. It also maximizes the “divide and conquer” principle of control by polarizing one group against another, which, in a way, is another form of “social distancing”.
Everything I have been involved in for over 50 years has been about starting sustainable communities, co-operatives, schools and support groups. I “spark-plugged” the first highly successful Karma Natural Food Co-operative in Toronto in 1972, which is still going strong. Jane Jacobs, the famous urbanologist, who wrote the book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, was one of the first members and ardent supporters of Karma Co-op. A decade earlier Jane had led the movement to stop the commercial development of Central Park in New York City.
What an appropriate title for Jane’s book, given the outbreak of the current pandemic and its impact on major American cities! She once said, ”What we need is a Karma Co-op in every neighbourhood in the world.” How about in Syria, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Wuhan, etc.? Local initiatives instead of mass migration, teeming refugee camps, and poverty-stricken people eating unsafe food and drinking contaminated water.
The American concept of “the pursuit of happiness” has been corrupted by greedy millionaires and billionaires to mean more and more money and material objects. When he was writing his book, “The Wealth of Nations”, Adam Smith could not have foreseen what was coming: the extent of environmental destruction, the spread of global pandemics, and the degradation of human living conditions by unleashed population growth, diminishing resources, increased global travel, and the wide-spread use of on-line marketing and purchasing by hordes of materialistic consumers. What we need is a Social National Product, or an SNP, which is a combination of the GNP and social and environmental factors. In this context, it is important to notice that the word “Eco-Nomics” combines both human and financial components.
In his book, “The Turning Point”, Fritjof Capra suggests that, at some point in evolution, a major “paradigm shift” can take place and, at that time, major change is possible. The hype of the Trump fantasy on so-called “reality t.v.” and the Fox propaganda network are sure signs of this turning point. They are so far out of touch with any definition of reality that people can no longer afford to be seduced into believing their “fake news”. Folks everywhere are demanding to know the truth about this unbelievably destructive pandemic. The emperor now has no clothes. We are on the verge of a huge societal change. Let us all work to make sure that it is for the better!
By Richard M. Haney, M.Ed., Ph.D. (Counselling and Mediation)
Richard has been practicing Wholistic Counselling, Coaching, Hypnotherapy and Mediation for the past 25 years in Ottawa. Contact Richard by phone: (613) 234-5678