Watching the TV series ‘America the story of us’ on this hot Indian summer weekend in Arkansas I finally got through the episode on the bloodiest war; where brother fought brother and the ideals of the Union finally prevailed, over the beliefs of the Confederacy. Ten sentences uttered at Gettysburg PA by President Lincoln have stood through history and they summarized the many years of the divide caused by cessation;and the struggles of the civil war and ended with the immortal words, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Modern warfare had killed almost two percent of the US population; which would amount to six million today, and the end was not in sight. The President was a visionary in so many ways besides the abolition of slavery, as the modern nation was being born. Railroads spread across the land and the telegraph became the new internet of instant messages. The first land grant colleges appeared and education got its great boost. Westwards the nation grew at a pace unimaginable before; and a whole continent was opened up, as one of the greatest migration from the old world to the new started. The Indian nations declined into reservations and the African Americans fought shoulder to shoulder for equality and the opportunity to be free.
Today we have a black President whose family in the White House is an inspiration to many other inner city kids; who may have a renewed faith of what can be achieved in this land. There are no excuses any longer; and while the road is still long, and the hidden prejudices still there below the surface, driving the descendants of slaves into pockets of ignorance, without opportunity or franchise, the hope will not perish, of a better world to come. Those who continue to divide humanity by playing the race card or morally superior beliefs of caste or religion should be banished from the public stage. We need to remember the words of the famous philosopher at the dawn of modern Democracy that “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors” – Plato. This is even truer in the developing world and the Middle East and Africa where nascent democracies are struggling; in the same way the soul of America was raked through the fires, of the great civil war. Great achievements require great sacrifices; and we are still at a delicate balance in our history, all over the world.
How can these ignorant, filthy, downtrodden millions know any better; than what they have. They deserve what they get; as they are not ready to lead the disciplined lives, that would let them rise out of their poverty and ignorance. Their leaders are often dynastic rulers cheered on by sycophants and those who benefit from their largess. They cater to a band of loyalists or thugs that project their power; and are often immersed in personal gain or misguided philosophies, at the cost of their larger constituents. The means of production and capital are often controlled by a few; and the masses struggle on, eking out a living at a couple of dollars a day or less. They are chattel and fodder for the great game of politics, that are played across their own lands. Vested interests take a toll on resources and hold back the ingenuity of millions, in the twin reins of power and corruption. They are allowed to live and die in darkness; bereft of basic human needs of energy, sanitation, food and health.
We should again become the beacon on the hill as that is our manifest destiny. There is no longer room for the despots to hold back their huddled masses; and subject them to conditions, that should have been removed by the industrial revolution and modern science. As the last super power we do not need to wage war and invade, to put things right. There are more enlightened ways to take this war on ignorance, disease and poverty to the masses. We have eradicated small pox (which was one of the enemies that George Washington battled in that cruel cold winter in Valley Forge PA, during the revolutionary war) and there are still many more milestones to conquer. Overwhelming force and shock and awe as shown by General Sherman on his march to Atlanta; and then on to the sea in to Savannah Georgia were the final straw that broke the proud South’s back, in the civil war. We do not have to use the scorched earth policy across the globe; to bring bad regimes down, but need a better way.
Visionaries like Bill Gates and other philanthropists like Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford before have shown that along with great wealth comes a great responsibility to do the most good. One cannot bring democracy to the masses but one can aid in bringing education, health care and better nutrition to the poor. The forces of good can overcome the draconian policies of these regimes by taking steps to provide opportunity and knowledge to the people. Then it will be up to the people to bring about the change they so desperately need. We can be the agents of the change; but cannot force it, as it is the people who have to decide what they need or want. They themselves will create the society that will benefit them and their belief systems; will have to evolve to come, into the modern era. This process cannot be forced and will take its own time; depending on the the ability for a region or people, to accept change. All change will not be for the better, so we cannot foresee what the future will bring. The forces of good and evil have fought for millenniums and will continue to do so in the future. We can only chose our leaders well; and then make sure that they do the right things, and if not make a change. Throw the bums out; but use the force of law, and not the capricious whims of the moment. The pursuit for a more perfect union; must first be carried out at home, as there is a lot of work still ahead of us. The war on ignorance, superstition, bias, poverty and bad faith has just begun. Democratic franchise is the greatest choice the founding fathers made for us; and we must continue to strive, to help to perpetuate their legacy.