Undoing a lifetime of “education” is not an easy task. For the past three plus years I, and many others who feel deceived over the lies we have been fed our entire lives, are re-educating ourselves. It has taken an immense amount of reading US history and US foreign involvement as well as listening to a wide variety of podcasts and interviews, and visiting places not normally visited, to come to the clear conclusion that I was a lifelong recipient of history and current events through the eyes of the victors. That I was mis-educated or more accurately put, I, my generation as well as generations before and after, were/are subjects of overt propaganda. I do not say this easily or lightly but rather with great sadness and anger.
Sure when I was a kid there was Vietnam so I should have known. But communism! We couldn’t let those commies take us over and create yet another country of Handmaids. How perfectly crafted by those with power that we equate an economic system with a political one. And how ironic that we are willing to give our country over to a republican authoritarian but we can’t consider the economic benefits of socialism. I remember reading about the Berrigan Brothers, the Black Panthers, Jane Fonda and that they all were “bad” players causing chaos in our great country. As I got older I joined what was presented as “the other side” by voting for Democrats, because we all knew they were the party for the people. But I was also a hardworking minion who tried to get an education and keep a roof over my head without needing help from others. The past few years I have looked back at my ignorance and apathy and initially chalked it up to the incredible effort it took to get that education, to pay bills, and then to raise a family. I never questioned white supremacy and the benefits I received because of it. I never really took time to wonder if I was being fed lies. Why would I? I knew that I was lucky to live in the greatest country on Earth. I cringe as I type this.
Until I became aware of the recent inhumane treatment of individuals and families arriving at our southern border seeking safety, I sadly and with great embarrassment and shame admit that I didn’t pay proper attention to what our government and country was doing. I totally and thoroughly accepted that we were the greatest country to live in and we were the greatest because we were the most moral. I again, with embarrassment and shame, believed that our advanced morality led us to have the largest military force on the planet so we could carry out our moral obligations. I am not kidding. I believed this. 100% believed it. I was carefully raised to believe it, at home, at school, at church, at friends’s homes.
The first real crack in this belief system came during the Clinton term. I was in graduate school and teaching kindergartners. I had time to listen to the car radio while driving several times a week back and forth to classes which were well over an hour away. It was hearing about Rwanda and the genocide that began my questioning. Witnessing the lack of response from our country I began to wonder why. Why, if we are the greatest moral leader of all time would we not help? Then came Bosnia and I waited for us to march in and save the day. That day never came. And as confused as I was, I sadly went back to my life, letting our government off the hook, again. A few years later I was teaching middle schoolers science and social studies. Now that is a sad testament to our public education system because while I had a masters degree in science education, I knew nothing of history. By the time I settled into my new teaching position it was “Columbus Day”. To prepare for a social studies lesson, I read an article in an education journal on this. For the first time in my life I read about the real Columbus. I was in my mid forties. I can remember it like it was yesterday. My two kids were in bed, lights were low and the house was quiet and I silently read and then wept as I read about the genocide to the native peoples that this man, his crew, and the countries that supported him unleashed on the “new world”. I still fill up with rage and grief when I think about this. I chose not to teach about him. I just couldn’t bring myself to it. Another lost opportunity. Time went on. Bush and Obama came and went and I kept my nose to the grind stone like a good little democrat and capitalist worker. I didn’t question. God, I regret that.
Then came what may actually be the best thing to happen to this country. I say this with incredible hesitation because of the amount of evil unleashed on millions who suffered and continue to suffer from his reign; trump. But this evil excuse of a guy single handedly opened my eyes and those of many people to the real country we live in. During this time I retired and for the first time in 50 years, I had time. Time to stop. Time to read and pay attention and not worry about providing for a family. That one event, retirement and the jumping off the carousel of life in a job, allowed me time. Capitalism is incredibly successful in taking time away from us. And in doing so taking our power away as well. I have come to the conclusion that it is part of the plan.
But even with all the reading etc, the reality of our country still didn’t come to me until I stood at a child concentration camp in the swamps of south Florida. A concentration camp that our country set up, ran, paid for, and supported. A concentration camp where people, including leaders in our government, made lots and lots of money off of. Something deep and raw rose in me as I stood watching the children of other mothers being kept prisoners in this godforsaken camp. I struggled with the realization that we so easily took children away from their families and kept them in this dangerous place. My re-education had much more urgency. It turns out we’ve used this strategy many times in our country’s history. This revolting action began when Columbus set foot on this beautiful and rich continent and showed itself again and again throughout the centuries. After a few trips to the Texas/Mexico southern border to see for myself what was happening and to help those living and working there, I kept asking how such a moral world leader, the great U.S.of A. could send such obviously traumatized people away. Only one answer can explain this; we are not the country I was taught we were. But it wasn’t until I began to read about U.S. policy of the past 100+ years in Central America that the curtain was thoroughly pulled back and our history and our purpose were clear as day. And as I researched, I found that Central America wasn’t the only place we “injected” powers that would provide us the economic riches that we felt we required while wiping out the innocent peoples who tried to live and raise their families on the land we so desperately wanted. It was then I learned that the unthinkable policies put on steroids by trump and his disgusting sidekicks were ones of deterrence that began under Clinton. Yes, the guy who played Fleetwood Mac at his inauguration, telling us a new day was coming, designed some of the most inhumane racist border policies in place today. They were militarized and ramped up by Bush and Obama and I realized it did not matter one bit which party was in power because they both are beholden to the real power of our country, the corporate powers. Especially the power of oil. Under trump this was put on full display for the world to see. Well, in all honesty and reality, for many, especially younger people with internet savvy, it was visible way before him.
Like many others, when Covid came along I had even more time to read and research.The world was shut down. My son was in Vietnam and couldn’t leave. I wanted to learn more about this far away place that was so generously housing my son. Again, I was brought to tears by what we did. How could we do such unimaginable violence to such beautiful people, to such a beautiful country? To people just trying to live like you and me, raising their family. They did nothing to harm us. Nothing. Many lived in such extreme poverty. While I do remember seeing this war on TV as a kid, I was told it was necessary to “save” the Vietnamese people from the dangers of Communism. Now I know what a load of crap that was and like everywhere else we find ourselves uninvited, it was/is for one reason only, global economic superiority. I literally got sick to my stomach.
So here I sit. Finishing the book pictured above, watching helicopters leaving Kabul full of people with fear and exhaustion etched on their faces. Faces of those we violated with 20 years of incredible violence while U.S. companies profited. As I watch this I continue to read about more traumatized people who are still sent back across a border they have every right to cross. Back to lands from which they ran. And I ask, “Why?” I think of something Clinton said that rings true for everything that determines our actions, “It’s the economy stupid.” It clearly doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat. So why do we act like it does?
When you get time, which depending on your life situation you may or may not be granted, read the above book. It’s long, and it touches on many time periods during the history of this country that are difficult to read. But if you want to know the truth, because with truth comes power, give it a read. The depth isn’t there but it is eye opening and gives you many time periods to research more. The labor movement, the strikes, and the attempted rise of socialism during the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century are something I want to read more about. Something else that becomes very clear is that those leaders who history lessons taught us were good men, were not so great. Always, always, the economy and the protection of the richest corporations were the underlying reason for any “good” they did. As I stressed with my children and the children I taught, intent matters. Think Mt. Rushmore. Research each of those guys. Right from colonization, “western expansion”, slavery, the New Deal, to the policies being put forward today, it’s about giving the masses just enough so they don’t revolt. Well you know what I’m beginning to think? Revolt! Rise up against the powers that imprison us with poverty, environmental degradation, militarization of everything, racism, and prisons. Like the many time periods that were full of strife before us, we must go on record as saying, “Enough, this is wrong and we won’t be silent anymore.” And then begin the process of righting the wrongs. So many wrongs. Only then, will we begin to become the great country we proclaim to be. I hope I live long enough to witness this.
With love, for peace, and in solidarity,