By Steve Bhaerman
“The truth shall upset you free.” — Swami Beyondananda
Two months ago, my wife Trudy and I were having dinner with her Aunt Lore in Harburg, Germany. Lore had been a young child during the Hitler years, and she almost got her father in trouble because she refused to do the “Heil Hitler!” pledge of allegiance in school. We were reflecting on post-war Germany, and we realized that by having to face the dark, dark shadow of the Holocaust, Germany had attained a level of spiritual maturity that the U.S. had yet to achieve.
I have often said that in the wake of World War II, as the United States succeeded Great Britain as the great world empire (see the work of the late Chalmers Johnson) the American people agreed to the original “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy: we promised not to ask our government what they were doing to “protect” us, and they promised not to tell us. Having just fought another of those “wars to end all wars,” and in terror over possible atomic attack by the Soviet Union, it was an understandable trade off. But it subtly yet firmly established “we the people” as children, as we gave the ultimate authority over to “adults” who knew better how to deal with “the real world.”
Meanwhile, citizens devolved into consumers, more attuned to reality TV than reality. Through the toxic tragedies of the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Iran Contra scandal, the 9/11 attack and its Orwellian aftermath, the so-called liberal media made sure that our delicate psyches were protected from the very upsetting truth – with our collective agreement, of course. (I still remember one woman, upon hearing irrefutable evidence of a criminal perpetration by our government, say, “Well, it may be true – but I don’t believe it!”)
In these apocalyptic times, it would make sense to revisit the original meaning of that word, “the lifting of the veils.” Enter Wikileaks, very inconveniently parting the veils of illusion that have kept the American people from confronting our own heart of darkness. No darker than any other nation, by the way, but intensified by the veneer of “American exceptionalism” – we don’t do that sort of thing. Well, we do. We do do that sort of thing. Whatever the motivation behind Wikileaks, these revelations are forcing the gutless, enabling, obsequious mainstream press – we can call them Weakylicks – to report disturbing news.
The rest is up to an awakening populace, and yes we are awakening. It’s getting more and more difficult to ignore the alarms and hit snooze. As we read the details of how things are really done in this world, we have to ask ourselves three questions:
- Is this acceptable?
- Is there a better way?
- What can we do about it – really?
Those conversations are best convened at the grassroots level among folks from different political perspectives discerning together the “most likely story.” This is already happening – in fact, it’s happening this weekend in Seattle at the first Transpartisan Chautauqua – and this movement calls on American citizens to wake up, wise up and rise up beyond what divides us, to speak and act like adults.
The only way to “overgrow” the illegitimate authority of “might makes right,” and move beyond the insanity of allowing the world to be ruled by the worst of human nature rather than the best, is to establish – perhaps for the first time – the moral authority of we the people.
Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Washington and all the others are quietly cheering us on.
Join the Transpartisan Upwising! Find out more here. http://transpartisan.us/