Woke. What does it mean? To the Trump GOP? To the sane world? Well, the Buddha was woke, since Buddha in Sanskrit means the awakened one. That’s right, woke signifies one who has woken up to reality. One who is awareness of the truth. One who is sensitive and aware of the needs of others. One who is compassionate and empathetic. One who is kind, generous, and considerate towards others in need. Woke is a positive human trait. But the Republicans have twisted it to mean something negative, something connected with liberals, with democrats, even with Joe Biden (hence the wacko Newsmax reporter who asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a news conference if Biden was woke). Republicans have added “woke” to their culture wars strategy to mask the fact that they have absolutely no other policy proposals besides their very un-woke idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare.
What’s sad is that their distortions are catching on with voters who mainly watch Fox “news” for their daily dose of “information.” What’s sad too is that the propaganda network Fox is the most watched “news network” in America, indicating how far we’ve sunk below the lofty standard of wokeness, a standard which defines a democracy at its core.
That’s right. Democracy requires a level of wokeness, of awareness, of sanity, of openness to obvious truth, of tolerance of others who don’t seemingly fit into the mold of a melting pot nation. For that is what we are and have been right from day one. A place where all men, all people, are created equal. Worldwide, it was a unique concept in 1776. It was a world of kings and queens and their monarchies. It was a world of haves and have nots, of plantation owners and slaves, of landholders and peasants, of men and women/children, of self-righteous missionaries and pagans. Hardly a world where every human being was considered equal, legally and actually.
But Jefferson and the Founders changed that. Even though many of them were also slaveholders, they put forth a document, The Declaration of Independence, that announced a higher, more conscious standard for countries to follow. Obviously, it was not well received by England,the staunchly conservative monarchy that controlled the American colonies at the time. But the Revolutionary War settled that score. The colonists prevailed and formalized Jefferson’s ideas in their Constitution, only adding to that concept over the years with its 26 Amendments.
Lincoln, arguably our greatest President–the President who kept this union of states together–also helped solidify Jefferson’s ideals of “of the people, for the people, and by the people” in his Gettysburg Address. He then freed the slaves and changed the world forever. By doing so, Lincoln was our most woke president.
Personally, I am proud to be woke. I am in favor of acknowledging systemic racism in our present-day society, making amends for it, and reversing it through appropriate reperations and accommodations for Blacks and Native Americans who were cruelly abused and denigrated and demeaned. Imagine plantation owners who for several hundred years greedily rubbed their hands together thinking of how much money they could make with the free labor of slavery. Imagine pioneers who salivated over the free land they could take from the “savage” Indians who had lived on, cared for, and held sacred that land for 21,000 years before the invasion of white Europeans.
Yes, as a woke citizen of the United States, I acknowledge that we owe these oppressed people one hell of a lot of “affirmative actions” to help get them back on their feet towards the equality our Constitution affords them.
Trump Conservatives assuage their guilty consciences with denial and rationalizations that they are not racists, that we are making progress, that we must not live in the past, that we must not teach our young the truths of our history, lest they bear the scars of those realities. They don’t understand that denial and lies only deepen those scars in the long run. Transparency and honesty may be tough to hear, but only facing the truth will heal the wounds of the past. I know this from 40 years of counseling the severely mentally ill. I know this from even more years of my own tendencies to lapse into denial, rationalization, and projection, eventually seeing first hand the advantages of wokeness and the higher level of consciousness that personal honesty, awareness, and truth bring.
Yes, wokeness is a virtue and very much not the demon Trump Republicans are trying to paint it. Don’t fall for their lies and deceptions and misinformation. They have far more regard for power over people.