I hate to be a prophet of doom, but America has some pretty dark karma to work through–karma that started well before the official start of our country. Since that time we’ve fabricated myths to deny the realities of that karma, myths that are apparent to this day and that have created a polarized country that is, in effect, fighting another civil war. As in 1860 when half the country professed fealty to slavery and half the country was against the further enslavement of human beings, we’re now divided into Trump Republicans and Liberal Democrats.
Whether we proceed to enter a physical war remains to be seen but the two sides are deeply opposed to even talking to one another. The only thing they seem to be in agreement on is opposition to the war in Ukraine, although there are a number of Republican politicians who are against any further military aid to Ukraine and even lean towards supporting Putin. Their number one goal, amidst all the problems we have is apparently to make Joe Biden look bad so he will lose support in ’22 and ’24. Mitch McConnell has been obsessed with this strategy since Barack Obama was president. And with Manchin siding with the GOP on major issues and the Supreme Court taking an ultra conservative tack since Trump’s three appointees were confirmed, the Democrats busy themselves with defending against the baby formula shortage. It’s discouraging to see a democracy swirl down the drain without much attempt to plug the leaks in the tank.
We need an Abe Lincoln with the courage of a lion and not a bunch of whimpering victims of a junior high bully. We need someone with the guts of Lincoln who could beat Trump and his Republicans like a rug on a clothes line.
But that’s not the main reason I’m writing today. I have a theory as to how we got in this mess and how we might begin to extract ourselves before we end up like the Holy Roman Empire, and everybody knows what happened to it. Charles Darwin showed us how animals evolve in reaction to their need to survive and continue their species. (Although even there, many Republicans don’t ascribe to Darwinism and don’t want it taught in our public schools!). Animals make changes over time in response to the changes and threats in their environment-changes that eventually become so ingrained that they solidify in their genetic DNA material generation after generation. Human beings, of course, being mammals, are no different.
The seminal epoch in the history of our country was the advent and continuation for several hundred years of slavery, a time when human beings were treated worse than animals and were actually tallied as three-fifths of a human being in the original Constitution. You all know by now how they were abused, bred, and murdered over those horrible years so I needn’t inventory it all in these pages. Consideration was given to enslave Native Americans, called Indians by the original white setters, but they resisted from the start, drawing inspiration from courageous chiefs and wise elders. Instead, they were banished from their ancestral lands and murdered.
So attention turned to merchants who were selling Africans as slaves. Despite any moral considerations, landowners in the South seized the opportunity to secure free labor and proceeded to become rich men with vast political power as a result. So from 1619 to 1863, human slavery was the law of the land. And from 1870 to 1964, brutal Jim Crow practices and laws, particularly in the South, but also in varying degrees in other parts of the country, essentially enslaved Black Americans further.
What effect did this have genetically on Blacks and Whites in this nation? I submit that hatred and suspicion are largely prevalent in both races to this day, directed towards each other. Due to how they’ve been treated over these centuries, Blacks keep their distance from Whites, live in their own communities, work at jobs friendly to minorities, bank where they can obtain loans without discrimination, and make friends mostly with other Blacks. Whites also live where mostly other Whites live, shop where Whites shop, work in White controlled businesses or corporations, and fraternize mostly with other Whites. Generally if a White sees a Black, particularly a Black man or teen, approaching them on a lonely street in a city, they will more than likely cross the street to avoid the confrontation. A Black person will not cross a street to avoid a White, but will avert their eyes, genetically remembering the consequences for looking at a White directly from millennia of cruel punishment for doing so in the American South.
Behavior is largely conditioned as psychologists have shown. And conditioned behavior usually translates to corresponding genes that get passed from generation to generation. The behavior of white slaveowners has also embedded genetically, manifesting in today’s conservative politicians, in hiring practices, in blocking civil rights legislation, in continued housing discrimination, in educational opportunities, in blocking internal and external infrastructure, in income discrepancies, in police protection, in health care advantages. The list goes on and on.
Laws have been passed to right the wrong, but conservatives constantly push against these laws, and the often conservative courts follow suit. Even our present ultra-conservative leaning Supreme Court has reversed long standing civil rights legislation, along with other established precedents. And GOP-controlled state legislatures have enacted voter suppression laws not unlike the laws that blocked Black voters and politicians just after the Civil War.
This last point is critical given the inbred nature of systemic racism. In order to change the societal genetic landscape, the government and the courts must support laws that right the wrongs of the past. Otherwise nothing will change, and the principles put forth in the Declaration of Independence will be for naught, thus furthering our moral and legal downward slide as a culture and a viable democratic republic where “all men/people are created equal.”
Presently, we are a divided country, racially, politically, and, seemingly, morally. That can only be sustained for so long, as we’ve seen historically. Discord devolves into turmoil. Turmoil devolves into anarchy. Anarchy devolves into dictatorship and fascism. And this kind of fall is a result of years and years of genetic karma–the word karma coming from the Sanskrit word for action–of the kind I’ve described. The Buddhists say the way to change karma is to hold past actions up to the light and make a conscious, enlightened effort to see the error of that action and change direction–with honesty, courage, fortitude, compassion, understanding, and wisdom.
It’s not easy to change the karma of a nation. In a sense, each individual of that nation must also look at their own past actions and make changes on that level. There must be a common goal, a common mission statement, of which the United States has two: the Declaration of Independence and the Golden Rule.
Let’s live by them, shall we!