(Photo: Sixth grade lesson on interdependence.)
By Robert C. Koehler
Source: Common Wonders
Robert C Koehler
“. . . we belong to the Earth more than to a nation. . .”
These words stick to my heart like a wedding ring. They emanate a sharp brilliance, a weeping desire, and a hope that cuts me to the core. At the same time, I feel surrounded by a cynical “realism”: Don’t be silly. Such a marriage is not possible. Be thankful that you are American. Arm yourself! We are being invaded.
Border! When the term is used, it virtually always refers to the South, where migrants die in the desert, approximately 10,000 in the last 25 years. Yes, the southern border, America’s underbelly, where hordes of Third Worlders congregate, shaking their fists, demanding entry and access to our wealth, our jobs. For many Americans, the answer is obvious; it’s basic racism. They are different from us! That means they don’t belong here.
And in recent weeks, as three years of covid restrictions have been relaxed: “Heeding the call of the state’s right-wing political leaders, armed vigilantes harassed and harassed humanitarian aid providers during the day and at dusk surrounded migrant children in the dark”. Ryan Devereaux writes in The Intercept.
His efforts to protect the United States, he says, include poking holes in water tanks that aid workers have installed along the border to give migrants a better chance of survival. There is no way this can be allowed!
But, of course, it’s not just vigilantes who “defend” the US border. The government is completely defense oriented in its attitude towards immigration. As Alan Lizárraga of the Border Network for Human Rights says, quoted by Candice Bernd in Truthout:
“The border has never been as militarized as it is now. We have the state government sending troops here, the National Guard. We also have state troopers at the border. We just received additional troops from President Biden. . . . (I)instead of creating real policies that help achieve a more humane and practical immigration system, we’re getting Border Protection Units, we’re getting military personnel, we’re getting more police, more agents.”
This is where the money goes. That’s where the country’s official effort is going: keeping the most desperate immigrants out of the country, perhaps at the cost of their lives (not our problem). The futility and folly of our government’s policy begins merely with the cruelty it manifests at the border; the separation of families, the cage of children, etc., etc. I am not saying that a shift towards greater empathy for the plight of migrants simply requires a change in attitude. Understanding and confronting the causes of the flow of migrants towards the southern border – wars and poverty and persecution around the world – is enormously complex and would require very profound changes in our way of thinking: in our attitude towards the rest of the world. world.
So I go back to the words at the beginning of the column, from Steve Taylor’s essay in The Conversation; My main identity our identity – not as Americans but as inhabitants of this planet, which we share with seven billion other members of the human race, not to mention every other species, every plant, every handful of soil, every drop of water. In fact, “share” is not the right word here. Hey, President Biden, listen. We are all connected to each other! We are all part of an almost infinitely complex ecosystem, and we had better do what we must to preserve it. The last thing we need to do is play “Get out of here! This is mine!”
The bottom line I’m getting at, let me say, is that “America” is an abstraction, a made-up entity and should by no means be our first or, for God’s sake, our first. only concern. A border wall, for example, that is “good for America” but bad for the environment is a disastrous irony. The changes that human civilization as a whole must make to rescue the global ecosystem, devastated by human exploitation and pollution, are almost beyond comprehension. But we cannot begin to address these changes simply as national entities discussing and negotiating with each other, with the participants’ primary, or perhaps sole, focus on “national interests.”
We belong to the Earth more than to a nation.
Acting otherwise is basically a collective neurosis. Taylor, for example, notes that “when people are made to feel insecure and anxious, they tend to worry more about nationalism, status, and success. It seems that we have an impulse to cling to identity labels to defend ourselves against insecurity”, labels defined, for example, by race and nationality.
“In my opinion, then,” he continues, “all nationalist undertakings, like ‘America First’ or Brexit, are highly problematic, as they are based on anxiety and insecurity, thus inevitably creating discord and division. And since nationalism contravenes the essential reality of human nature and human origins, such ventures always turn out to be temporary. It is impossible to undo the fundamental interconnectedness of the human race. At some point, it always reaffirms itself.”
Perhaps one could say that this interconnectedness has reasserted itself as global climate chaos. Limited thinking allows us to kill. If we act with destructive indifference beyond or within our borders, beyond what we value, the consequences always hit home. One form it takes, of course, is climate chaos: rising sea levels, toxic air, ecosystem collapse. A militarized attitude towards other national entities, towards all of our problems, has also led to a plague of mass murder at home.
But I would add that interconnectedness is also reaffirmed as empathy, caring, courage: bringing water to migrants at the border in 2023, ordering a drink at a Greensboro food counter in 1960. Yes, we can transcend our limits, even when doing so means break the law.
Robert Koehler, accused of PeaceVoiceis an award-winning journalist and editor in Chicago. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him at (email protected) or visit their website at commonwonders.com.
Tags: interconnection, symbiosis
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