Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
There has never been a country in the history of the world that has occupied the minds of so many nations as the United States. A person is best judged not by the looks, outfit, wealth and power but rather by the character and personality. These two elements are generally viewed as sources of credibility and predictability. This means everyone knows where one stands with such a person in a way that would make us feel comfortable and at ease all the time.
Positive and Constructive Aspects
If we were to read several books about the United States we will soon discover how different they may be. In fact, each of such books may sound to be talking about an entirely different country that happens to bear the same name. The reason is simple. We may view an object from 360 angles each one of which tends to give us a somewhat different perspective. Churchmen, for example, may prefer to focus on American traditional spiritual values that may include week-end participation in religious services, the invocation of God’s name in prayer before every major event, and families united in love and friendship.
Several news-reporters tend to focus on a variety of sports, football in particular. In fact, quite a few millions do not miss watching some tournaments especially in their final stage. Of course, the list in this area may go on and on. Humanitarian groups, along with philanthropists, talk often about their favorite charities, which may serve to help the handicapped and the homeless as well as the poor and the hungry. In this regard, the United States donates yearly more money for just humanitarian causes than any other nation on earth.
In terms of virtue, Americans in general are viewed to be good and trustworthy. Most of them have visited several countries as tourists. In virtue of their presence, they proved to be the best ambassadors of good will that the United States ever had. Until a couple of decades ago or so, Americans were not only liked but, at times, envied as well. As a matter of fact, many foreigners felt the desire to immigrate to the United States and become also citizens. All of this reveals some of the positive and constructive aspects of the United Sates.
We need to keep in mind that viewing the United States from the aspects that have just been presented is not the same as when viewing this same nation from entirely different angles. The United States is a capitalistic nation that is ruled in practice by big corporations, which finance the election of virtually every senator and congressman. Hence, although in theory people elect their government officials to represent them; in practice such government officials represent, first and foremost, the interests of big corporations even when proven to be detrimental to the American people.
Evil of Communism and Capitalism
When Pope John Paul II was asked in Mexico during the decade of the eighties as to whether world peace was feasible he did not hesitate to give a quick reply. He said clearly and emphatically: “Yes, world peace is feasible but only after two of the greatest evils of the 20th century are gone.” Then he added saying: “These two great evils are communism and capitalism because both try to achieve their goals through the exploitation of people.” Some three years later, communism collapsed and the world took a great sigh of relief.
This event gave capitalism the chance to reveal its true self. Instead of embarking on a program of international disarmament and arms control, the elimination of landmines and the abolition of all nuclear weapons, the United States embarked on the largest military build-up in history. Tens of billions of dollars were spent to open hundreds of US military bases around the world and to literally pollute the major oceans of the world with warships.
Instead of cooperating with philanthropists and humanitarian groups in the build-up of a peaceful world community, the United States assumed determinedly the role of becoming literally the policeman of the world. Instead of offering nations across every continent with humanitarian assistance to help eliminate hunger and provide natives with adequate home facilities, the United States offered governments across every continent with all kinds of weapons and all military equipment as to enable them to solve all problems with neighboring countries through struggles and wars.
After the collapse of communism, the United States had the unique opportunity to become an asset to the entire world. Yet, it deliberately blew up this opportunity and set on irreversible course of struggles and wars. As a result, tens of thousands, amounting to millions, of innocent people were slaughtered mercilessly. The world, instead of becoming safer, emerged to become more dangerous. Thousands of those who managed to survive whose properties were destroyed and relatives were killed have now lost the will to live.
Some non-governmental organizations have asked children, ages 9 through 11 in both Gaza and Iraq, what it was they wished to do when they grew up. To their full surprise, more than 80% said unanimously: “Killing Americans!” When each one was asked as to “why” this was their ambition, the answer was quick:
“Because Americans killed my father, they killed my mother, they killed or maimed my brother, along with several relatives; they destroyed our homes and all of our belongings; in essence we lost our will to live.”
Planting Seeds for Future Terrorism
What will happen when in a few years from now, these thousands of children become late teens or in their early twenties? They will surely find ways that would endanger the lives of Americans and even proceed to destroy their property wherever it may be. Of course, when such events will take place because they were instigated in the first place by the Americans years earlier, the US government officials will then label them as Al-Qaeda or Taliban, even though they might never had connection with any of these two groups.
American foreign policies have been viewed by many around the world to be very belligerent. Such policies are based on the slogan: “Do it our own way or else face the consequences!” Such policies are also seen as an expression of machismo revealed in a determination to haunt people with fear, which often leads to paranoia. Once paranoia takes over, the elements of self-control and of solving conflicts through healthy dialogues tend to disappear very fast. More soldiers mean more killing of innocent people that is bound to bring more negative and destructive reactions toward Americans.
The US full reliance on the military to get what it wants by hook or by crook has already put this great nation of so many good projects and good people on the road to financial collapse. US government officials as a whole tend to call the countless trillions of dollars spent on weapons and the military as “defense” money. To this end, there is always money with no end in sight, even to the detriment of Americans’ lives. And these same US government officials refer to any money for the health care of Americans as “deficit” money.
In other words, US government officials as a whole do not even dream to do anything that is substantial for Americans, if that were to interfere with the financial interests of big corporations. The saintly Pope John Paul II, who may become canonized in our lifetime, was right when he condemned capitalism as a great evil because, as he said, “it advances its causes through the exploitation of people.” Ironically, these are Americans for whom their government claims to be fighting wars all over the world “to safeguard their democracy and freedom!”
In recent decades, more people in the United States and around the world are beginning to believe that this nation does not have itself the democracy it advocates other nations to have. Also, Americans do not have the freedom that their government claims it wants to bring to other nations. Democracy is derived from two Greek words, demos (people) + kratia (government). In the United States we only have a façade of democracy. In theory, people elect their government officials supposedly to represent them.
View of Democracy and Freedom
However, for anyone to be elected one must reach the people in their homes through the press, radio and television. To use such media one must pay millions of dollars. This means that to have a chance to be elected one must be either very rich or have some rich sources to finance the campaign. Here is where the big corporations step in. Once the people elect their representatives through a well prepared propaganda, commonly known as “advertisements,” then such elected officials proceed to thank the corporations that financed their campaign by doing anything in their power to boost their corporate products.
All of this modus operandi reveals that to have genuine democracy in a capitalistic nation constitutes a contradiction. As long as the US subscribes to capitalism, it can never have true democracy. Since democracy and freedom seem to be tied together, let us examine the concept of freedom of movement, since this is viewed as vital for people anywhere. When top US government officials advocate to other nations to give freedom to their people, they will have first to see what kind of freedom they do give to Americans in the first place.
Although many people of several countries enjoy the freedom to travel anywhere in the world, even at their own risk, Americans are forbidden by their US government to travel freely in a number of countries. That includes Cuba their peaceful neighbor. The US news-media hardly ever bring any good and constructive news about Cuba, which has been viewed as “enemy” for almost half century! In fact, the United States has put an embargo against Cuba for well over four decades. Cuba committed only one “crime!”
When the Revolution freed Cuba from the tyrannical Fulgencio Batista, the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, made it clear that “Cuba belongs to the Cubans and not to US big corporations.” When such corporations realized that he meant what he said, then they asked US government officials who were elected by corporate money to “punish” Cuba and the embargo, which is still in operation, was imposed. It’s an example of how US government elected officials serve more as puppets of big corporations than as representatives of the people.
A few years ago, Cuba found a cure to some forms of cancer. While people from overseas went to Cuba to be cured of their maladies, the American news media did not bring any news about this event. This was in line with their US corporate policies that news about Cuba must only be negative and destructive. Only God knows how many Americans died that would have still be alive if they paid a visit to Cuba to this end. If Americans do not have freedom of movement to go wherever they want, how can the US government give other nations such a freedom? Nemo dat quod non habet – No one can give anything that one does not have.
Self-Proclaimed Christian Nation
The United States is considered to be mostly a Christian nation. US government officials who feel proud of their traditional Christian heritage speak proudly of the country’s traditional belief in God. In fact, the American motto on money and on quite a few monuments reads: “In God We Trust.” Almost all of these US government officials attend church religious services on week-ends. The majority of them view the Master Teacher of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, as their Redeemer and Lord. All of this is perfectly fine and all of us should feel edified.
However, we are faced with something ironic here. A good number of these self-proclaimed Christians in the US government do not seem to hesitate to censure the teachings of their proclaimed Master Teacher when they feel disagreeable. Whereas the mindset of Jesus was deeply trenched in the culture of peace, the mindset of most of our US government officials is deeply ingrained in the culture of war. We all recall the words of the Master Teacher to the Pharisees:
“The God you preach is not the God I know. You preach a God that advocates the eye for an eye and the tooth for a tooth; the God I know is one who when stricken on the cheek he would not only refrain from retaliating but He would rather be stricken on the other cheek as well.” And when His disciple Peter tried to defend Him by taking out the sword, Jesus was quick to tell him: “Put the sword away for he who kills by the sword will die by the sword.” The mindset of this Master Teacher was truly ingrained in the culture of peace. [Side post: War Culture vs Peace culture]
This mainly Christian nation, whose mindset is deeply trenched in the culture of war, has defied the instructions of the Master Teacher, through its weapons, struggles and wars. Its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan need to be replaced with humanitarian agencies. The US can still provide world leadership to bring world peace. This would need first of all a shift from the mindset of the culture of war to the mindset of the culture of peace. US military bases could become humanitarian quarters. Besides, US war ships floating over the oceans need to be changed into floating hospitals to help save the lives of many.
If what has been stated sounds clear and obvious, how come nothing is being done to change the role of the US military from one of destruction to one of construction? It is more noble and humane to preserve human life from every aspect than to destroy it brutally! The traditional US governmental philosophy of the culture of war needs to be replaced with the virtual unanimous people’s urge toward the eventual implementation the culture of peace. [Dave Roever, Vietnam Veteran “We may change political parties, pass constitution amendments and restructure gun laws but until the heart of man is in right relationship with God nothing will change and violence will continue.“]
Questioned United States Leadership
Is there any hope for the United States to emerge as an instrument of harmony and peace instead of struggles and wars? The answer is yes if all those who are concerned with the creation of a harmonious and peaceful world were to become involved. We cannot leave our constructive actions for tomorrow for as Frank Sinatra said in one of his songs: “Let’s forget about tomorrow for tomorrow never comes.” Here are steps to help replace the culture of war with that of peace.
Periodical demonstrations against war policies are needed to demonstrate to our politicians our outrage and condemnation of their actions.
Legal actions against those politicians who became millionaires through weapons and wars should be taken and have all of their money confiscated.
Constant pressure should be put on government officials to close 50% of the hundreds of US military bases overseas. This would allow the American people to have all the money they need for their health care and education.
Clergymen and physicians, who are responsible for the people’s spiritual and physical needs, should condemn openly the “abuse of power” involved when the US military destroys cities and kills thousands of innocent people.
Big Corporations must be made fully aware of their moral obligation to change their destructive products into constructive ones; instead of making tanks for soldiers they could make tractors for farmers.
Courage and determination should be revealed by those working in the manufacture of weapons to quit immediately their job and to seek for a kind of work that is constructive and beneficial to our earthly community..
Nations everywhere should stop cooperating with the United States when it comes to the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of struggles and wars. They should say loud and clear: Satis est satis – Enough is enough!
A nation cannot be the seat of capitalism and the seat of democracy and freedom at the same time. As stated earlier, this constitutes a contradiction. In capitalism the power lies with big corporations where government officials are merely puppets of such elements, which financed their election. The real hope of the United States lies with the American people. Their courage and perseverance to move forward is bound to bring about constructive results in due time.