musings: my thoughts on an ugly world

I haven't seen the world in it's entirety. I haven't seen war in three dimensions. I haven't gone hungry a day in my life. I haven't struggled to protect my family from neighbors, government, or predators. I've never been subjugated or labeled as a minority or been forced to do labor for unfair or zero wages.

I have seen more of the planet than 99% of other inhabitants. I'm among an even smaller percentage (.01%) of people who have circumnavigated the globe on a ship. So what I have learned is that we are headed to an unsurmountable and currently unavoidable path to self destruction.

I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.
— James Natchwey

While it is true we are living in the least violent times our planet has ever seen, the violence we do see is still shocking and troubling when it's in our own back yard. The war on terror continues with our soldiers in harms way. When it's thousands of miles away we do seem to find it easier to disassociate: When it's communities we don't understand it borders on complete disregard. 

It would be impossible for humanity to agree on all things from religion to politics, yet we can all agree we deserve human dignity. I cannot state enough that I am generalizing, but our current world of war and atrocities is likely to be derived from either religion or thirst for power. 

I've been fortunate to see the apartheid era townships of Cape Town, South Africa. I've been fortunate to travel to predominantly Muslim countries at times when the US State Department all but forbid it. I've almost been robbed in Brasil. I've witnessed hungry children in South Africa. I've left a country hastily to avoid a Maoist Rebel takeover. These experiences haven't hardened my view, rather it has broadened my ability to see the world from others perspective.

The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.
— Thomas Paine

With this in mind, I harbor the most dislike and distrust for Americans who blindly hate, label and celebrate intolerance. Yes there are Extremists who are directly responsible for terror, but we should always rise above intolerance and recognize the small number of bad actors within the larger groups of peaceful and loving humans within a differing religious and political belief system. 

On our nations darkest days after tragedies like the Orlando, FL mass shooting, we gather in sadness and unite in anger. Our collective memories will dissolve over time but there will be families and friends of the victims that will carry the horror in their hearts and minds for at least a generation more.

Will the victims differentiate between international or domestic terrorists? Maybe temporarily. History will be the harshest judge and this time we live in will be remembered more for our inability to pass common sense laws on guns. It will be remembered for our country promoting and not shaming rhetoric from aspiring world leaders. Read that again, ASPIRING WORLD LEADERS. 

If we celebrate the Greatest Generation for defending human rights and dignity during the era of World War II, how can we disrespect their contributions and lives lost by reverting to the same thinking they fought to rid our planet of? How can we not see that same ignorance welling up within our own country? This doesn't exemplify any form of intelligence. It doesn't distinguish from "east coast elitism". It's an embarrassing lack of education and understanding that leads to our current divide.

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
— Albert Camus

We have freedom of speech and we should always invite differing opinions and points of view. We also believe in intolerance for intolerance. Our entire progression as a nation is based on this fundamental concept. As we move forward as a nation beyond Orlando, the Boston Marathon and all other recent terrorist tragedies, let us not recede to McCarthy era paranoia and Hilter-esc hatred. We did intern Japanese Americans during WWII. Are we willing to relive that mistake? Registering Muslims in America is a small step in that direction but a big leap in our new normal of hatred and isolationism. "Let's Make America Great Again" is a slogan that will only be true if we reflect back on what we have fought for in the past - not regress.