The Congressional attack image making the most lasting impression this week was the shirtless boy in a bear-pelt headdress with bison horns. What will likely happen to this self-proclaimed “Shaman?”
When he is convicted (the most probable consequence of his escapade) he will probably take up residence in one of our privately-owned, for-profit prisons. There, he will discover a racially-charged culture of blacks, browns, whites, yellows, and reds – all pitted against each other in violent, warring tribes.
Our Shaman (allegedly, I hear, a professed white supremacist) will discover that of his prison mates, 75% are black, brown, yellow, red, and will be out to get him. Sexual predators may provide him some prison loving. He may become a murder target.
He will acquire in prison an education he could have avoided. As he painted his face, donned his bearskin cap, and waved his spear, he did not think of the eventual consequences of his actions. His inability to rationally manage his thinking will now dictate the remainder of his life.
He will now learn what he could have before, had he educated himself. He’s probably not stupid. His brain may work quite well. The problem is that he was and is ignorant. The “little gray cells” of his brain are essentially empty of vitally needed concepts that could have altered his future.
Why? I believe it is caused by an American culture that has nurtured a weak philosophical vision of life. While we note our Shaman’s folly, we are all still barraged with endless advertising messages encouraging us we may have anything we want.
Our economy still sells us the philosophy that drives our culture. An imagined “greatness” is our Shaman’s downfall. Surely he imagined as he entered the Congressional chambers that he was enacting some sort of historically-justified heroic deed.
American “exceptionalism” is our collective weakness. What really prompted the attack on Congress? Was it not a lack of adequate education, created by a superficial profit-obsessed corporate culture and overly-militant political thinking?
Americans intensely admire the ideal of the individual person, surmounting all obstacles, satisfying our personal appetites. Viewing each of us as an integral part of the whole of our nation, striving to contribute to the well being of all of us, is not a trait ardently embraced by Americans.
An interesting contrast is Japan, where all citizens see themselves as a culture where each member owes allegiance to the concept of working for the well being of all. To an extent, so do most Western European countries.
Both have developed capitalist economies with fairly well thought-out social support systems. Not America, however. Our Far Right calls such systems Socialism and jumps immediately to the illogical conclusion that this equates to dictatorial Communism.
We have embraced a predatory economy exalting money and military power.
Some form of national free education for all citizens, strengthened by a clear national political emphasis on non-violent diplomacy over militarism, is needed to return us to sustainable national cohesion.
Can we pull this off in another 2,000 years? Given the state of the human race in general, and our country in particular, I’d place my money, instead, on an additional 10,000. But, I admit to being a cynic.
Although – just maybe the next generation will inherit some combination of genes to make it possible sooner.
So, I guess I’m part optimist.
One must hope.