Common Sense

In the human spirit, there is the will to rule and to fight. Whether for justice or for peace. In these times we are living in, the sacred right of human liberty is at stake once again. Irregardless of one's political stance, it is obvious that we must take and bear the arms that our forefathers and their forefathers took to liberate their people from the chains of tyranny.

And yet I must ask, how did we get into this situation? I propose one major factor that led us to our current problem. Complacency. There is a simple theory; hard times create good people willing to fight for the betterment of their community. The betterment of their community leads to good days. And good days create complacency in people and their respective community. And that complacency creates hard times, thus starting the loop all over again. Now are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again? That is a question I cannot answer. There is saying that I believe-or at least, hope that we all know: "Those that do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes", (George Santayana). If we are to look into the past of the United States of the Americas, we see two distinct wars that greatly shaped the future of this country.

The Revolutionary War, to which there were two sides, the Patriots and the Loyalists. Just like in today's situation, we have the Black Lives Matter and "All Lives Matter" movements. Both the Patriots and BLM movement hold the goal of creating radical changes in the system of ruling. For our colonial precursors, they were concerned with the overreaches of King George III. In comparison, our current Commander-in-Chief, Donald J. Trump, reaching to the same despotic heights as those dictators that leaders of the free world seem to despise and fear. The Revolutionary War became the result of England's colonies throwing off the chains of oppression, which in turn, became the US of A. If we are to continue the course that we are on, I foresee another Revolution, in which I neither condone nor condemn. The Loyalist, having similar attitudes to those of the "All Lives Matter" counter-movement, wanted the oppressing government to stay in power. Their complacency and their unwillingness to face change is what gives the oppressing government their power and support. While the "All Lives Matter" movement wishes to imply that black lives do matter, it explicitly denotes the importance of those affected by the systemic racism of police brutality in our country today. Thus, why we are seeing a polarizing divide in the country today.

Which brings me to the second war that shaped the course of American history, and is more relevant to today's situation: the Civil War. Yes, the war that liberated slaves. Like the Revolutionary War, there were two factions that we all know in US History class, the Union and the Confederates. In the northern regions of the US, change was taking place: Women's suffrage, the industrialization of mass production, etc. Whilst in the South, farmers-rich from the cotton and the dehumanization of their black prisoners, were more than happy to keep tradition as it was. There is nothing wrong with tradition of course-unless said tradition is to mistreat a fellow human so badly simply for the amount of melatonin in their skin. (For those of you who don't understand science, I plainly say 'one who would rather mistreat someone just because of how dark their skin is.')

The two commonalities of each war is that each war occurred to throw off the chains of oppression and tyranny. Did it work however? Yes and no. The Revolutionary War eradicated British oppression from the colonies but failed to remove the oppression of African men and women. The Civil War succeeded in emancipating slaves and converting them into free persons, but failed to end the systemic racism or heal the divide between the North and the South.

Now allow us to look to the present. We are once again, fighting the same fight that our parents and grandparents fought when they were our age. What we know as the Civil Rights Movement which took place less than a hundred years ago, is still ongoing; contrary to public education. We were told that Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero and died a martyr. No, he was a victim of the same systemic racism that many POCs become trapped under.

We are lied to, we are told of compliance, that the best way to make change is suffer in silence. Colin Kaepernick, who protested peacefully by kneeling during the US national anthem, faced outrage and controversy for "disrespecting the flag". Yet it seems that the principles of respecting the flag itself are almost forgotten. We are not allowed to wear the flag or design modeled after it, we may not use it for advertisement, yet our fellow "compatriots" and certain leaders seem to have conveniently forgotten those principles of flag-bearing.

We protest peacefully on the streets, yet we are deemed as scum of society. We want nothing except justice for the victims of police brutality, yet our "pillars" of community, the men and women sworn to "serve and protect" us, would rather shoot rubber bullets and tear gas at us, for simply wanting them to change. They deploy undercover police officers to incite violence and division. They would harm and enforce the systemic oppression created by unjust laws because they are complacent in the system, that to change is to lose.

"But how can a law be unjust?" You may ask. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. " A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." To speak plainly, the laws which are currently held in place, may be just, but are enforced by the unjust, twisting the word of the law. Allow us to examine the Jim Crow laws. Were they essentially laws created to enforce "peace"? It would appear so. Were they unjust laws in the essence that they targeted black communities? Yes they were.

Yet still today we are still weighed down by the sins of our country's past. We see white men brandishing the Confederate flag, as if it is not a sign of hatred and division. We see blatant racism and heavy brutality against POCs for the smallest infractions. We see very little change in our bureaucracy after nearly a century of time passes by. Witness a white person commit the same infractions against the law, and all he/she gets is a slap on the wrist. There is a quote I see as profound and to which I find true.

"When you watched NFL players kneel before the flag, you complained that it was an offense to your patriotism.

When you were asked to wear masks, you complained that you couldn't breathe.

When you were told to wear a mask in businesses, you complained it was oppression.

When you were told to stay at home, you complained it was tyranny.

When you saw those stay at home orders enforced, you complained it was fascism.

When you saw people storm a state capitol building with rifles, you celebrated their freedom to exercise the first and second amendments.

When you saw a white man wearing a badge and an American flag kneel on the neck of a black man for seven minutes until he was dead...

You said nothing.

And when you saw thousands take to the streets to protest this overt act of oppression, tyranny, fascism, and stolen breath, again you complain - on behalf of the business owners, and the police, and your patriotism, and your rights.

But not their rights. Never, ever their rights. Not to assemble. Not to define the terms of their own oppression. Not to express their patriotism. Not to breathe. Not to live free.

You are why they protest." - Alex Schiller

Some white communities in America take their freedoms and liberties for granted. It would seem that the color of one's skin gives way to liberties and freedoms of which a POC does not have. Yet if only some groups have those freedoms and liberties, then the exclusivity of said freedoms and liberties are not freedoms and liberties at all! Rather, this is what we call white privilege.

Some say that it does not exist, but let us pay close attention to those who say it. You will find that most of its narrators tend to be those of white middle-upper class families. Families who have never witnessed, much less face or share in the day-to-day racism and oppression of POCs regardless of their financial status.

Speaking of finances, lend me your ears as I discuss the power of the legal tender we commonly know as the dollar bill. Understandably the task of taking care of a nation can be quite stressful. So it should make sense that our leaders should get a lump sum of money to compensate their labor, correct? Let's compare it to a minimum wage worker's funds. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Allow me to set up a scenario. The President's yearly income-irregardless of vacation time, leaves of absences- is $400,000. Not to mention the additional $169,000 they and their family receives in benefits such as allowances, entertainment, and travel. Let's focus on the federal minimum wage now; assuming that the worker's job is a typical 9-5 job. Each day they make $65.25 a day. Assume they work five days a week, Monday-Friday, 45 hours a week, 4 weeks a month, 12 months a year, Saturdays and Sundays off, no benefits since it is a minimum wage job, non-stop, no vacation days, no medical leave, no accidents or incidents, no pay raise. Nothing whatsoever. Not accounting for tax deductions, the worker's yearly income would be roughly $15,660. A startling difference between two areas of service to the community. The premise of the minimum wage when first introduced in 1938 was to protect workers and create the basis for a standard of living.

Yet with the onset spread of COVID-19, minimum wage workers have now been branded as essential workers. Essential for what? Essential in the sense that they make life convenient for everyone else without receiving the same benefits? Essential in the idea that despite making minimum wage, they are nothing more than expendable, not essential, should they run the risk of infection? There is a blatant hypocrisy that minimum wage workers deemed as essential to running the functions of society in a pandemic are still nothing more than employees to be laid off when massive multimillion dollar companies complain about losing money; as if a dollar bill is worth more than a human life?

Sadly that is the case. As we know the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is set to be the world's first trillionaire in a time of economic depression, and global pandemic. Even from a logical point of view, there is no ethical way of being financially well off in times when the national unemployment rate is 14.70% or 20.5 million people.

Do what you will with the information I have given to you. Oh, did you want me to cite my sources? Look it up yourself. Question everything. Take nothing word for word. Think for yourselves.