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No. of Recommendations: 23
For my sake, I don't care. I'm nearly 45. I've had a life.

For my children's sake, I care. They're nearly 16, 14 and 10. They're just starting life.

I used to have confidence in the truth of the American constitutional aspiration to equal justice, equal opportunity and equal freedom among a cooperative, self-governing population. I knew that there had been a number of hiccups along the way. I knew that there was still plenty of growth and maturation to occur, but I used to have confidence that the system was strong enough to limit the long-term damage to the unfolding of the truth that any person or group temporarily in power might do. I used to think that the general public was too smart and too wise to let that happen.

I used to.

That was then, and this is now.

Now there is a concentration of power among a group with an unfortunate coincidence of characteristics. They see the aspiration not as a cooperative effort of coexistence but as a competition for supremacy: among individuals, among communities, among towns, among counties, among states, among nations and among civilizations. As a result, they draw distinct lines of inclusion and exclusion that prevent the fuzziness of the blending produced by equality of justice, opportunity and freedom. They draw lines of wealth. They draw lines of race. They draw lines of religion. Their lines favor themselves -- both in the sense of looking like them and in the sense of supporting their advantage in the competition. They want to make everybody accept their lines, and they want to have the power to punish anybody who resists.

In service to their perversion of the constitutional aspiration, they have made cynical use of the opportunity presented by an extraordinarily unfortunate event that exposed a national vulnerability and inspired a national fear. The event could be manipulated to appear to follow their lines of wealth, their lines of race and their lines of religion. The event could be manipulated to support their vision of the competition for supremacy among civilizations and among nations, providing justification for preemptive military aggression against foes connected indirectly, if at all, with the unfortunate event -- military aggression that seems intended to effect the expansion by unopposable force of a preexisting imperial international control of wealth and power. They could even extend the manipulation of the event to support their vision of competition among our own population, even in service to the illusion of the stimulation of a faltering economy through the relief of a tax that affects only the unearned income on which they have personally established their own wealth.

Still, the system established in the Constitution is unchanged. Surely the general public is still smart enough and wise enough not to let this happen. Surely they will oppose preemptive military aggression abroad. Surely they will oppose preemptive police aggression at home. Surely they will oppose racists and fundamental religious fanatics who attempt to draw lines of law that circumscribe all of us in usurpation of the Constitutional aspiration.

But the men who established that aspiration didn't reckon on the flood of instantaneous national and international communication that could feed fear, racism and religious bigotry with an incessant stream of lies. They didn't reckon on a time when information would nourish ignorance. They didn't reckon on the death of deliberation and the withering of wisdom. They didn't reckon on the outright triumph of individual selfishness over cooperative coexistence.

Otherwise, they would have thought of their children, their children's children and the children of strangers yet unborn, and they would have found themselves standing where I now stand: an inch from despair.

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