On 9/11/2001, as the world watched the attacks on the Twin Towers, America had the sympathy and solidarity of people in nations from all over the globe. It was a moment of tragedy, outrage and compassion for those innocent victims who died. Within this horrific event was a unique opportunity for the US and the world, to create deeper connections to unify in the fight for peace, justice and human rights. Sadly, those in power in the US at the time had a typical strongman reaction; “an eye for an eye”, an excuse to launch the War on Terrorism and to retaliate by searching out and killing the “criminals” who were behind these attacks.
Imagine if the US Administration had reacted reflectively, asking themselves why these attacks occurred, and what were the grievances against the US? Were they a call for attention from those poor and marginalized people around the world who suffered from malnutrition, lack of opportunities and disease without care? Or were they angry religious fanatics who wanted to force their will to convert all people to their way of belief and kill them if they resisted? Every nation was ready to help America, land of the free, symbol of democracy and human rights for all people everywhere.
Twenty years hence, we see that the reaction of the US Administration to launch the War on Terrorism eventually alienated many countries around the world from the US and spread terrorism quickly in many places where it had never been. The US has been engaged in a series of failed wars and has lost face as a major power for good in the world. Terrorism, including within the US with all the mass murders, is more widespread now that it was 20 years ago. The many trillions of US dollars spent fighting the War on Terrorism over 20 years could have built schools, hospitals, infrastructure, fed the poor and created economic opportunities for hundreds of millions of needy people in every poor country, to say nothing of avoiding all the suffering, death and destruction that occurred. The good-will that would have resulted from this assistance would have reduced if not eliminated terrorism and set the world on a path toward peaceful cooperation unprecedented in recent history. This is as great a tragedy as the attacks, and those who died were sadly sacrificed in vain.
The world is once again united by a common enemy, COVID-19. However, large numbers of people in almost every country are divided about their governments response and management of the pandemic. We are in yet another war, a War on Disease.
People are fed up with, exhausted and debilitated by wars; on drugs, terrorism, viruses. It is fair of them to ask if there are hidden agendas within the set of management instructions, forcing people into behaviors that benefit a few powerful corporations and people. Over the past 20 years we have watched as those in power have allowed, if not set up, situations where vast amounts of wealth have been transferred from tax payer dollars into the bank accounts of petrochemical companies, weapons manufacturers and big pharma as well as directly from the poor and middle class to the wealthy banks during the financial crisis of 2007 & 2008. In the US, income taxes from working people provide more than half of all taxes received. This means that the majority of the subsidies to petroleum and other corporations and financing of wars are paid for by working people. The fact that working people in the US pay more taxes than hugely profitable corporations is a travesty of democracy.
Under the current pandemic we are witnessing yet another enormous transfer of wealth directly from poor, middle class and wealthy people to the super rich. Government lockdown and business closure policies have bankrupted countless small businesses and impoverished people around the world. The tourism industry has all but collapsed creating a buyers market for hotels, villas and homes that are being swept up for pennies on the dollar by speculators and billionaires.
As we look back it’s reasonable and logical for citizens to conclude that they have been bamboozled by governments and leaders in service to wealthy, corporate profiteers and puppeteers who are pulling the strings. With the many crises that humanity is facing today on almost every important front, health, economic, environmental, social justice/ human rights, political, we no longer have the luxury to keep replenishing the already full pockets of the global Oligarchy without driving our civilization into chaos, disintegration and perhaps even extinction.
The time is now or never to revamp, re-organize, re-invent and create effective and equitable systems that look after the well being of all people and the global environment which is the source of our sustenance.