Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Destructive Crossroads

The Huffington Post
Dylan Ratigan

We find ourselves at a violent crossroads. Whether you are a national voice or an individual without a voice -- there are simple questions we all must ask ourselves today. As individuals wrestle with either a modest or an extreme sense of unfairness in the American political system, the question we have to ask ourselves is "What are we going to do with that energy?

Whatever is to be said about the state of the gunman today, whether he had psychological issues or not, he was angry. Across America today, people are angry. They may choose to channel that anger in a number of either self-destructive or destructive ways. But whatever any of our feelings are, our challenge and our obligation is to channel that energy into a path based on resolution. For a path based on destruction is just that, destruction.

There are two categories of people. The first category is those in the powerful elite -- whether you are an active serving political leader in the legislature, a former political leader, governor or president, a leader of a non-profit group, or the leader of a political organization ranging from the NRA, and the Sierra Club, or whether you are a national or local broadcaster focusing on political issues or some form of political strategist or advisor. This is the power class: The group that has a clear avenue of expression and power inside the political process, inside the political media, and inside politically organized institutions.

Or you may find yourself as the vast majority of Americans do, as a passive observer with little sense beyond your ability to vote -- without having an avenue to express your beliefs and ideas when it comes to the national conversation.

Both the power class and the passive class are experiencing this sense of frustration and unfairness to one degree or another. As the internalization of that energy is self-destructive, it begs the question... How do we as a nation, both as the power class and the passive class, express and ultimately resolve the ongoing unfairness that exists in this country to this day? Though we may not like to believe it, grave unfairness has existed since this country's founding.

Yet, the beauty of the idea that is America is the principle of a government beholden to all of its citizens. As frustrating as the unfairness may appear to be, it is imperative we understand the context that this country has always represented: the ideals of quality and freedom. But our country has always fallen short -- it has always been an ongoing process of trying to close the gap between that unfairness and our ideals.

Today, we find ourselves at a violent crossroads in American history as a result of our inability, or unwillingness to find a healthy outlet to resolve these problems. we now have two options. Internalize the energy into a sea of bile and resentment that will cause you to become less effective, productive and beneficial to those in your life. Internalizing this energy without finding a positive recourse is a recipe for personal disaster. I speak from experience. Internalizing that energy of unfairness, that frustration and that anger is a recipe for self-destruction from a personal to a national level.

We now find ourselves with a desperate need for an outlet for that energy, a need for an outlet that solves our problems rather than destroying ourselves or those around us.

So I pose two questions: For the power class, how are you using the energy of frustration and anger that revolves around the unfairness of this country? Are you using it as a tool to manipulate your environment in order to accumulate power, wealth, fame, or some other self-serving manifestation?

For the passive class, have you chosen to deal with your knowledge of this unfairness either through denial of its existence, or through a logical apathy founded upon the belief that nothing you do will matter?

It goes without saying that the events of today are a wake-up call for every American, regardless of their position in this society. And as we stand as a group at this violent fork in the road, will those within the power class take this wakeup call to acknowledge the responsibility they have to utilize their influence to serve the interests of increased fairness in America -- even if that requires the suffering of personal losses or losses among your powerbase ?

Understand that whether we like it or not, the personal indulgence of this exploitation by some in order to accumulate wealth and power is done so at a mortal danger to all Americans -- each likely as concerned for the wellbeing of this country as you, the passive class, may believe yourself to be.

America is in a desperate need of engagement by all of its citizens, and we all must understand that the luxury of denial and logical apathy among the passive can no longer be afforded. What we witnessed today is the worst expression of human nature. The unresolved frustration that led to today's events not only took the lives of at least five people, but also destroyed the life of the shooter himself in the ultimate act of self-destruction. Shockwaves will be sent through the legislative body of America for months to come.

The path of destruction of ourselves, or of others, is an easy path. The path of resolution, shared sacrifice, and the brutal honesty necessary for those who are benefitting the most from the culture of unfairness that plagues this country today must be addressed.

It is easy for someone like myself or anybody else to get up on a soapbox and point fingers as to who may be given bad guy, or where a given failure, may exist. But, setting a path to resolve the unfairness that plagues this country will originate not by looking outward at those whom we believe are perpetrating a given unfairness, but through a period of brutally honest inward reflection into the values that each of us apply to the ways we make the decisions in our days, from one minute to the next.

It is through investment in internal reflection that we can open the door to the knowledge that only our own happiness and fulfillment can manifest a peaceful path to resolving the problems that we face as a nation.

Through that reflection, those in power can ask themselves whether they can muster the necessary courage to reject the forces of their own ego and their own paycheck to make what they know is the right decision.

Through that reflection, the passive class can muster the strength to shed the protections of denial and apathy.

While your voice may feel hollow by itself, the possibility of becoming part of a national chorus of awakened can serve as a deeper foundation for the compassion and wisdom to accept our own shortfalls and those of our leadership as we continue the national trip toward a more fair and free America.

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