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Can We Do What’s Right?

I just finished reading a little book by Walter Mosley, a famous Black writer. The book is entitled, What Next: A Memoir Toward World Peace. Written after the infamous attack on the World Trade Center, the author seeks to convey that if there is to be a movement toward world peace, it can best be led by African Americans. His contention is that we know best the brutality of America, the injustice of their policies, the lies that camouflage intent to exploit any advantage that strengthens this society often to the detriment of others.

We are indeed fortunate to live in the strongest and most economically powerful country on the face of the earth. We consume more oil, more food, and more products per capita than any other country. Our opulence has often been built on the poverty of others as we have raided their resources to make our lives more comfortable. We have supported super rich despots as our companies have built relationships on exploiting labor and raping the environment so that we could have more. People who should be our friends have been converted to enemies as they have watched the raiding of their countries and their economies so that Americans could be comfortable.

Is there any confusion why people would hate us so? Do we feel entitled while the rest of the world suffers? Do we enjoy of the comfort of our high perch while others struggle with poverty, disease, and war? Do we believe that humanity is universal and the one God who made us loves everybody? Or, does He love us more?

As African American people, we have endured slavery even after the constitution seemed to speak of the value of all humanity. We have seen the overthrow of governments, just as we witnessed in Wilmington, NC in 1898. We have seen the rise of Jim Crow and the KKK and the insidious concept of “separate but equal” that was anything but. We have seen lynching, and assassinations, and church burnings and restrictive laws designed to keep this country “pure”. In other words, we have seen America in its reality, not as it wants to be seen.

We, according to the author, are best prepared to point out the inconsistencies in our policies. We cannot continue to exploit and expect people to love us. If you treat people the wrong way long enough, they will eventually get tired of it and will strike back. If we keep acting the way we have always acted, we can expect to get what we always have gotten – but soon it will get worse. Certainly Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Korea have taught us something. We must construct a better way of dealing with those who oppose us that gives us a chance to live in harmony.

Peace should be the goal. We can only go so far with intimidation. I believe that this philosophy is called “peace through strength”. I still believe that the true American Way is best. Every person should be respected. Every voice should be heard. People should not be exploited. The environment should be respected. When great wealth exists, usually that means somebody is being taken advantage of. People should be free to believe as they choose and should have the right to a government they select. Rather than impose our will, it is better that people choose our way. The question is - do we really believe this or are they empty words on a meaningless piece of paper? I only hope, like the author, that we can do the right thing.

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