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New Year’s Re(v)olutions

Obama in Rosa Park's seat

Potus in Rosa Park's seat

“It would be a good idea”

Mahatma Gandhi, when asked his opinion of western civilization.

Putting content into fine words would be the greatest of revolutions, now and always. 

Cynics today might be forgiven for thinking that the words of Jesus are often only used as a cover for serial child abuse, but who could doubt that if only all those with four grandparent that called themselves Christians practiced only the following Christian precepts: to love their neighbors as themselves, to do unto others as they would have others do unto them, to never cast the first stone and forgive others their trespasses, then most of the world that even today considers itself civilized would instantly be like heaven on earth. However hypocritical Christians abound and we are as we are.

I cannot imagine that anybody would call Jesus himself a hypocrite, he certainly walked the walk, no space between his words and his actions, however hypocrites can often say memorable things too.

An example: perhaps the greatest hypocrite in America’s history, Thomas Jefferson, a brutal slave owner, a sexual exploiter of his slaves, wrote the most powerful words in the American canon, words that rival the Bible in their grandeur and echo: Jefferson wrote that line, “All men are created equal”…

Despite Jefferson’s hypocrisy, citizens trying to fill those words with some meaning brought about a revolution in my lifetime.

How hypocritical were Jefferson’s words in America’s mouth?

An example. In the segregated South, during World War Two, during America’s war against fascism, African-American GIs, wearing the uniform of the United States army, often found themselves riding in the back of public buses while German POW trustees rode up front with the local white people.

How is that for hypocrisy?

The Civil Rights movement changed that. Today, with all the endless caveats you can apply, a black man is the president of the United States. He is the Chief of State of the most powerful country in the world, sitting in the White House, the tenant of a building where during most of America’s history the only black people ever seen there were butlers and waiters.

People got lynched, went to jail, marched and sang for the photo that tops this post. J. Edgar Hoover would spin in his grave if he saw it. There are people still spinning when they see it.

So, if enough people make their minds up to change, to change themselves, then to change the world, then change is doable.

I would say that during the coming year, the next set of fine noble, words that need to be reconsecrated, refurbished and refilled with meaning are Abraham Lincoln’s from his Gettysburg Address:

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

To do that the Citizen’s United verdict needs to be overturned and campaign financing needs to be regulated. Any meaningful change begins there.

The goal is clear, now the question is, who is going to bell the cat?

Happy New Year!

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David Seaton

David Seaton