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we are in the chomp of the ouroboros as i’ve been laid up with what has been coined a “long hauler’s” case of covid19. those stories for another time. for now: the paradoxical us.

the pandemic has illuminated the layers upon layers of dis-unity that is dissolving the united states. this inability to unify is largely a product of human perception. an individual’s perception is created by environment, experience, exposure, and inherited value systems. our lived experiences of “being american” differ radically from one another. comfort as well as fear often keep us from a communion with those that do not share our experiences nor our translations of our own lived-experiences. we live divided from one another.

the world wide web can be used to step into the perception-creating shoes of another. however, instead, our divisions, generally, have been deepened by commercial algorithms that prevent our different lived-realities from “naturally” or easily or effortlessly informing each other. some powerful interests across the political divide are invested in exacerbating the divide. human tendency toward arrogance and self-righteousness enflame the divide. habits of language fortify the divide.

most people who live in the usa have similar underlying cardinal values. we want opportunities to flourish. we want children to escape violence. we disagree about the practices and policies that might enliven these cardinal values. our secondary values clash. let’s not enter those conversations until we establish first and foremost a single shared vision:

is there a bountiful belief among us to create a social environment where no us american child born, no matter the body of that child, emerges with a target tattooed into their flesh and with social nourishment, support, and affection devoid or thin at best?

that aim does not match american history nor contemporary institutional structures and practices. as such movement toward that single shared vision will require change, but this shared belief can serve new us america with a common ground if we anchor ourselves to it unwaveringly. And right now “race” as a social identity is the most fertile place to examine that ground.

some white people are addicted to the story of white supremacy and the social, psychological, and economic advantages it gives to them as individuals and families. some white people do not wish to navigate their human existence without those advantages. for some white people the idea of white supremacy might be their most deeply felt social advantage. they have felt waves of social scorn, but at least they think (if even so quietly that they themselves do not notice), i am white.

race is a critical concept in us society due to its economic roles. due to slavery in the usa, white us americans received an inflated sense of return. they worked hard and this new country flourished. the labor black slaves contributed was not included in the accounting. their labor was invisibilized. likewise, continuing systemic racist ideologies, practices, and policies gave white us americans an elevated sense of themselves as a group. black us americans were not establishing economic self-sufficiency at the same rate. the additional barriers, obstacles, and down-right active dehumanization of black us americans did not inform white us americans’ perceptional frames. except perhaps as a permission slip.

meanwhile, us classism mixed with the american dream enhancing economic standing as a moral index by which to judge and value or de-value individuals. white us americans born into poverty have been and still are targeted with social disdain and excessively hampered by social stigma, bias, and systemic classism that largely lock in their legacy as poor whites. their disadvantages go unrecognized. frequently, they are judged, even by each other, as if their relation to the american dream were identical to ivanka trump’s. only racism prevents them from being found at the bottom of swamp.

the ouroboros symbolizes that everything is connected. but we often do not realize it until we have severed our own body. intense emotional responses to our perception of our experiences are inevitable. and valid. and worthy of respect and honor. by recognizing them, feeling them, and breathing through them, they become equipped to lead us to a deepening empathy, a wider reflection, and a grounding humility. once our emotions pass through those corridors, our best choice may be violent change. but it might not be. violence has a way of re-seeding itself with no loyalty to its farmer.


Consider non-violent communication as a primary tool for your participation in this revolution. Marshall Rosenberg’s book of that title is an excellent introduction. Also, George Lackoff’s classic, Don’t Think of an Elephant holds insights to help you speak more effectively with those who live outside your perceptional frame. It is also a good lesson on how to be mindful with the creation of slogans so they reach a wider audience than those who already think and perceive similarly to you.


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