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Thinking Out Loud: Are We Witnessing The Decadence in U.S. Society That Makes Disintegration Inevitable?

March 2, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Fifty-Five

It has been awhile since our last article on the above-mentioned title. Now, we have come to the conclusion of our series, “Thinking Out Loud: Are We Witnessing The Decadence in U.S. Society That Makes Disintegration Inevitable?” We have covered the three main ingredients: violence, greed, and sex. We have touched on other subjects which have leaped the boundaries of the U.S.A., which, in fact, are global, i.e. conflict, terrorism, war, nuclear development and proliferation, climate change, water shortage, robots and clones, hunger, disease, homelessness, poverty, and the collapse of the world economic system. Significantly, while my focus was on greed in the U.S.A., it was tied to the world economic system. When we put all of the above together, it becomes clear that we, the human family, cannot continue down this path.

Significantly, while I was writing this article, I came across an article in the Daily Challenge on February 4, 2016. It was written by Mr. Jonathan Cable. He recounted the various financial institutions in some major cities of the world. He wrote, “‘London – Global Economic Growth Began 2016 on a weak note,’ surveys of business activity suggested on Wednesday, and with inflation remaining low, Central Banks seem under pressure to keep monetary policies easy.”

I also feel compelled to deal with child hunger. There was a staggering article in the Daily Challenge on February 3, 2016. It was written by Marian Wright Edelman, the President of Children’s Defense Fund. Ms. Edelman has been a long-time advocate for the rights of children. I was so moved and angered that I want the world to read this indictment of America. Moreover, it is germane to our subject of survival.

“Nearly 220,000 Ohio children under six and young children of color are more likely to be poor. More than half (55.5%) of Black children, 40.3% of Hispanics, and 19.1% of White children under six in Ohio are poor…. Nearly 1 in 4 Ohio children lacks consistent access to adequate food – that is 653,410 Ohio children of all ages in every corner of the State. Nationally, 15.3 million children were food insecure in 2014. The majority live in families with 1 or more working adults, but they are still unable to consistently afford enough food to keep the wolves of hunger from their door.

“There is no excuse for any child in America to go hungry and malnourished in the richest nation on earth… Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers suffering hunger and malnutrition face increased odds of negative health outcomes during their years of greatest brain development. Food-insecure children under age five are:
– nearly two times more likely to be “fair or poor health”:
-nearly two times more likely to experience developmental delays
-more than twice as likely to be hospitalized.
-two and a half more times to have headaches
-three times more likely to have stomach aches

“The stress and anxiety of early childhood hunger also make it more difficult to learn skills and develop relationships. She continued to list other ills and handicaps, and the crippling effects of food-insecure children. She concluded the article with a quote from Ms. Coretta Scott King. ‘I must remind you that starving a child is violence.'”

I am reminded of Jesus’ quote in Matthew 18:6, “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” No nation can hope to survive that does not care for its children, even provide the necessities of food, especially a rich nation.

I was invited to do the prayer at a National African American Clergy meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia, PA on January 27, 2016. During the invocation, I heard myself praying: “The prophets and the sages tell us that there is the possibility that nuclear weapons can annihilate life; that there is such a thing as global warming; and, there is a possibility of a collapse of the world’s economic system. They tell us that there’s a possibility that robots and clones can be created with intelligence, that water shortage is more serious than we think. Wars are everywhere. We seem to be moving towards an Armageddon. Poverty, disease, and starvation grip the world. At home, violence, hatred, bigotry, homelessness, sickness, joblessness, and despair rule the day; and, the jail houses are packed. Bravely, into this tumultuous situation, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has come to accept the challenge of a leader.”

When I had finished and was returning to my seat, I almost trembled as it dawned on me as never before how frightening were the words I had just uttered. I had just painted. The person who sat before me, Secretary Hillary Clinton, might be one of the persons who will make decisions which can bring to reality the horrors I have expressed, or can make the world a better place.

There are warning signs all around. If we were seriously dealing with one, two, or three of the major problems, perhaps, we could reverse our course. But, there is little indication that enough of the world leaders are sincere about charting a new direction, although there was a recent major meeting of world leaders in Paris, France to draft promises that would address Climate Change. Likewise, there have been recent meeting to address nuclear disarmament. World leaders have made promises before. It remains to be seen whether these promises will be enacted.

President Barack Obama is to be commended for his leadership on two climate-related issues. On November 4, 2015, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to keep fossil fuel in the ground. The second development is the rejection of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.

There are still environmental issues, particularly where people of African ancestry are concerned. Flint, Michigan is very much in the news as of this writing. Flint is a city of 99,000 people (56% African American, and 40% live below the poverty line) who have spent nearly 2 years with poisoned water. Public officials including Michigan’s governor and Flint’s mayor has been criticized for allowing this toxic condition to exist.

Unfortunately, Flint is not the only city where African Americans and people of color are suffering from environmental racism and discrimination. In the Daily Challenge, on February 4, 2016, there was an article entitled, “Environmental Racism Is Slowly Killing Blacks Across America,” written by Jaimee A. Swift. The author wrote, “The poisoning of Black communities in America is certainly not a new phenomenon. Historically, and contemporaneously, people of color, especially in low income communities, have been and continuing to be killed slowly, softly, and silently in their households, schools, and jobs with impunity; and, at a greater rate than police killings and racialized state violence.”

The author quoted a study done by the NAACP in 2012, entitled, “Cold-blooded: Putting Profits Before People.” She wrote, “According to a 2012 NAACP report titled ‘Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People,’ communities of color disproportionately encounter toxic work conditions, environmental hazards and polluted neighborhoods. The report, which is a systematic study of 378 coal-fired plants in the United States, showed 75 of those plants earned an environmental justice grade of’ ‘F.’ Around those 75 failing plants, a total of four million people live within three miles of these plants, their average per capita income is just $17,500 — which is 25 percent lower than the state average.

“Out of those four million people, 53 percent are people of color. The report also found that amongst the 12 worst plants, two million Americans live within three miles of the plants’ locations, having an average per capita income of $14,626. Approximately 76 percent of these residents are people of color.”

Moreover, President Barack Obama has won his way on the Iran Deal, which postponed Iran’s Nuclear Development Program, but he has increased the budget for nuclear development in the USA. There are other nuclear nations which threatened to do the same. Recently, North Korea has increased its nuclear program. The fear is that terrorist groups may get their hands on nuclear devices or nuclear weapons.

… to be continued.