John Edwards, the now justly reviled ex-senator from North Carolina, spoke often about the 2 Americas. He was referring to the Haves and Have-Nots of this country and his focus was economic. He took this argument one step further when he made it clear that the Republicans were the party of the Haves and the Democrats were the party of the Nots (have-nots).
As appealing as his message was to many (myself included), he made two critical errors. His first error was that he ignored America’s ethnic and cultural divide. There are the many millions of white, Christian Americans who insist that they are the real Americans. Those of color, those that are gay, those that are Moslem (or Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, whatever) are not as American as they are. These real Americans don’t really hide their contempt for diversity. The other America, which includes many white Christians, is one whose identity is not race or faith based. This America celebrates its diversity and strongly rejects the cultural idea of an America that is fundamentally white, Christian, always straight, and oppressively patriarchal.
So Yes – there are two Americas, but on one dyad it is defined economically and on the second spectrum it is cultural. They overlap in interesting ways. But when we understand this enormous divide, we can see why the Have-Nots will never be able to effectively organize as a force to reform (or replace) the power elite rule of America. For it is with the very elites, who enjoy exploiting their loyalty to fight their wars and pay their taxes, that this real America so strongly identifies with. It would be funny, were it not so painful.
The other error made by Edwards was that the Democrats represent the Have-Nots. Both parties represent the Haves. Their rhetoric varies and the Dems will give occasional lip service to the needs of the “Nots”, but both parties suck from the same teets of the military industrial, mega-corporate, health conglomerate (“MILICORPCON”). The eat from the same pig trough and play the essential game of election campaigns that offer choice with the knowledge that Americans are naive and stupid enough to continue supporting the very entities that are sucking their life blood and leaving them littering the streets with their hollowed out bodies and devastated towns. It’s a game which the Haves must win and the Nots must lose.
It’s rigged from the get-go – but that truth is so uncomfortable that few of us are willing to admit it.
What prevents America from ever moving forward is the massive gaping Wound that lies in the very heart of our national fabric. And this is where I turn to the message of my book,Liberation from the Lie, to bring all of this together. We have a national Wound and that Wound is all about the other 2 – the hidden 2.
I am referring to the war of extinction waged against the Native people of the Americas that began on that very morning when Columbus first laid foot on this American land in 1492 and I am talking about the importation of millions of slaves into this land from Africa. The great power of this land was built on a foundation of genocide. All of that happened and we know it.
So how did we address this massive gaping whole in our cultural being? We covered it up with banal stories of our Manifest Destiny, of our rightful place on this land, on the myth of the white Christian Man who cleared the forests to make way for wonderful farms and fabulous cities. We relegated the Native People to pitiful places where all the good land is still own by Whites (YES even on Reservations!) and our immense national racism has succeeded to convince Black folks that they are truly not welcome as equals unless they do the Christian bourgeois dance for their continuing masters.
Our Fear-Self is the very notion that we are this land of the free and the brave who are neither free nor especially brave. We live in a dream designed to compensate for our bloody sins. This is the one dream that unites the Haves and the Nots. As long we sustain this banality, we will never survive. Not only will we fail as a nation and collapse on the rubbish heap of other failed empires, but we will bring down many around us, for our ugly dream gives us a violent swagger that others find contemptuous at best.
Our collective healing comes in discovering what is true in our nation and in our hearts. The challenge of waking up is, clearly, not just an individual matter. It is the fundamental national issue.
We must come to this truth as a supplicant. We must fall to our knees and apologize for what we have done. We must open our hands, our hearts, and our wallets to the dispossessed.
We must dis-abuse ourselves from our own national Fear-Self. We need to bring the searing light of what is true to our National Wound and show it to the world. Germany has done this with their own recent horrific history. It was relatively easy for them, since their crimes were created by a regime seen as profoundly deviant by all but the few and demented. They were not allowed to sleep in the sweetness of their own ignorance. Their massive crimes were brought to light and they had no choice but to lay themselves open. And, by doing so, they have provided profound healing.
A very similar scenario was followed in South Africa with their Truth and Reconciliation hearings that followed in the wake of the collapse of the white apartheid regime. They took a giant step toward national healing and solidarity with their commitment to truth and justice built on a foundation of forgiveness.
We can do the same and if we don’t, we will fail as a nation. We will just die and our vain monuments will be ignored. The truth cannot be believed away forever. Underneath all the clouds of denial and obfuscation, the truth still shines. That is the very core message of Liberation from the Lie. Your own individual truth shines in your own heart shining its light on everything everywhere. You will continue believing in your stories until you don’t. But the more you put off realizing your own truth by seeing what is false (your beliefs), you will continue to suffer the pain and bleeding of your own Wound.
This is all about healing. The healing must come first. Become your own physician and bring the loving healing light to yourself – to your neighborhood, to your community, to your nation, and to your world. When that moment arrives you will all but drown in your own thankfulness and the earth – the flowers, the birds, the wind, the seas, and the mountains, will rejoice with you. The great thread that connects all of life in you – its unity – will be seen and felt again and you will be One in This.