There is grow­ing ani­mos­ity in the United States, which is cre­at­ing fanat­i­cal polar­iza­tion. A soci­ety that is said to respect human rights but yet denies those rights to fel­low cit­i­zens. Fore­front issues have become aggres­sive-boil­ing-pots since facts are now fic­tion based or frac­tion­al­ized to cre­ate pro­pa­ganda. Peo­ple are not held account­able for and freely use mis­in­for­ma­tion to con­fuse issues to serve agen­das that pit peo­ple against each other. None of this is new but win­ning has become the endgame in spite of the cost, and if not care­ful, it will cre­ate griev­ous civil war.

We can­not afford to ignore the bar­ri­ers that are being built, which dehu­man­ize pop­u­la­tions and pre­vent the advance­ment of democ­racy. We need to be mind­ful and empa­thetic to the chal­lenges that peo­ple face and insure that every­one has equal oppor­tu­nity under encom­pass­ing demo­c­ra­tic prin­ci­ples that sep­a­rate church from state.   

Grow­ing up in the 60’s, I saw peo­ple con­stantly voic­ing con­cern and fight­ing for social change. Peo­ple stood up for their rights and chal­lenged the sta­tus quo. We saw it again in the 80’s with groups like Act Up who united in anger and demanded action to end the AIDS crises. These demon­stra­tions drew media atten­tion. There was great trans­for­ma­tion even though groups faced demor­al­iz­ing oppo­si­tion. Lives were shame­fully sac­ri­ficed as peo­ple stood up in order for jus­tice to be heard. This took place in a nation that prides itself on the world stage as a leader of moral­ity and democ­racy.   

Where is democ­racy when our lead­ers allow chil­dren of our nation to go hun­gry or be faced with an absurd edu­ca­tional sys­tem putting debt on their backs? Where is democ­racy when it allows ill­ness to finan­cially dev­as­tate fam­i­lies? Where is democ­racy when it allows lob­bing to over­shadow people’s safety from issues such as gun vio­lence or cli­mate change? Where is democ­racy when it unjustly con­demns a seg­ment of it pop­u­la­tion to impris­on­ment or cre­ates a for-profit jus­tice sys­tem instead of resolv­ing the root prob­lem? Where is democ­racy when the nation flexes its impe­r­ial power on other nations when it is against the will of its peo­ple? And then there is wage inequal­ity, and the list goes on and on. 

It is not my intent to vil­ify gov­ern­ment or ignore the advance­ments of social change. But I am dumb­founded by behav­iors in the United States. I feel that peo­ple need to unite and stand up for rights, rights that are being taken away through an abuse of cor­po­rate and polit­i­cal power. Elected offi­cial are becom­ing more con­cerned with hold­ing office than gov­ern­ing and improv­ing the nation. They are beholden to the power of the wealthy minor­ity and cor­po­rate donors, instead of the major­ity who they are elected to serve.

Democ­racy is about chal­leng­ing ideas to improve them and insure that we have an evolv­ing, human­ist nation. It is about empow­er­ment and oppor­tu­nity for every­one. It keeps faith-based doc­trine out of gov­ern­ing to serve the greater good. It allows peo­ple to believe in a god story if they so choose but it insures that those beliefs do not inter­fere with free­doms or truth. 

In 2005 I pro­duced stick­ers with the slo­gan “Wake Up Your Being Phuct” super­im­posed over a map of the United States. The states are in red with their board­ers out­lined in blue. The Eng­lish lan­guage is being played with to draw atten­tion to the grow­ing divide amongst the Amer­i­can peo­ple; who anchor to a point when they feel that they are informed by a sound bite that does not fully color a com­plex issue. Peo­ple get hung-up on the mania and not the under­ling prob­lem. Moral purity is used to over­shadow empa­thy and respect for oth­ers, con­tra­dict­ing the under­lin­ing val­ues that peo­ple pro­fess to live up to.

As a metaphor, I also want to bring aware­ness to the non­sen­si­cal belief of a so-called “bad” word, a word that is com­mon­place. Who decides a word is bad? Is the word no longer bad or offen­sive if it is spelt dif­fer­ently? Why do peo­ple choose a high ground or become offended when hear­ing a word that is clearly expres­sive?

Dur­ing two years, as I trav­eled around the United States, I put stick­ers in unex­pected places. They were placed in and not stuck to air­plane mag­a­zines, hotel room Bibles, books in both libraries and book­shops. It was my hope that some­one would dis­cover it, inter­pret it as they saw fit, and then place it some­where else. I used any vehi­cle to catch some­one off guard to spark con­ver­sa­tion. Friends also placed them in spots they felt appro­pri­ate.

Keep the con­ver­sa­tion going. Hold our insti­tu­tions account­able by ques­tion­ing their intent and out­comes. Turn­ing off the noise that cre­ates con­fu­sion to the issues we chal­lenge. Sup­port great­ness and pon­der con­tem­po­rary think­ing, open up to a human­ist soci­ety that accepts and cel­e­brates diver­sity. It is our duty to live in har­mony with one and other and the planet.