A couple of days ago I was sitting in a restaurant near a large group of seniors all looking to be at least in their seventies. I couldn’t help but overhear their vehement discussion regarding the numerous problems affecting the U.S. One senior loudly exclaimed, “there are way too many refugees who have settled in California — they are going to eventually take over our country.” I observed the other seniors nodding in agreement to everything the queen of the seniors proclaimed. A man who looked to be in his fifties came over to their table in deference to the queen addressing remarks specifically to her highness in an attempt to gain her approval, “I have issues with Starbucks.” My friend and I had just discussed going to Starbucks on Christmas Day, was this possibly overheard by the group? I heard the mention of Japan during WW II along with the discussion of refugees, but didn’t hear the remainder of the context.
I overheard a heated discussion about why young students shouldn’t all expect to attend college; “those that can, will” was one comment followed by a comment regarding the high student debt many students are forced to take on because their parents couldn’t or didn’t save for their college education. This was followed by the need for many students to just attend a trade school instead of attempting to go to college. Of course, there wasn’t any discussion about the significantly lower wages of those without a college degree.
There was a large age based cultural difference in the seniors mindset and my own. The seniors were all the end product of a major world war, when patriotism and love of country was all too important, when the enemy was the “other” that needed to be eradicated to protect Americans, when because of the advancement of industrialism, materialism became the overarching emphasis of a quickly growing economy, and when any form of “liberalism” was decried on the public street. The progression of spiritual morality would have never grown in the continued climate of the American culturally promoted ideals mentioned above. It took the upheaval of the sixties and seventies, almost like an adolescent rebellion against traditional values, to explode human consciousness forward into a better understanding of peace and justice.
There was the abhorrent involvement in the Vietnam War, propagandized to the American people as an effective way to prevent communism from infecting our democracy, the civil rights movement which highlighted the deep racist attitudes of all America, the women’s rights movement which fought for equal treatment of women, as well as the adolescent search for meaning in life by the expression of freedom for all people characterized by the popular slogans of “love not war,” and “peace.”
However, due to the significant increase in technology; primarily the use of computers and the internet, the mindset of those who actively fought for human rights turned to the active pursuit of making money. Presently, racism is increasing at an alarming rate fueled by the influence of whites who believe minorities will take over our country, as well as a decrease in human rights legal protections. The improved social economic conditions of many Americans has instilled a callousness and insensitivity to the poor and needy, and a mindset that prefers isolation from one’s neighbors. It appears our country is taking steps backwards, but in reality, it is moving forward into the ignorance of spiritual blindness. There is the traditional culturally influenced thinking of the seniors mentioned above combined with the satiated society we live in over-focused on technology to the detriment of the country’s overall spiritual life. Of course, there is always a focus on human rights and equal treatment under the law by minorities which is to their own benefit, but white advantage is still rearing its ugly monstrous head more and more thanks to the unfortunate mindset of our new President. Much of what we are observing in the U.S. is apparent in other countries as well.
It will take a catalyst of some sort to move humanity spiritually forward for the Purpose of Allah, and for the benefit of His Creation. Fair warning, my fellow Americans — we have been protected far too long, and have grown too comfortable with our comfort zones. Birth pangs are always painful, but needful, are they not?