Syrian and African refugees are flooding Europe. Foreign ministers of the EU huddle in angst to find a solution to the crisis. A little boy lapped by the waves on the beach captures our heart, a heart that we believe helpless to solve either the hostilities of the terrorist threat or the plight of the poor. Meanwhile thousands upon thousands of Central Americans flee gang and narco-violence only to be housed in detention centers for children in Texas. We, with Hungary, dream of a better wall.
In 1954 the US Central Intelligence Agency, in league with United Fruit Company, Congress, President Eisenhower and the US Department of State, overthrew the democratically elected government of Guatemala. The New York Times, Time Magazine and the rest of the major media of the day swallowed the manufactured anti-communist rhetoric, reporting persistently and with favor what in reality was a thin charade of a military coup against a very democratic regime. The agricultural land and labor of the indigenous people of Guatemala were the true prize.
Alas, it didn’t work out so well and ultimately required millions of dollars of arms, annually, to support successive regimes of oppression in the slaughter or disappearance of an estimated 250,000 Guatemalans, mostly indigenous, in the years between then and the early 1990’s. Today, US and Canadian mining and agricultural interests quietly pursue the same business, in league with governments to engineer trade pacts that pave the way for the interests of wealth at the expense of the powerless. We are blind and complicit in our convenient comfort.
The Guatemalan people, once again last week, spoke up, peacefully and successfully, to unseat the latest propped up corrupt president – a seeming victory. But let’s read the history. Anyone elected who intends to act in the best interests of all the citizens of Guatemala faces North American defamation and, as likely, murder for their efforts. The best interests of all the citizens of Guatemala do not align with the insatiable hunger of the powers that be.
Greed fuels the engine of power abused. Violence and despair are its polluted exhaust. And there is no limit to the sophistication and depravity of lies and destruction that, unchecked, may be served up to keep that turbine whirling.
Fourteen years ago this week, these same powers co-opted the destruction of the World Trade Center towers as the demon of terrorism to mask yet another generation of violence in the Middle East. The bitter fruit of that story is no different than that of Guatemala. Hundreds of thousands, mostly civilian, lie dead (only thousands of our own, a cynically acceptable return on investment) in an ecological, social and political waste land that cranks out profits beyond the pale for military and oil contractors. And the embedded press, as always, missed the story entirely, serving up the dulling Kool-Aid® of terrorist threat to a complacent and willing public.
Time will tell whether the demise of those buildings and lives served only as serendipitously convenient cover or whether, just like in 1954, this was an orchestrated sleight of hand to camouflage greed beyond imagination. No matter at this point. Violence and greed breed poverty and oppression, paving the way for trafficking and profiteering of all kinds. Terrorists, drug lords, pimps and gang leaders are no more than a distracting by-product. The immigrant crisis in Europe and the United States is not the problem of those that are fleeing. Nor is it the result of the immediate violence that pushes these poor people, at last, to embrace the risk and humiliation of their plight. Rather, it is the fruit of the soil tilled by the heart of greed.
There is no political or military solution, friends. There is no magical system or policy. And our Band-Aid® social and relief programs address only symptoms, not the disease. There is only our willful refusal to connect the dots all the way back to the root and make the choice for which we are responsible.
When we are stuck in the fear of death under the metaphorical Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we respond with greed, violence and the abuse of power. We do this as individuals. And the heart we choose as individuals becomes the collective heart of our institutions of commerce, religion and government. These work together seamlessly to mask our bottomless fear, hunger and despair.
When the individuals at the helm of obscene wealth and its political, covert and military minions come to terms with the empty depravity of their abusive choices; when we as citizens of privilege are willing to face our complicity in blind addiction to comfort, we may find and embrace the solution to both the misery of the oppressed and the wake of violence that flows in to fill the void of our desecration.
We are neither helpless nor irreparably fallen. We have a choice. There is enough. We are each and all responsible. When we turn to live under the Tree of Life, we choose to embrace rather than oppress the powerless. We refuse to create an enemy that masks and justifies the violence of our greed. And we harvest the fruit of goodness instead of the bitter and rotten fruit we feed to the refugees of our depravity.
Conversion and salvation are not the easy mouthing of the name of Jesus. They are, rather, the conscious and practiced choice of maturity, of becoming the true Self of compassion and kindness we are intended and able to be. Come Lord Jesus. Come Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna and Aunt Susie. Come you and me, with nothing but the desire to heal our hearts, in rest and sharing under the Tree of Life. It is there, for our choosing, at the center of the City of Our Source, with its fruit in every season and its leaves for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22: 2)
© Jerry S Kennell, Two Trees in the Garden. Feel free to quote, as useful, with proper reference.
Jerry Kennell provides spiritual direction in person and by Skype at Two Trees Center for Spiritual Development. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text to (970) 217-6078. Click FOLLOW in the upper left menu bar to be notified of future posts.