America owes the world more and has more to offer than war and exploitation. I think awaiting the New Millennium we Americans lived a mixed dream: Our destiny would be all humanity’s, a world of peace and prosperity–reward for being inventive, generous, right-minded. Meanwhile, we overlooked greed and hubris in our national psyche–and ominous, impending threats, even beyond terrorism.
Remembering Thomas Jefferson, I suppose we always have aspired to idealism, order and beauty; yet, presently we heed no such grace, no dreams for humanity. America merely reacts to encroaching reality crudely–visionless.
Combat, 1945: I drove a jeep through the moonscape of bombed-out Germany. In 2001 our own people and buildings were disintegrated. Now, in horrific, heartbreaking images, we all ponder a surrealistic world. We know retribution from afar because in the half-century since valiant battles we have become the willing pawns of faceless corporations that usurp governments to exploit the world. For oil they ravish the environment, displace indigenous peoples and destroy cultures from the Arctic and Middle East to Brazil to Indonesia. Currently, we brew the enmity of millions of Arabs.
President Bush now claims the “vision-thing”: Does he envision Mid-East war, Armageddon, world domination, forever-flowing oil? Or, does he see oil-greed and the first Gulf War having spawned today’s terrorists–that endless generations will follow further American adventures? Does he comprehend oil’s Earth-ravaging filth? That oil-dependent, pollution-spewing power plants, factories and autos ravage the Earth? That oil, gas, coal and nuclear are world-threatening abominations curable with clean, modern alternative energy sources? Mankind will not thrive upon Bush/Cheney oil-obsession, preemptive wars, corrupt special interests, environmental rape or eroding liberties.
In fact, all human life itself is now at stake as our leaders remain blind to ever-gathering catastrophes: Nuclear war. Devastated ecosystems. Pandemics. Global warming with climate raging, continents devastated. These are super-terrors which unattended will complete contemporary terrorists’ aims with immeasurable overkill–world annihilation. Obviously we nurture no strategy for either saving Earth or rejuvenating humanity.
So, a truly revolutionary vision: Initiate a brilliant future, a total renewal of civilization. What more epic time of necessity and yearning?
Can we possibly turn nightmare into opportunity for a transcendent, worldwide change? Energy is as basic to life as material wealth. For people and for Earth itself, accessible sources of clean, safe, abundant energy not owned by nations or corporations–wind, solar, ocean wave–can, must, replace the monopolized, the ravaging and polluting before we are consumed by wars, oppression and global warming. Furthermore, vast categories of our infrastructure are decaying. Catastrophe-prone, they must be rebuilt or replaced before disaster. And terrorism demands extreme solutions. Inevitably, raw, sustained vulnerability to focused attack will require radical dispersal of whole systems, institutions and populations. We will be shocked to this reality if some state is rendered uninhabitable by nuclear meltdown: “Homeland Security”, while hiding a vice president, cannot deal with deteriorating, impossible-to-protect mega-targets such as nuclear plants, gas pipelines, harbors, oil fields, petrochemical complexes, transportation systems or skyscrapers.
So, we face planning, redesign and reconstruction of historic magnitude. Viewing the planet’s present condition, the physical and spiritual rebuilding of Europe after WWII will seem a minor achievement. As we bring 21st Century technology to all, the world must revive with its human diversity honored and protected and exploitation finally a 20th Century anachronism.
Thus, America’s great, sensitive task: Rebuild. Disperse. Revitalize.
How? Re-engage legendary American prowess universally–scientifically, commercially, diplomatically and through the United Nations–to rebuild a new, dispersed, vibrant infrastructure and economy worldwide. Massively create jobs and stimulate world trade with empowering, life-enhancing ideas: Safe, clean, home- neighborhood- and community-owned alternative energy sources everywhere. Humanity blended into lushly rejuvenated nature. Empowerment, livability, goodwill and democracy spread abroad. Replace the morbid, bankrupting, backward idea of superpower domination: Weapons dismantled. Global warming reversed. Perhaps, in time, overpopulation, poverty, starvation, ignorance and disease all resolved. Thus, moral determination combined with 21st Century science, ecology and social initiatives will make possible a resonant fulfillment of our American Revolution.
An epic challenge. The world now must produce real visionaries: leaders with Einstein’s imagination, Gandhi’s wisdom, Christ’s compassion, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s and Eleanor Roosevelt’s statesmanship.
Can we? If not, prepare for a post-modern, end-of-time nightmare.
JACK BICE, a veteran of World War II, is a painter and composer living in Austin, Texas. Please visit his online gallery where you can view some of his work, including combat photos, and read a longer version of this essay. His wife Amy Middleton Hamouda is also a well-known artist, visit her work too. Jack can be reached at: email@example.com.