By Derrick Miller
Published August 7, 2014
Bob Marley once said, “Until there is no first and second class citizen, there will be war.”
Today, it seems everywhere is war, and his words still ring true. Conflicts: Recently our news cycles have been dominated by conflicts, both global and local. It seems most of our sports and social events have diminished, as tanks, rockets, drones, gun-violence at border crossings, and humanitarian crises have become the norms.
Even our skies are not safe any more. The massive exodus we have seen are not people looking for work, or slaves as we came to realize emerging on our borders. They are seeking love, respect, and acceptance, safety, freedom from discrimination, polarization and violence that is woven into intolerance and control.
From Africa to South America, across the Pacific to India, Europe merging back to Caribbean, many people are trapped and some protected at the same time. Immunity today is not from a State Department diplomatic passport, but simply our location, location, location as the world seems to be turning on an unexplainable axis.
Over the last few months, I have decided to save a few new headlines. “Has the world gone ‘Bokish’?” I asked myself. Bokish is not a word in your dictionaries. It is a concept derived from the Nigerian Islāmic leader Boko Haram, who has created turmoil in recent months from kidnapping to other social problems resulting in deaths and a massive exodus of people from the region. Although these people are not on the US border, I believe they would if we were not separated by the ocean.
The world today seems like the days of the Mongol or Viking empires and even Nazi Germany, as atrocities continue to force to expand, rule, and exploit to make territorial gains. Despite what seem to be more updated constitutions from centuries ago to protect people, stymied violence, our leaderships seem like a zero sum game while creating a new form of empires as these socio-economic turmoil are casting doubts on our own sustainability.
• Within the past 12 months over 500 Iraqis died from violence
• Israeli citizens have less than two minutes to find shelter under the threats of rockets
• Four young Jewish boys were abducted and killed
• Four Palestinians being killed just being out playing soccer and over 250 die in the conflicts on both sides
• Authorities throughout Southern California arrested more than 275 child predators that included a teaching assistant for special needs kids, a retired sheriff’s deputy, a US Army soldier and others
• Thousands march in Jamaica to uphold existing anti-sodomy laws, which were first enforced in 1861
• Boko still has not stopped kidnapping people and committing other violence
• Black man killed in New York city in a choke hold by local police for selling illegal single cigarettes
• Kids from Latin America emerged on the America border
• Gun violence has killed more than automobile accidents in recent years
• Black Londoners have complained over the years of being over policed and harassed by police officers.
• Black Americans have complained over the years of being over-policed and harassed by police
• BBC: Child abuse image investigation leads to 660 arrests. The National Crime Agency (NCA) said among the 660 were teachers, medical staff, former police officers, and a social services worker and scout leader
• CNN reported Islāmic extremist kills 270 in an attack on a gas field in central Syria
• Homeless children in Uganda’s urban centers face beating and abuse at the hands of local officials.
• Many are dying from the lack of medical access because of few legislators’ ideology.
As we watch these conflicts take over the world; especially between the Israelis and the Palestinians, including separatists in Ukraine, most of us are tucked away in our gated communities on an iPad and in front of televisions, protected by the ocean. However, we are not immune to violence. And at times it seems that once a community police concept now looks the presidential motorcade passing through, while our own streets have seen more deaths in a year than these troubled regions.
The curiosity we once had welcoming others has become foreign. In fact, our own Founding Fathers had immigrant roots. Today, it seems we are all acting like turtles. It is much easier to pull our heads back inside the shells as a shadow passes by from only fear. If an object, person, event does not look, speak, or has any socio-economic connections, it is rejected immediately. Even when we stick our head out, the shell become more hardened. Minimizing these geopolitical, social, economic unstable eggs will be incubated and hatched from the globalization heat. The expectation that they will swim back to the oceans is less than likely.
A few hours before I sat down to write this piece, I visited a local fish market in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC., I saw two teenagers between ages 13- 15 with their fishing rods preparing to fish in the water along the bay. Carefree as these teenagers were, I thought about the young men in Israel who were kidnapped and killed, and the four killed on a Palestinian beach while playing football. Furthermore, young men mandated to serve in the army and now who would rather be fishing, and how both sides must have felt living under constant threats of rockets and tanks invading their towns due to leaders’ failures to forge peace.
On the other hand, few blocks over has also been plagued with drugs and violence. They too are likely to be killed. As free as they were to roam the bay, our own gun violence in schools and on the street is not much different from rockets and tanks elsewhere. Moreover, the probability of one out of these two boys joining the already two million incarcerated did not offer much hope.
The Exodus: People have always been moving to be protected as history has shown for decades. Ellis Island did not happen because those immigrants were on vacation; they too arrived in New York City fleeing conflicts. The US government created one of its first immigration centers that processed these immigrants. The same can be said in the Dominican Republic between mid-1941 and October 1944, they too received Jews in flight from the Holocaust in Central Europe, as Oscar Horst reported. Today, several nations from America to the Netherlands have seen an influx of people fleeing their homeland not on planned vacations. Jamaica recently also opened it arms to Haitian refugees feeling conflict despite its own internal issues.
Today, where is the Ellis Island hospitality? The US has always been a vessel, both land and sea, in time of need. However, decades later our polarization and intolerance that is now at an all-time high has created a deep struggle for acceptance. The browner you are upon arrival makes you more likely to be seen as an individual with diseases and a drain on social programs. Recently, up to 57, 000 children arrived from Honduras, Columbia, Guatemala, as reported. These young people fled to escape sexual violence and other inhumane treatment stemming from drug and gang related crimes. How they were treated, one would believe they were terrorists.
The only time migration seems proper was during the transatlantic slave period from the mid 1600 to late 1800 between the US and the Caribbean to build their wealth. On the other hand, as a defender in any sports game, each nation has to protect its borders. However, solving these issues requires tolerance.
Subconsciously we tend to watch from the sidelines because we are helpless. However, we should anchor our ideology that molded us to believe that it is their issues and not us. The only time it seems we tend to intervene, often it further divides, simply based on ancestral linkages; however, if the role of these people was changed, we could not have survived the region they escaped. Our own prejudice, inequality, racism, and poverty, some of us wanted to leave, but the blue waters, and walls makes our imagination a far-fetched idea.
Recently I wrote that Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian issue. I had imagined by now a drone strike would have landed — once these perpetrators were located. However, the atrocities have now been archived and the news channels have changed. Nigeria is not the only place where sexual assaults, intolerance, gun-violence, and human trafficking still go on.
Even though rape is illegal in the US and carries one of the toughest penalties, over twenty states have measures that prohibit men who rape their wives from being prosecuted in certain situation. How do we differ from some Third World and developing countries’ ideology where having multiple wives and women being treated second-class citizens?
Millions are still without basic health care. However, it seems our judicial bench has become politicians to further divide and isolate.
Recently, Inea Oh talked about the evaporation of several schools in our inner cities, and how it makes it difficult for poor students to have access to education. Although the measures used to close these schools were not caused by armed men, how do we differ from some several fundamentalist ideologies, which make basic education difficult despite our modernized practices?
These recent headlines are troubling, conflict volcanoes are erupting everywhere. However, we have to adapt, such as the Galápagos turtles, where one has a longer neck because its survival depends on eating from trees, and the other has a shorter neck as its survival depends from the grass it grazes. In the end, we are all turtles, and at some point, we have to come out for survival because everyone needs to live in a society free from violence, intolerance and with the possibility for prosperity.
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