By Mike Indursky
We have a brand new administration and with it comes a renewed sense of hope and promise. However, we cannot rely solely on optimism and must do the hard work of looking back at last year and use this “2020 hindsight” to ensure we learn from our mistakes so that 2021 is indeed a great year for us individually and as a country. 2021 is the year to harmonize.
Yes, we all know 2020 was a crazy, challenging, upsetting year. In short, was a toxic year. But the toxicity wasn’t new. It’s that we were first just seeing it, glaringly, from so many directions and dimensions, each interacting with and compounding one another, all at the same time. It manifested in a polarized nation of left vs. right, black vs. white, science vs. fiction, rich vs. poor, man vs. planet and more recently citizens vs. government.
This is the toxicity of exploitation. A history of arrogant, hateful, zero-sum “I win, you lose” thinking that has led to systemic imbalances and breakdowns in our world and has left us in cultural, financial and environmental shambles. In 2020, the toxicity exploded into a conflagration of divisiveness and devastation the likes we have never so broadly seen and is eating away at our chances for sustainability – long-term survival.
The historic exploitation of Blacks, since the days they were forcibly pulled from their homelands as slaves for whites, has led to a toxic scar on the people we exploited and on the country who exploited them. The gross, inhumane inequality led to a prejudice that seemingly can’t go away, and certainly not fast enough. Despite amendments and laws that seemingly made Blacks “equal,” the veneer and objective of “equality” is shattered and violently proved wrong every day, on every street, in every office, in every city, with every look, by every person. How many people do have to die? Last year, we sadly hit that number. So “enough was enough” and Black Lives Matter.
We’ve been exploiting the environment pretty much since we began to walk and we’re now completely disconnected from any semblance of considering ourselves and nature as equally important parts of the biosphere. It’s all about GDP and the earth has become our store shelf and sewer in one. We taketh and we throweth away and we’re certainly not giveth-ing anything back. We consume beyond our needs and keep up with that demand by continuously plundering and poisoning our resources and, as a result, systematically destroy these precious natural balances and ecosystems. So, in 2020 we faced the deadly irony of harmful production to satisfy outrageous consumption that poisoned the planet, that compromised our health, that made us susceptible to a disease caused exclusively by the environmental breakdown we caused. Hello, Covid-19.
Our working class has been exploited from the day man realized he could make more money having men work for him rather than working himself. With the tax system designed to help the rich at the expense of the poor, our income disparity is at its historic greatest with obscene wealth on the one hand and abject poverty with so many struggling to live on a daily basis on the other.
Throughout 2020 we heard of the term “systemic” being linked to racism which is both painfully obvious and true. “The system” has clearly pitted black vs. white. But the system also pitted GDP vs. the environment. Never have we seen elected officials including presidents like Trump and Bolsonaro who fundamentally believe that “if it’s good for the environment, it’s bad for business, so, screw the environment.” And the system rewards the rich vs. poor. The billionaire tax cut was supposed to have money “trickle down,” but the only thing that’s trickling down is urine into a factory worker’s empty Gatorade bottle. And with all this comes anger and resentment. And if you listen to the right people, and consume the right media, your anger will be directed towards anyone. Anyone, that is, other than those politicians and the people who own that media.
The answer is harmony. If last year taught us anything, it’s the damage done from a nation divided, a nation where its people are at each other’s throats. When hate becomes such a dominant emotion, when families and friendships end over discussions on these issues, when people’s lives are being threatened for simply doing their jobs or voicing their opinions, you’ve got a problem. No, we have got a problem. And while there have been countless heroes in 2020, like our frontline workers who put their lives on the line every day, 2020 will go down as the one of the worst, most pathetic and dysfunctional years in our nation’s history.
When you ask Americans when they were most proud of being an American, the number one answer would most likely be the days, weeks and months following 9/11. In those days, we, the people, became one. We wept together and held each other tight, blind to anything other than that person being a beautiful soul and a fellow American. All those differences meant nothing because that kind of terrorism wasn’t against a segment of society – it was against America. We loved each other and we were loved and supported by countries around the world. Individually and collectively, we were at our very best. We were strong. And because our government was united, it helped keep us united.
However, as they say, “fish stinks from the head” and we can no longer have political leaders and media owners sowing the seeds of discontent to reap selfish gains, for there’s no way we can be united and strong. And we must be united because “United we Stand, Divided we Fall.” From the Bible to the Revolutionary War, to the Civil War, on our flags and in our schools, it’s an immutable law and uniquely American precept. We’ve lost it, and in 2021 we must bring it back.
It’s time to unify. More importantly, it’s time to harmonize. Unity is a great ideal and is easier to obtain when when you’re more similar than not. But the melting pot that is the USA is very different, with a diversity that has both provided great opportunity and caused great challenge. Our unity, therefore, needs to come from the enormous riches of this diversity and be used to create a unique, powerful, American brand of unity called “harmony”.
First, we must harmonize with each other as people. We need to lead with love and that takes strength and courage. We must find that balance of not seeing color or religion and at the same time appreciating and admiring the differences we do have. We must harmonize with our environment. Only when the environment is healthy can we be healthy – as long as we breathe its air, eat its food and drink its water. Because as the environment is compromised, so is our well-being. As part, we need to harmonize with the actuality that it is better, not worse, for the economy to have a better environment, from the cost of medical care, to the great financial opportunities in renewable energy. And we must narrow the income disparity and no longer count on “the kindness of (rich) strangers,” and directly help and allow the less fortunate to be able to enrich their own lives.
We need to use this 2020 hindsight to ensure a better and more sustainable 2021. Will there be sacrifices? Certainly. But our way of living is simply not sustainable and the benefits we’ll gain from true equality, lowering consumption, having better environmental alternatives, and narrowing income disparity will pay off big-time financially, physically, in mental well-being and environmentally. 2021 needs to be the year of harmony with each other and the planet and we need to be conscious of it in virtually every waking moment. And as the benefits from doing this come to light, our conversations will turn from “who will not replace us” but “why every country wants to be more like us.”
CEO, HEAR ME RAW