Tragedy in Paris: A Lesson from Michael Jackson

From under the tragic stupor of the horrors unleashed in Paris, we are urgently ushered to foregone conclusions. The cheerleaders for maintaining the status quo work overtime to ensure blame’s proper placement and the enemy’s clear identification.

Every minute detail will be breathlessly dissected to write the history of now. The gallingly predictable might-makes-right, crime-and-punishment, eye-for-an-eye narratives that buttress all this madness are making their play for hearts and minds.

I am determined to not be counted among the unfortunate dupes of this insidious ruse. Above all, I wish to shout-out humanity, and to join the chorus of an alternative, hopeful narrative, one that we must write. As part of the soundtrack to this appeal to the best humanity has to offer, I submit Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”:

Imagine a better world in the new year…

As we enter the new year, and cross the threshold of what’s to come, talk of resolutions abounds. Yearnings to be better, do better, and live better find their manifestation in personal goals for the future. While this is an important exercise in self-reflection and (hopefully) self-actualization, nevertheless we should also cast our gaze to a more distant, heroic horizon. We should embrace the spirit of John Lennon’s timeless anthem Imagine: let’s dare to dream of a better world for all humanity.

What might a better world entail? Well… what’s life like for our fellow human beings around the globe? What did their 2013 bring, and what hopes do they hold for 2014? Let’s look to our neighbors in Mexico, where the constitution has just been re-written after 75 years to allow international penetration into the oil sector. This was one of the last remaining sovereign sectors of Mexico’s economy. What kind of hope does 2014 hold, then, for our neighbors to the south?

There’s a beautiful and moving song by the Puerto Rican hip hop group Calle 13 entitled Latinoamerica The chorus declares:
“You cannot buy the wind,
you cannot buy the sun,
you cannot buy the rain,
you cannot buy the heat,
you cannot buy the clouds,
you cannot buy the colors,
you cannot buy my happiness,
you cannot buy my pain.”

In short, humanity and the planet are not for sale. And yet, capitalism insists on turning a profit off of them, off of us. We cannot accept the notion that the best we can hope for in the new year is simply some personal gain. Let’s set our aspirations beyond our selves… and imagine a better world. Yeah, I’m a dreamer… and I’m not the only one. I hope you’ll join us.