In America, Mexico, and Burma
On March 4, 1861, Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address to the nation...a badly divided nation. South Carolina had withdrawn from the Union on December 20, 1860, which was followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgian Louisiana, and Texas prior to Lincoln’s inauguration. However, three months later, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee left.
Into the bubbling cauldron of slavery and succession, Lincoln made this very telling comment in his address to America:
Lincoln looked out from the Capitol as he addressed a troubled America. Despite the chaos of the time, he enunciated his personal faith about our country. He believed that we were in reality not enemies but friends. Additionally, he wanted America to listen to its past. He uttered, “The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched...by the better angels of our nature.” Lincoln said that the choice was to harken back to a better time and avoid killing each other due to the lesser angels of our nature. Interestingly, a century later, I started college in 1961 and graduated in 1965, which were almost to the exact dates for the beginning and the end of the Civil War.
Tragically, my four years in college followed by graduate school were filled with another war within our nation due to Jim Crow, segregation, lynching of blacks, the KKK, and especially the lesser angels. Many of these lesser angels were racist politicians or the police in the South during the 60s. George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Lester Maddox, Bull Connors, Jesse Helms, William Fulbright, John Stennis, Strom Thurmond, et al were the sub-humans constructing a legacy about who they were, which will be remembered until the last days of time itself.
Nevertheless, everyone during the civil rights movement knew that we would overcome, which was due to “the better angels of our nature.” Ask anyone who marched and protested back in the 60s. We were sure that positive changes would occur...not tomorrow but in the very near future.
Now, let’s move our setting from America to Mexico. Troy Seals and Eddie Setser wrote the lyrics of Seven Spanish Angels, which Willie Nelson turned into a hit in 1984.
Seven Spanish Angels is a song about a relationship between two Mexican lovers who were hunted down by some Texans “in the valley of the gun.” The Mexican guy said to his girlfriend, “If they take me back to Texas / They won't take me back alive.” In response to his being killed, she acted.
Despite ethnic racism, there are those in all countries who possess “the better angels of our nature.” They act, because they are better than the lesser angels. They were mentored by Lincoln and, in turn, mentored others.
We have moved from America to Mexico; our next journey is to Burma. Nearly four years ago, I went to Burma in the hopes of interviewing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. While I was not able to contact her, Min Ko Naing invited me to a protest rally at Sule Pagoda, which took place within walking distance of my hotel in Yangon. This protest rally took place on their Independence Day. There I was on January 4 at a human rights protest rally in a military dictatorship.
While I wandered around the crowd, my mind returned to the States in the 60s. Then I returned to the present-day protest in Yangon. I have no ability to understand any words in the Burmese language. Therefore, I merely moved around in the crowd watching the locals listening to speeches.
Therefore, I just watched the faces of the protesters. Even though I couldn’t translate a single Burmese word, my mind heard clearly the civil rights’ anthem of decades ago in America, We Shall Overcome. There I was in a small crowd of local Burmese who were demonstrating for human rights against the military, and they believed that they would overcome tyranny.
We now are back in the States having journeyed to other countries during this essay. We now are in the present. After Charlottesville, Donald the Dumb has redefined the major social issues of America like the earlier lesser angels, Wallace, et al. First, it was Donald the Dumb’s birtherism issue. Then he got into dissing Mexicans as rapists, Mexican-American judges, building a wall, banning Mexicans and Muslims, etc.
Racism doesn’t change unless people change. Donald the Dumb won’t change. He is content to build a legacy that will be remembered until the end of time...a legacy as a racist. However, allow me to share with you an insight that I have. Alea iacta est (the die is cast). Trump’s days as our fake president are closing in on him. The clock is ticking. The generals and admirals have addressed racism publicly, and the CEO’s have quit his two manufacturing councils as a direct response to Donald the Dumb’s racist statements about the Charlottesville situation. Donald the Dumb has dug himself deeper and deeper into a hole from which only impeachment will free him.
Now, do me a favor. Look at the photo below. What do you see in Donald the Dumb’s eyes?