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Monday, June 15, 2015

Chris Hedges: prophet or realist on what we want?

Do not use without permission.
A lot of folks want justice and wear their feelings on their chests at peaceful protest vigil for Nicholas Thomas in Smyrna, Ga.
I received an email wanting me to respond to an article written about Chris Hedges. Chris Hedges is the author of “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” and he recently made his views known in an interview with Salon. Chris Hedges has declared that we are in a "revolutionary moment." Is Hedges a prophet or just a traditional realist documenting the inevitable? Let's take a closer look at Hedges to ascertain where his premonitions lie.

Hedges has been trained well by elitist schools, traditional media, and Christian doctrine.  Here are bullets from  his life.
  • born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont in 1956, the son of a Presbyterian minister
  • grew up in rural Schoharie County, New York and graduated from Loomis Chaffee School, a private boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut
  • founded an underground newspaper at the school that was banned by the administration and led to him being put on probation
  • received B.A. in English Literature, Colgate University
  • earned Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, under James Luther Adams
  • spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, reported from more than 50 countries
  • worked for Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, the Dallas Morning News, and the New York Times - foreign correspondent for 15 years
  • awarded 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism along with a team of reporters from NY Times
  • senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City
  • taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Princeton University
  • awarded honorary doctorate in May 2009 from the Unitarian Universalist seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, California
  • speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, and studied Latin and Ancient Greek at Harvard
  • married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong, father of four, lives in Princeton, N.J.
  • blackballed by Univ. of Pennsylvania after likening ISIS to Israel in 2014
  • teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey - probably doing research for next book
Now, as to what I think about this Chris Hedges. I agree with Hedges that we are living in a moment. I don't know whether it is "revolutionary" moment or not because I don't see a lot of vision or messaging coming from the masses unless you want to count social media. 

Here's what I do see:
  • nightly news showing the same stories taken off police radio scanners and financed by major corporations
  • people living and dying in vain and wasting time instead of dealing with climate change or coming up with inventions to improve the human condition
  • excessive force leading to death and talk about ending racism
  • frustrated, mad people wondering if the next administration change will lead to them losing their health insurance, jobs, home, self-respect, and security and whether their vote will actually be counted
  • working people  having quality of life issues because they can't make a living wage
Here's what I'm feeling - powerlessness!

A "revolutionary moment" would relate to a sudden political or scientific change that has a major impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor. This could also include inventions and art and could be abrupt or gradual. It seems that in our country, there recently has been a shift in global policing morphed into local use of excessive force. Then there's government and social condolences on sex and marriage issues. An increase in the minimum wage will be gradual, while some states are legalizing marijuana, making millionaires of some while convicts guilty of previous drug charges languish behind bars.

My husband and I went to a public "change" community meeting the other night with only seven folks in attendance. One appeared to be a ten-year- old boy. The others were "activists." The leader of the group, according to my Internet research,  converted to Islam after getting into felonious trouble with the law. Another cared to act like she knew me, but mispronounced my name. A young girl said she was not going to ask folks in power to help her, but she was going to make "change" herself using her God-given power. My husband asked her a very poignant question: You are going to "change" to what? Therein lies the global agenda we face as humans on Planet Earth.

"Gramsci calls interregnum, this period where the ideas that buttress the old ruling elite no longer hold sway, but we haven’t articulated something to take its place," says Chris Hedges.

What kind of changes are needed?
"Change" became a big buzz word with the candidacy of President Barack Obama, but change as far as ending racism goes has not taken place. For one thing, it is too ingrained into  all systems of activity around the globe.

Non-white people living in asset rich nations are seen as the poorest, most ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-educated, and ill-necessary people on the planet. No one wants to be "Black" really, except a white president of the NAACP and a US president mothered by a white woman. What a dicotomy!

Where would I like to see the most change? A positive moral change that supports instead of kills heroes.
  • An end to all homicidal death or death based on a disease or condition that can be cured, no matter how much the cost
  • Churches that promote economic status of parishioners instead of building projects and minister perks
  • Ending worry about losing your home because you don't have a good paying job, income, or assets
And yes, ending poverty, mental illness, massive incarceration, and total disregard for human life.  Make plots for the next episode of American Greed a thing of the past because a savior has defeated the anti-Christ.

What connotes human fallback? Misunderstanding what caused the death of the dinosaurs, fall of Rome, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, the Civil Rights Era, Arab Spring,  Iran/Contra, Iraq/Afghanistan War, the Fall of Wall street. What really happened globally in 1848?

Change is always happening, my friend. My hair color is changing at the roots. Gas prices are spiking upward. Police are killing more people, and more people are being transgendered behind bars. Heroes are stabbed on TV episode season finales while robot police try to maintain their humanity. Drought is increasing though" they" say there's no climate change. It's all on screens and tablets and IS reality. Food prices are off the chain, and it's illegal to raise chickens and a garden in my subdivision! Banks are offering low interest loans but no interest on my savings account which promotes borrowing, not thrift. All kinds of non-profits are getting people to work for free while thrift stores are begging for donations.

We don't need a dialogue, we need a national survey when those census takers go out, not just to ask those NUMBER questions, but fundamentally what U.S. citizens want. And I bet CHANGE is not a priority. What we want is STABILITY - stable jobs, affordable health care, lower utility and housing prices, hope for the future.

Safety and non-vain living is what we want - not to be scared when a cop car drives past us on the street. Listening to parents of those killed by police, one theme emerges: that their loved ones should not have died in vain.

A revolution can happen violently or in opposition to violence.  But we must get better compared to what? Everyone's life must count for something that the Creator envisioned. It's up to us to find out His plan and make it happen which could be akin to madness.

From the mouth of Hedges: "I think that sublime madness — James Baldwin writes it’s not so much that [revolutionaries] have a vision, it’s that they are possessed by it. I think that’s right. They are often difficult, eccentric personalities by nature, because they are stepping out front to confront a system of power [in a way that is] almost a kind of a form of suicide. But in moments of extremity, these rebels are absolutely key; and that you can’t pull off seismic change without them."

Hedges says that, "... every 28 hours, a person of color, usually a poor person of color, being killed with lethal force — and, of course, in most of these cases they are unarmed. So people march in the streets and people protest; and yet the killings don’t stop. Even when they are captured on video. I mean we have videos of people being murdered by the police and the police walk away. This is symptomatic of a state that is ossified and can no longer respond rationally to what is happening to the citizenry, because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power.

Do not use without permission.
People at JusticeforNicholas Vigil, Smyrna, Ga.
"...What do you think is the most likely way that the people will respond to living in these conditions? That is the big unknown. When it will come is unknown. What is it that will trigger it is unknown...and it’s usually something moments of extremity, these rebels are absolutely key; and that you can’t pull off seismic change without them."

"...If things unravel [in the U.S.], our backlash may very well be a rightwing backlash — a very frightening rightwing backlash...We don’t even have the language to describe the class warfare that is being unleashed upon us by this tiny, rapacious, oligarchic elite. But we on the left are very disorganized, unfocused, and without resources.

"...if you were overly optimistic, it could get you killed. You really tried to read the landscape as astutely as you could and then take calculated risks based on the reality around you, or at least on the reality insofar as you could interpret it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing within human nature to argue that we won’t go down the ways other civilizations have gone down. The difference is now, of course, that when we go down, the whole planet is going to go with us.

"By standing up, you keep alive another narrative. It’s one of the ironic points of life. That, for me, is what provides hope; and if you are not there, there is no hope at all."

There's a song they still sing in church:
"If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, how they're travelling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain...
If I can do my duty, as a good man ought,
If I can bring back beauty, to a world up wrought,
If I can spread love's message, as the Master taught,
Then my living shall not be in vain."

World, try to live by that and you will truly have a revolution.

Read full article re: Chris Hedges at:

Now, on to read Hedges book to see if my opinion changes. "Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt"  -


  1. TC: Tomi, this is great give yourself a standing ovation; I also will give you one!!!

  2. Simply brilliant . I agree with you complete. We need change in whatever form it may come in.


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