Recent events at the US Capitol compel me to write a reflection on the journey to the shining city on a hill. Those of us who have lived through an insurrection at least once, could probably point out exactly what would have happened at the US Capitol if the attempt to overthrow the United States government had succeeded, but I find that my focus is on how my experiences in several coup d’etats give me an insight into the politics of our humanity.
I grew up in Ghana, on the West Coast of Africa, and I interestingly associate with a political structure that is different from that of most nations. Our local government is made up tribal kingdoms with royal courts, ancestry, and lineage. Our national government is representative of a previously colonized system, still facing challenges of belonging to a foreign ideology and principles. In between, we have had our fair share of political success stories, with infusion of upheavals including several military coup d’états, often backed by Western governments!
In 1966, we, as a nation, experienced the first overthrow of our national government by the military. I know firsthand what it feels like to experience fear, uncertainty, change in norms, abuse of power, and unjustified deaths! Unfortunately, I experienced this too many times! By age 21, the government had changed hands three times! The consequences of the abrupt changes also exposed us to harsh realities, where former leaders were imprisoned, some killed in home invasions, and others, including male and female judges, were killed by firing squads ordered by the new government!
For a very spiritual nation, most people suffered deeply from these traumatic events. During this time, there was an exodus of people, including me, leaving the country to what might have seemed to be a more peaceful terrain, where we could live out our aspirations, or at least live freely. Colonialism also taught us not to trust our own systems, and with the excavation of wealth to these external colonial powers, there was no other choice but to leave. The brain drain was impactful, and typically countries that have denied their citizens the “right freedoms” experience this same exodus to this day. While many western countries benefit from these exits, there’s no country on this planet that benefits more than the United States! For centuries, the US has drawn some of the best people from all over the world. While the politics of the day attempts to dehumanize and malign immigrants, this country relies on the influx of people from all over the world to build on its human resources. These immigrants keep the engine of the system running. It is no accident that this occurs. For starters, the United States has effectively and always showcased:
- Firstly (and adeptly), the “shining city on the hill”; that all men are created equal, and that any human being can envision a life of success, justice, and peace;
- Secondly, the constitution has laid out the strongest foundation of balance, where power resides in the hands of the people;
- Thirdly, flexibilities built into the system allow true visioning of the future, which consequently opens up a path and journey to that shining city on the hill.
Until recently, the equity in the system has moved so steeply to the few at the top of the chain, ultimately creating seismic shifts and discontent in our state of affairs. It is “we versus them,” on race, the economy, the dictum of morality, and cynicism. Politicians are continually stirring the pot, even to the extent of encouraging the disadvantaged to vote against their own interests, consequently creating this state of explosion.
We were bound to arrive at this juncture. Now, the flaws of the United States have catapulted into the world’s view. We can’t hide the raw truth about who we are as a nation, as a people anymore. The extreme yins and yangs of hatred and love; of greed and charity; of injustice and peace; of war and harmony permeate the air of this nation. History tells us that all empires implode from within, especially when equity is so slanted, causing disharmony.
There’s an African proverb that says: “Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” This proverb teaches us that the hunter(s) will one day have to come to terms with the truth. The truth will not sustain the current state of imbalance. The lion or lioness is free to tell his/her side of the story, and humanity is ready to hear it, and be open to experiencing new levels of wholeness.
The shining city on the hill exists. It exists in the Divine mind and therefore in our consciousness. The journey lives within our hearts, consequently manifesting as an aspiration. We acknowledge the freedoms that this idealism and experiment afford, and for anyone who desires to journey to this place, can do so without hindrance or prejudice. Those who wish to claim ownership of this aspiration as theirs alone are misguided, because anything that exists in the Divine mind is for all humanity.
The politics of our inhumanity, atrocities, and callousness are shifting. They have to! After the year we have been through—a year of pain, separation, illness and death, we are called to foster in a new era of justice, of peace and love. And we are all in this together!
The only virtue that would sustain a new earth is the ability to see each other as the Divine sees us. We have to see in ourselves the reflection of the Divine, and we have to set a course of action that only holds peace, justice, harmony, and love for all! After all, we are all headed to the shining city on the hill, beyond materiality, and where the Divine lives.