Zombie America

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America is under racist assault. It has been this way for centuries—as though a cult of the undead, the empty dispossessed can only see the world in one way—Us vs Them. Purposeful demolition is the foremost objective of the undead—led by the First Family of Destruction. The zombie ideologues now get their news from the Family, its enablers, sycophants and its media amplifiers. There’s no more capacity for the undead to change than there is for a jellyfish to float against the currents. Yes, the undead are the jellyfish of the logo-sphere and they carrying a nasty sting. 

There’s no aspiration, no value, no commitment or connection to the collective, only to a their narrow view of entitlement.  There’s been no event, no sacred passage, no period of trial or transition, no foundation for their actions other than domination, jealousy, greed, anger and vengeance. There’s been no transition, no developmental progress, no entrée into a wiser way of seeing based in reality instead of wish-fulfillment.

Traditional initiation crosses a threshold to join the continuous stream of birthing and dying, with all the triumph and adversity, love and suffering in between. Emerging successfully from an initiation would mean walking with our feet on the ground and our heads in the clouds (not the reverse), holding a natural connection with our selves, others and with the land. 

Traditional cultures whose initiations were integral to the continuity of their communities prescribed these rites on the cusp of adulthood. They require a separation, a death, an awakening to essence (or soul), a time of rebirth and a return. An initiation is a second birth, having grown up dependent on family and community, the initiate is prepared to establish a separate life, to be guided by a core vision and to live out a full investment in the community according to that vision. 

Initiation is also a rooting experience, a gesture of coming home in the body-mind of the initiate. The body of the initiate is infused with the land and the spirits of the land. They become One.  This is the indigenous experience of initiation. Imagining a shred of anything similar in the American racist zombie cult is a laughable fantasy. We are diminished by all of it—for 400 years. We, as a nation, have been the undead, lost. Sadly, on the issue of race, we are as homeless as the ones sleeping in doorways.

I am of a people who, historically, had no land. The cultural lore is of temporary residence and history has tragically proven the validity of that outlook. We were not nomads, unless you count wandering in the desert for 40 years after escaping slavery in Egypt. That was the original initiation of the Jewish people. As the story goes, we received not only land after the struggle, but a rebirth in that land blessed by the God of that land. True or not, the history of the Jewish people has been one of being landless—until the establishment of the State of Israel. Overlooking the injustice of that creation for the moment (and all the suffering it has unleashed), that land remains the State of Israel in the hearts of many Jews whether they live there or not. 

Even so, tracing my own roots in the Jewish diaspora over the last 150 years, I can say I’m a citizen of America. I could even say I own land or I might trace my life in America for four generations, but I do not have a place in the same sense in which I describe it above. Rural Americans do; urban/suburban Americans don’t. As Stephen Jenkinson has said, we have learned to make do with portable gods. I personally have by conventional definition been a nomad. The deeper yearning to be of a place remains. 

My advantage, my privilege, is that I was not ripped from my ancestral home and transported against my will to this land. And beyond the mass kidnapping and enslavement, the American tradition of making others landless in the course of claiming this land continues to this day. This ideology is, under Trump particularly, delivered every day by the occupying force of police and ICE whose job it has become to enforce the message: you do not belong here. You have no claim to this place. It is ours and will never be yours. 

My personal bond connecting my history and cultural memory to Israel has been severed by the racist apartheid policies of that government. But in my adopted home, zombie white supremacy, an increasingly visible, dangerous and aggressive segment of this nation of white European immigrants, staking a claim to this land above anyone else, is now with rising brutality resuscitating and delivering a murderous message of ownership with a knee to the neck, further severing my bond to this land in the process.

Looking at the American republic, dangling as it is now between the life and death, the racist undead, led by the foremost zombie of our time, Donald Trump, remind us of an incomplete national initiation. There is nothing about Trump to suggest any history of formative, let alone transformative development, no true home, allegiance to anything or any distraction from singleminded and empty devotion to personal gain. And likewise, his most ardent followers feel entitled to demand and accept nothing less than unobstructed freedom of their personal choices without much suggestion of a commitment to anything other than that freedom–such as the common interest. 

America’s initiation on the issue of race is entering the encounter-with-death phase. Trump’s zombie cult, the uninitiated, reflect to the rest of us how severed we are from our ancestor’s bones. America is still way behind the curve of truly becoming Emma Lazarus’s home to the many. It’s primarily a home to the few whose dominance depends on successfully claiming—and selling—the idea of America as their exclusive home. The message delivered to communities of color are that they are temporary residents with shallow roots at best, at constant risk of being attacked, marginalized, incarcerated, exploited, oppressed, exported, discarded and finally, if necessary, killed. America is now being dragged into the mud of history by the undead. The world looks on in horror.

The racist undead have never been alive in the sense of recognizing interdependence as a primal reality of existence. Nor do they recognize or consider themselves beholden to any resident spirits. Even their god is homeless. Grounding to a place and to all people is not embedded in modern American culture; thus, no common vision exists of what it means to live in the full flower of diversity we represent. Our roots are too shallow; our gods are foreign. We are driven by the ideology of self-interest. And if Trump’s ascendance is any indication, the zombies are winning.

What is so disturbing and ironic in these times is that those who claim to be Most American, the ones claiming ownership and to being the ‘true’ keepers of the only legitimate version of America, the ones lugging automatic weapons into statehouses, to polling places and into the street proclaiming their ‘freedom,’ the ones acting least like they believe in the promise of this nation, have the least invested in making sure all people share and contribute to the struggle of thriving together, most likely because it is they themselves who have been hollowed out and discarded by the America they claim to love. They are our zombie chickens coming home to roost, leaning into the nihilism of the chief zombie, Donald Trump.

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