If I want to speak to the Masters of this System and this Mindset of American Capitalism and Racism, this idea that bigger is always better, and that too much is never enough, this idea that has become a threat to American Democracy and to Life itself, what to speak of Liberty and Happiness; what can I say?
…For it is clear that our educators need to be educated, as education for everyone at every level is a natural part of life, from which, being themselves at the pinnacles of power in our society, our leaders may feel capable of recusing themselves.
But Life encompasses All of us, and presents us all… with at least these four problems… birth, death, disease and old age.
Almost every person of color born into the present world system has the advantage of being an educated-from-birth multiculturalist. They, we, by-and-large, have had to be so, just to survive. Every person with white skin has a high likelihood of becoming a multiculturalist only by choice. And those that have chosen to become so are great and enlightened souls. However the greater the wealth or power or desire for such into which some are born, the less likely they may be inclined to truly become educated world citizens.
And that is the is the problem faced by the leaders of our present system; there is a huge gap in their education, and in their emotional and rational maturity; yet they do not seem to know that such a gap exists. And thus they seem to feel that they are actually “doing the right thing” in their “plans for progress”, and their attempts to ignore the multicultural world reality represented by the rest of us.
So I must say to our leaders, respectfully, that their material accumulations of wealth, influence and power, which they use incessantly to deny multiculturalism and other ‘natural’ realities, have not ever in any way solved the basic problems of life …for birth, death, disease and old age continue unchecked, even in the “richest” country on Earth.
When I came to be educated at Columbia in 1965, I was looking for the keys to life. More than for a livelihood, I was seeking a philosophical understanding that would sustain and enrich my life.
Life is about relationships, and not about accumulation. All material and egoistic accumulations must be surrendered at the end of our time, individually and collectively, on the planet. All relationships that were good, will be held warmly, as we step through that door, for such things need not ever be surrendered. Love, contentment, the emotional quality of our life, is the only thing that can support or strengthen us when we face the inevitable death, disease, or old age, which follow our birth into this life.
Nor can anyone ever insure, for themselves or their loved ones, any solution to these basic problems by the accumulation of material wealth, power or prestige.
So I would say, wake up to reality! Your policies and mind set of accumulation and growth are bringing the entire system of Nature into chaos. This Nature, so carefully balanced and created to support all life on the planet has finally grown impatient with the willful and stubborn nature of the emotionally immature, and intransigent leaders of the current world system.
There are no longer any butterflies in the Alps. Thousands of animal and plant species are surrendering to extinction on an almost weekly basis in places like Australia and South America, what to speak of our own land now facing floods and droughts and natural catastrophes in unprecedented proportions.
If you cannot, or will not hear the voices of the majority of humanity, then Nature Itself is coming to deal with you, and with all of us.
The expansion plans of the University were and are a manifestation of the materialistic mindset that more is better. More is only better when it means more spirit, more love, more understanding, more human kindness.
As the educational arm of an out-of-control Capitalist mindset, it is the University that must be at the fulcrum of change. This can only happen if you… Educational “leaders” listen to your students and give them what they came for… the keys to life, and not just the keys to a car… for life.
This is finally humanity at the crossroads. Science first sounded the alarm almost 40 years ago in the early seventies. Scientists are again raising what may be the final alarm at the conference of nations on world Climate changes in Bali. We, lead by You, may actually not get another chance to get it right.
Learn what every uprising generation has tried to tell you, probably at least every 40 years, since the beginning of time. We Are One. The students today are probably even more eloquent than we were at it. They know that their task is to educate you, and through hunger strikes and other meaningful inspirational actions they confront you with your own denials of humanity, and your meaningless and hurtful expansions of your own power, as we tried to do in 1968.
Wake up, Wake up, Wake up… for Nature Herself is growing tired of you.
Thank you, for giving me this past 10 minutes…of your time.
Rashid Parker (Harold Kent Parker – Columbia College ‘69)
Photographer, Writer, Speaker, Civil Servant