America as the beacon of human rights and dignity is but a
dream yet to be realized. While the dream has lain dormant, amoral opportunists
have busily unleashed their nightmare on billions of human beings. And all the
while they have trumpeted the many virtues of the United States as a Christian
There are many admirable aspects to our country, but these
are often over-shadowed by the actions of the Machiavellian, ruthless, and
avaricious individuals who have long dominated the social, economic, religious,
and political institutions comprising the power structure United States of
America. While a nation is an abstraction encompassing many aspects and
dynamics (i.e. its people, culture, government, resources, etc.) that are in a
constant state of flux, there are at least four elements of the United States
which have remained relatively consistent throughout much of its history:
1. A wealthy White patriarchy has monopolized most of the
power and wealth.
2. An economic system resting on the pillars of greed and
self-interest has driven the United States to enslave a race of human beings,
commit genocide against another, and to commit virtually innumerable crimes
against humanity in the pursuit of growth and profit.
3. Disseminating powerful propagandistic messages through a
corporate-owned media and a public school system designed from the top down to
produce obedient consumers and workers, the ruling elite in the United States
has convinced generations of citizens that their nation is a moral icon and
that American Exceptionalism justifies the slaughter of millions of innocents.
4. Many in the United States assert that the United States
is a Christian nation. �Christianizing� the �heathen� Native Americans and the
Filipino �savages� provided a rationalization for annihilating millions of
Self-righteous hypocrisy and the banner of Christianity have
been staples of the ruling elite in the United States as they have led their
followers on a 200 year spree of economic and geographic expansion at the
expense of those unfortunate enough to stand in their way. Exemplifying their
latest crusade, in October 2003, newly appointed undersecretary of defense for
intelligence Lt. General William Boykin emphatically proclaimed that
fundamentalist Muslims hated the United States �because we�re a Christian
nation, because our foundation and roots are Judeo-Christian . . . and the
enemy is a guy named Satan�
Given that the psyche of most Americans has been battered
with the notion that our country was founded by Christians intending to form a
Christian nation, and that many of those besieged psyches have acquiesced and
accepted this assertion as dogmatic truth, perhaps an analysis of the founder
of Christianity would be instructive.
Jesus Christ. Was he deity, man, or myth? The answer to that
question depends on one�s point of view. Christians embrace him as the son of
God and a member of the Holy Trinity. Followers of Islam consider him to be a
prophet and holy man who performed miracles, but do not believe in his
divinity. Some of us in the �pagan� realm simply view him as an inspirational
moral leader. Others doubt that Christ even existed.
Whether he was god, exceptional human or legend, almost all
of our knowledge about Jesus Christ is derived from the synoptic gospels of
Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And these three books of the Bible do reveal a story
of a remarkable being.
Jesus was a radical agitator and social outcast who challenged
the establishment of his day. A carpenter by trade, Christ would have been
considered one of the working poor. As is common knowledge, he defied the
Sanhedrin�s insistence on strict adherence to religious law to the extent that
they eventually saw to his crucifixion.
In his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus was stigmatized as a
bastard and shunned as the son of an adulteress. Joseph is believed to have
adopted him, but that apparently did little to alleviate the situation. Jesus
eventually embraced a new �family� in the sect that followed John the Baptist.
Jewish leaders, whose power was largely dependent upon their Roman occupiers,
came to view John as a serious threat as he preached loyalty to God over
Caesar. Jesus� equally tenacious commitment to placing the will of God above
that of a political leader ultimately led him to martyrdom too. Both men
represented serious threats to the social order and it was virtually inevitable
that the ruling class would kill them.
Aside from the fact that he claimed to be the Messiah and
seriously threatened their authority, the Pharisees feared and hated Jesus
because he developed such a mass following throughout much of Galilee during
his three-year ministry. He won hearts and minds with his messages of
redemption and compassion. Whether it was through the placebo effect,
alleviation of psychosomatic illnesses, or true divine intervention, Jesus
performed many miraculous cures and exorcisms. Encouraging his considerable
throng of followers to follow the spirit rather than the letter of the law and
asserting corruption in the Temples, Jesus demonstrated that he was an
anarchist capable of initiating a successful rebellion against the status quo.
Excepting his martyrdom, perhaps his crowning achievement as
a spiritual leader was the Sermon on the Mount. As he spoke, he shocked his
listeners with the Beatitudes in which he defined the blessed in ways that
defied orthodoxy. According to Christ and his Beatitudes, the blessed and the
inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven include mourners, the hungry, the
persecuted, the merciful, the meek, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, and
Note that his criteria for blessedness did not encompass the
aspects of humanity which Americans have been programmed to worship, including
winning; accumulating wealth; attaining power; being thin, youthful and
beautiful; succeeding; heterosexuality; regular attendance of church; being
Caucasian; and patriotism.
Besides the Beatitudes, Jesus Christ gave us several other
gems of moral wisdom. His �turn the other cheek� metaphor inspired the powerful
non-violent spiritual leadership of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The Golden
Rule has acted as a cornerstone of civilized behavior. And Christ�s hyperbole
concerning rich men, camels and eyes of needles has served as a largely
unheeded warning about greed and the accumulation of excessive wealth.
Were Jesus Christ incarnate today and living in America,
what would he think of a nation inhabited by many who claim to be followers of
the spiritual movement he founded? And how would the ruling elite of the United
States receive him?
Imagine this scenario:
Jesus Christ returns to Earth as he was portrayed in the
Gospels at the height of his ministry. Geographically, his manifestation occurs
in a blighted urban core in a large American city. Despite his humanity, he is
endowed with omniscience and omnipotence. But he will not use them to change
the course of humankind. He is here to act as a mortal agent of change.
Jesus� initial reaction to the knowledge flooding his mind
and the assault to his senses is a catatonic state. Horror at the rapacious and
avaricious nature of the United States� social order overwhelms his
Shaking off the initial shock, he succumbs to a wave of
uncontrollable nausea. Thoughts of institutionalized racism, the wealth chasm,
and the military industrial complex evoke a burst of primal and toxic hatred.
He retches violently.
Having purged his loathing, Jesus sits back and rests
quietly on a soiled mattress someone had dragged into the garbage strewn alley
where he finds himself.
Surrounded by broken bottles, hypodermic needles, and used
prophylactics containing their repulsive spent payloads, Christ falls into a
deep state of reflection which is unhindered by the scurrying sounds of rats
and roaches. As he contemplates the many horrific atrocities committed in his
name, a resident of the alley brushes past him in a drunken stupor, urinates in
his pants and promptly passes out.
A country claiming to practice his spirituality spends $600
billion a year on its behemoth murder machine while over two million of its own
people live on the street and eat from dumpsters. Rage surges through Jesus�
being. He grabs a chunk of broken brick, hurls it with abandon, and shatters
what is left of a broken window. The thought that his ministry and martyrdom
had spawned such inhumanity infuriated him.
Regaining his calm and composure, Jesus resumes his
What is this abomination called Capitalism? Permeating nearly
every facet of the United States (including his churches), exploiting human
beings and the Earth, demanding perpetual war, and ensuring the comfort of a
few through the suffering of the many, Capitalism is a cancer that reduces its
blind adherents to empty, soulless shells.
Greed is good? Had his flock truly strayed so far that they
enshrined selfishness, mean-spiritedness, ruthless competitive instincts, and
avarice as virtues? What chance would his message of compassion and peace have
competing with the clever propaganda and allure of immediate gratification
purveyed by the likes of Fox, McDonald�s, Wal-Mart, and Rush Limbaugh?
Grief-stricken, he cries in despair for the Native
Americans, Black Americans, and the tens of millions of victims of the imperialist
United States foreign policy in Latin America, Africa, the Philippines,
Vietnam, Iraq, and Palestine. He smiles briefly at the thought of Judea and
Galilee and feels a twinge of home-sickness. Joy and nostalgia are short-lived
as thoughts of Palestinian suffering at the hands of the merciless Israeli
government quickly intrude on his nostalgic reminiscence.
It perplexes him that the United States has not lived up to
the rich promise spawned by the American Revolution that broke the shackles of
tyranny against tremendous odds. Early Americans had created a phenomenal
instrument with which to govern a nation when they wrote the Constitution. They
even included a mechanism to amend its inherent flaws (i.e. the legalization of
slavery). But despite the valiant struggle of many poor, working class, and
minority Americans, the de facto tyranny of wealthy elitists has endured.
Jesus concludes that many Americans were amongst the blessed
he had enumerated in the Sermon on the Mount and that many Americans would
enter his Kingdom. Yet he agonizes over those millions who had succumbed to the
propaganda and sold their souls for the hollow rewards offered by the �American
Way.� Torment consumes him as he realizes that conspicuous consumption,
aggressive militarism, overt and covert racism, abject inhumanity, torture,
theft of land and resources, corruption, �win at all cost,� survival of the
fittest, and pathological self-absorption are the hallmarks of the social and
political systems of the United States. Jesus marvels that so many people would
fall prey to such obvious spiritual cancers.
Limping severely, a one-armed man with a very bad
prosthesis, matted gray hair, and a badly tattered Army jacket flops himself
onto the mattress next to Jesus. He smells of alcohol and stale urine. Vacant
eyes transfixed on the alley wall before him, he mutters unintelligibly as he
pulls a rancid-smelling piece of meat from his pocket and begins gingerly
munching with the remaining stumps of his severely decayed teeth.
Christ feels overwhelmed with compassion and embraces the
man. There is little response, but he does feel a slight shudder. This coupled
with the fact that the man does not reject the embrace satisfies Jesus that at
some level of his being, the hapless itinerant welcomes human contact and
kindness. Jesus realizes that this man had answered America�s call to �fight
for his country� in Vietnam. Abandoned by the government he had served, this
lost soul had been condemned to suffer a living hell of homelessness, untreated
PTSD, and substance abuse.
Suddenly Jesus had an epiphany. Despite being one of the
wealthiest societies in human history, the United States has a homeless
population of about 2 million. As a fisher of men, he would troll America�s
cities, reaping a bountiful harvest of loyal followers from amongst the
homeless and other disenfranchised groups. And he would start with the human
derelict he had just embraced.
Jesus begins laying out his strategy to his first disciple.
As Christ talks, the despondent man�s vacant expression is replaced by a
crooked smile and a look of enthusiasm. He feasts upon a small loaf of fresh
bread from Christ�s goatskin bag and listens to Jesus� message of hope and
redemption. Jesus talks for several hours. His willing adherent absorbs his
words like a desiccated sponge.
Jesus speaks of his vision to cast out his net, gathering
millions of loyal followers from amongst the homeless, poor, gays, minorities,
the working class, and other people who felt powerless to stop the momentum of
the corporatocracy in Washington. Reminding his disciple that the strength of
his moral revolution will lie in the sheer number of participants, Jesus
predicts that tens of millions will abandon working and shopping to join him in
a triumphant non-violent march on Washington. Crippled by the loss of its cogs,
the profit and war machine would finally grind to a halt.
Feeling mildly annoyed, Jesus pauses briefly to brush away a
fly that had been persistently buzzing about his face.
Continuing his monologue, Jesus reveals that he plans to
expose the true weakness of the iniquitous corporate militarists ruling the
United States by awakening the millions of Americans it had psychologically
enslaved. He would free those who had been deluded into giving their blood,
sweat, tears, and children to expand a malevolent economic empire. He would lay
the nightmare to rest and awaken the dream.
A sharp screech of tires gives Jesus and his newly anointed
apostle a jolt. Two powerfully built men with close-cropped hair and serious
expressions emerge from an ominous-looking black SUV with heavily tinted
windows. With the quick precision of a trained assassin, one of the �men in
black� snaps the disciple�s neck. The other snatches Jesus by his hair and
hurls him into the back of the Escalade . . .
Awakening in a mental fog induced by heavy sedation, Jesus
struggles to remember what had happened. Barely lucid, he slowly takes in his
surroundings. He is in a small cell dimly illuminated by a lone flickering
candle. It is chilly and the air is dank. Seated at a small table in front of
him, a simple-looking man is glaring at him with deep contempt. Jesus notes a
rotund male figure wearing a permanent snarl and a cruel looking woman with
dark skin hovering nearby. He senses that wickedness and deceit are habitual
with this trio.
Despite his significantly inferior intellect, it is obvious
to Jesus that the two others maintain the pretense that the man at the table is
�I am George W. Bush. I am President of the United States
and the leader of the free world. Our spies at the NSA were monitoring your
conversation in the alley. We know of your terrorist plot to destroy freedom
and democracy in America. I am declaring you an enemy combatant.�
Brimming with smug arrogance, Bush leans back in his chair
and locks his fingers behind his head. He trains his gaze on Jesus with the air
of one studying an insect and contemplating whether or not to squash such an
Finally he returns his attention to the script laid before
him. After several minutes of careful study, he gives Jesus, Cheney and
Condoleezza a start by forcefully slamming his fist onto the rickety wooden
table. Feeling triumphant because he is about to vanquish a tremendous threat
to the established power structure, he begins speaking again.
�You are a threat to national security. Like that MLK
bastard, your goal is to empower the poor, minorities, and the other groups we
keep oppressed to protect our selfish interests. You would awaken the masses to
our moral bankruptcy and to the foolish self-destructiveness of supporting us.
"I cannot let that happen. My wealthy base has spent
years selling Americans on the virtues of war, greed, free trade, free markets,
tax cuts for the rich, cutting social programs, surrendering their rights for
security, and mixing religion and government.
"Millions of Americans need to remain indifferent to
our wealth obtained by exploiting billions of people, the prison system we have
used to replace slavery and Jim Crow, the millions we slaughter to feed the
military industrial complex, and the torture of enemy combatants like you.
"Many of my people believe that I have a personal
relationship with you and that your Father guides me on a divine mission. They
must continue believing these atrocious lies.
"We learned from the mistake of the Roman and the
Jewish leaders. You will not get a second chance at martyrdom. I have decided
to rendition you. You will simply disappear and die anonymously in a torture
dungeon in Syria.�
Wearing a confident smirk, the
self-satisfied little man fires a question at Jesus,
�Well, Jesus? What do you have to say?�
�In the words of the inimitable Russian novelist, if God
does not exist, then everything is permitted.�
Jesus then sighs heavily, looks heavenward, and makes a
�Father, forgive them. Despite the fact that they know what
they do. And Father. I beg you to have mercy on the souls of their many
Miller is a 39-year-old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He is a member of
Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human
Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comments on his blog, Thomas