Writing

Piece 60 – A World Upside Down, Where is the Middle Way? By. Raimondo Graziano

A World Upside Down, Where is the Middle Way?

By. Raimondo Graziano

There is no doubt about it – the world is in utter and complete disarray. Everywhere one looks there is a lack of direction and cohesion. In nearly every nation in the world there is division and fear. Fear is indeed the word that most aptly describes this year thus far – though in truth, fear could describe the last few years of life here in this broken world. It has been building for some time, many pundits will argue over when in fact this climate of fear, hate and animosity become so far reaching and widespread. Some will say we have always lived with this lingering malaise; an affliction of civilization itself. Others portend that we are living in end of days. The truth like most things, whether we choose to accept it or not is somewhere in the middle. Not in the extremes, but in the center.

Indeed we live in harrowing times, but there is still the promise of the progress that tomorrow will inevitably bring, no matter how far we regress. History is cyclical, and we do make great strides, though we often fall prey to regression by our collective stubborn refusal to learn our history. Today, there are newer trends however that complicate things further. The technological advancements of the last three decades have brought the world closer together and farther apart. For the first time in history there is an absolute overabundance of information. So much so that we are finding it hard to discern what is true and what is not. This in and of itself has forced the multitudes to flee to the walls in fear of the unknown, in fear of that which is false, and in some cases fear of what exactly the truth is and what it means for themselves and their worlds at large. This fear of, in one hand, the inevitable, and in the other hand, the unknown has created a fundamental contradiction in the peoples of the world.

Their inner world is increasingly not aligned and often in conflict with the world around them. We have all retreated into our own secure frames of thinking on ideological extremes of both pillars of human thought. One side yearns for total liberation from the self and liberty and freedom at all costs – whether that be through complete and total liberation of the body and ideas that been the norm for centuries or through the erasure of history. The other side yearns for something similar, yet diametrically and fundamentally different. The other side yearns for order and tradition at whatever cost; whether that be through regression of the advances that women have made through control of their bodies, or through supremacy of the idea of the greatness of ones nation or of ones race. Both sides seek to satisfy the same ends – to shape and mold the world in their utterly illogical, unrealistic, and illiberal worldview. They are unwilling to face critiques of their values, and ideas and if chastised they attack and seek to silence dissent.

They have no room for debate and cooperation on tackling perhaps the gravest questions humanity has ever faced. They have framed their arguments in the language of dictatorial tyrants, their modus operandi is “us versus them”, to these ideologues the question of rectifying the present and reconciling with our past is a theatre of war, and the hearts and souls of the peoples of the world are the greatest battlefield. And victory? Why, like, any war of ideas, it is impossible to quantify when the very premise of the question they have poised presupposes that one idea and its adherents must perish for the other to reign supreme. Like the religious wars of the Crusades, this futile ideological war will only end in tumult, destruction, death, and the collapse of civilization itself. There is only one way. That long neglected pillar, holding the house of civilization upright and from caving in and collapsing on itself. The middle way. Through pragmatism, through integrity, through willpower and through a belief in the human ideal – not in the belief of one man, or one idea, but through the great coalescing of knowledge. Through the recognition of the inherent good slumbering within humanity, and through the adoption of ideas based on their merit and not their adherence to a strict code of conformity or expedience to a dogmatic political association. The world is in need of pragmatists and statesmen; men and women of character who are not afraid to compromise, but who will never give into aggression or into intimidation. Those who will stand on their values and principles, but whose ultimate pursuit is that of the greater good, progress and truth; and whose ultimate foe is deception, deceit and corruption.

Writing

Piece 54 – The Presidency Unhinged By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                         The Presidency Unhinged

                                                           By. Raimondo Graziano

            The American Presidency occupies but only a small portion of the Constitution, the strong yet oft tested guardrails of our republican democracy. The executive has over many decades and nearing three centuries now gradually expanded its powers, authority, reach, and influence. Many presidents have used the executive branch to propel their agenda forward, cement their legacy and undermine the other branches of government meant to be coequal in their distribution of power and authority.

            From Andrew Jackson to Franklin Roosevelt and to Donald J. Trump, those at the helm of American democracy have steadily expanded the ‘imperial authority of the Presidency.’ As we venture further into the next century and as partisan divisions grow ever entrenched, the dangers that are posed by a Presidency unhinged, unrestricted in the exercise of its perceived and unspoken powers, grows ever stronger. With each passing day of apathy from the American public and dereliction of duty by the Congress and the threats of partisanship within our courts, we teeter closer toward elected dictatorship.

            The influence of the two parties within the country have helped to elevate their standard bearers, their leaders of the party, to a powerful evocative symbol – a dangerous symbol. A unflinching loyalty to not a man, but to an idea. The man as an idea. But the inherent danger is to, in our blind pursuit of personal and ideological agendas, elevate dangerous demagogic figures with their own personal agendas to the heights of power, because we believe they represent more than simply the man. We are allowing the festering of an unhinged Presidency disseminate amongst us.

            In short – we forgive the once unforgivable, we accept the once unacceptable, we endorse the once impeachable. In short, we have given the Presidency, and the man who occupies its office, an endorsement to pursue an agenda at any cost. Today it is the Republicans, tomorrow perhaps the Democrats. Though the day after? Perhaps Julius Caesar himself, seizing the authority of Rome and ceding its powers to one man veiled with the veneer of a populist fury, promising to liberate the people. In our continued longing for a savior, we will bring about the degradation of our liberties and the utter dismantling and destruction of our democracy.

Writing

Piece 53 – A Condemnation of Congress By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                     A Condemnation of Congress

                                                        By. Raimondo Graziano

            If there is any American institution which stokes ire and contempt from the public it is Congress. Congress has become a woefully partisan gymnasium, full of hacks and political lackeys for their respective parties and interests as well as lobbying groups and a whole cacophony of dirty phony patriots, apologists and agitators of the highest order. These representatives that we have put into office are beholden not to the voters but to those who cut the checks that line their pockets, and fill their campaign coffers. It goes without mentioning that Congress rarely passes pieces of legislation that have any major bearing to what it is the American public is seeking. The American public longs for systematic institutional change to address the harrowing issues that they face. They mask themselves in a facetious love of the country, yet they do nothing for the people and the nation that afforded them the highest opportunity to serve the public. They serve themselves.

            This deformation of patriotism, this false love of country is borderline treasonous, and most certainly negligent and a dereliction of duty. They are ardent apologists for themselves, blaming their inability to do what is right on obstruction that they themselves have caused. They are hacks and lackeys because they perpetuate lies, and they peddle talking points fed to them by their national committees, and of course the special interests and lobbying firms that feed to them the policies that they know little to nothing about. They are bought and paid for by both foreign and domestic entities all with competing interests – none of them, the interest of the American people.

            They serve themselves, enrich themselves and blame the constituency for not being informed about the issues, they blame everyone but themselves. Their hubris and their blatant malice towards the American people is dually noted in the hearts and minds of many. It reflects in the discourse, and the American people know that those whom they send to Washington on the taxpayer’s dime, are frauds – they feel as though they have no true power or say in the political process. And of course, they don’t – Republicans work to suppress the vote, disenfranchising millions from voicing their truths, and Democrats work to suppress dissenting opinion, they suppress anything that works to move them closer to a progressive stance. In truth – Republicans and Democrats alike are cut from the same political cloth soaked in blood, a disengaged, out of touch political class of elites licking the boots of industry and anyone or anything which can keep them clothed in the black sackcloth that is American power.

            Congress has routinely failed to live up to its constitutional duties to serve, protect and defend the American public – let alone our founding documents, and our guiding principles. To the congress, these things are simply trivialities, things to be referred to rhetorically, or used as a nod to principles which they lack wholeheartedly. Governing is the duty bestowed upon these men and women, and they skirt this moral responsibility habitually. Why not, when accountability is neither an issue nor a concern – when the media on either side bolsters the arguments of these bonafide talking heads who perpetuate falsity, after falsity and continually undermine the American people. It is a vast understatement to say that reforms are needed – to campaign finance, to term limits, in regards to accountability and in regards to very premise and foundations of what it means to be a member of what is meant to the greatest deliberative body in the world.

            The corruption and rot within the hallowed halls of Congress runs deep, and if the American public does not wake up to the siege laid upon them then The United States of America will befall the same fate as the Roman Republic. In these times of trials and tribulations and with no stern captain at the helm of our democracy, of our republic, with no statesmen left and with no leaders to lead it is up to the people to keep their republic, it is up to the people to shake the shackles of corporate oligarchy that besets this country, it is up to the people to refresh the tree of liberty for all Americans. It is, and shall always be, up to the people. One can only hope, that the fickle hand of fate is on our side.

Writing

Piece 50 – The Promise & Perils of New York City By. Raimondo Graziano

The Promise & Perils of New York City

By. Raimondo Graziano

 

New York City is one of the most diverse and wealthy cities in the world. Wealth in it’s people, and their character and the stories they hold. And wealth in the sheer abundance of opportunity and promise it holds. Though here there is wealth, monetary and material wealth which abounds in a great thunderous exchange of goods, services, luxury and great inequality. Great, terrible inequality.

This city has a history of corruption and governmental neglect and negligence at the hands of those the people dually elected. In some cases democracy does not always work to the favor of the people of this city. As rent rises to highs not seen before in this cities history, the wealthy move in and supplant neighborhoods and peoples who have had roots here for generations. Our elected officials do little to nothing to mitigate this. Often they are in the pockets of those they are meant to protect the people from.

Often it is the power of political parties and the monied interests of Wall St. And the Real Estate industry who hold our elected officials hostage with exorbitant campaign contributions. These in the hands of the powerful, the movers of the levers of government though not elected, are a dangerous tool acting as near as can be though skirting the gray moral line that divides contributions and bribes. It is not this city rejects wealth and chastises it. Rather welcome it with open arms. We must take a cautioned, measured and practical approach to the wealth that enters this city uninhibited.

If those that seek to come in look to benefit from the promise this city has, from its story and its trials – then they need to invest in these communities which have been here for generations. That’s individuals and corporations alike! No one ought to get a free ride and welcome mat laid out simply because they have a fat wallet. What message are we then sending our children? The stewards of this city in the years to come? As our mayor returns from his quixotic campaign for the Presidency, as he flies in, and prepares to get back to the job he was elected for let him be reminded of the issues facing this city.

Firstly, a housing crisis in affrodabilty, while countless tens of thousands of New Yorkers remain homeless, and a shelter system that many outright avoid. Secondly, a crisis in our wellbeing and health. I’m talking about the Overdose Crisis, where we have lost thousands of New Yorkers to a preventable overdose and countless more the horrors of addiction and the stigma that comes with it. Thirdly, a mayor who cannot work effectively with his Police Department to ensure that they receive the support they need while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions and in many cases negligence. Fourthly, educational disparities within our school system, disparities in opportunity.

The way we tackle this is not through ending programs for gifted students, but rather expanding access and resources to the people of New York, to those who don’t have access to begin with. To tackle a nuanced problem we needn’t follow the recommendations of the mayors bureaucratic commission, to penalize those who do well, but to gove opportunity to those who haven’t been given the chance to succeed!

Fourthly, the lack of expanded economic opportunities to smaller business which are struggling to compete with larger and often aggressive chains and other corporations. Let’s empower the people, and unleash the untapped potential in many cases lying dormant in this great city. We needn’t demonize corporations but rather, we can say to them – You have had your fill, let the people profit from the well too. We can reward responsible corporate practices, and those which are sustainable and empower workers by encouraging the growth of unions, while scrutinizing those who face no such oversight.

In other words, what this city deserves, what it’s people deserve and what is long overdue is a city government that works for the benefit of the people, responsible progressive and pragmatic governance for the benefit of all New Yorkers, those here for generations and those who seek to plant their roots. We can achieve this together, it is our hope that together this vision for a truly progressive, responsible and action oriented city government can become our reality. That is the hope of this city, that reason and justice, and personal responsibility projected outward can uplift and transform this city into a model for responsibility and duty and honor the world over.

 

Writing

Piece 47 – Compromise & Good Governance By. Raimondo Graziano

Compromise & Good Governance
By. Raimondo Graziano
   Something that is sorely lacking within governance today is really quite simple. It is goodness. Good governance is practically non existent in the Halls of Congress. Taken further we can say the same for local governance as well. There is a hemorrhaging of decency within government. The work of the people, passing legislation on a bipartisan basis is a reach and no longer within our grasp. The force of the two major parties in the country, and their funders and bureaucratic underlings has helped to push the nation into an ideological divide in an attempt by both parties to further polarize the country. The media is at fault here as well – there is no truth, or objectivity, or fairness in media any longer. And if there is, we can seldom distinguish between pieces which have the public good at heart and those which only seek to push an ideologically motivated agenda.

Ideology is not something that needs to fundamentally cripple the working capacity of a country, it can be a force for tremendous good. So long as that ideology does not inherently pit one portion of the nation against another, or one class or race against the other. Our fundamentally American ideals and ideological leanings are what can guide us together in the promise of greater unity. Our ability to work across racial and class lines to come together in pursuit of common ground, our tenacity and our spirit of revolution is what can bring us together in forging a stronger more coherent national identity and foster the demand for good governance.

Governing based on truth, and the needs of our most depressed communities and a unity in the common hope of the American dream revitalized for a new generation of Americans. We cannot allow political parties, corporations, or ideologically motivated politicians or foreign governments to chip away at our common identity as Americans. We can demand better, and work to elect officials that will both aspire to the greatest of ambitions and work for effective change that we can truly see and feel. Compromise is not a sign of weakness or moral ambiguity – it is a telltale sign of a true statesmen. One who does not bend to demands, but works to achieve equitable reforms and stands firm in their virtues and beliefs and above all – embodies the ideas and ideology of the American Ideal.