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Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos might have it right. Pioneering in outer space can lead to survivability of people capable of escaping calamity on planet Earth. If the United States sets the standards for values the world should observe, then this mission is grossly out of step.

For instance, calamity as defined can be applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. While fussing over mask mandates and vaccinations, which are saving lives, some public policy leaders and religious leaders pick apart effective solutions to capitalize on any single circumstance when a problem occurred. False information is a problem. Imagine how amused the real influencers must be to fiddle while the good old USA is weakened through the division of its citizens over their health.

Even a simple act of voting has become calamitous in the United States. Under the guise of non-existent voter fraud, confidence has been eroded in electing representatives who carry out the will of the people, regardless of their persuasion. Jan. 6 is now a day of reckoning for national consciousness. The next national election cycle is likely to be volatile, when there is no guarantee of results on both sides of the equation. The rest of the world will be watching this episode.

After 20 years of fighting, spending treasure and training soldiers in another country for retribution and to promote democratic beliefs and values, U.S. citizens are entangled over whether our military personnel should’ve continued to shed blood and money to hold that country. That country’s soldiers walked away from the assets provided, in favor of a ticket to another land. Reports indicate that some corrupt leaders left that country with millions of U.S. dollars, which will keep them smiling.

While the West Coast states are ablaze, the South and East coasts have entered hurricane season, in which both are increasing in intensity. Yet climate change deniers hold onto the Industrial Age practices that exploit fossil fuels to generate economic growth. Yet, the Earth is being devastated by wealth for the privilege of becoming billionaires and leaders through extraction of fossil fuels. Although utility costs and environmental damage increase, people are distressed over change into a new technological age.

Countries transitioning into technology can certainly hack U.S. intellectual property and markets to devise their own economic potential.

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Some law enforcement personnel have used their unique position to serve as executioners of people they don’t like. Many times, enforcement is served against people with a certain ethnic identity disproportionately. When disputes arise or crimes occur, law enforcement serves as the gatekeeper for justice. However, communities seek the inclusion of law enforcement in local activities and events.

Some of these professionals build strong relations with communities, while others tear relationships down.

When shopping at local convenience stores, subtle advertisements for cigarettes of numerous brands are stocked immediately behind the cashier, with fruit flavors of vaping products on or near the counter.

Surely, these products are enticing to young adults, as well as others. Yet, tobacco and similar products are confirmed health risks for breathing problems and cancer. Our health care system is challenged with reducing the addictions of these products. The future of tobacco companies and their stockholders relies on individual emotional strength to “just say no” to the sight of colorful enticements and generational behavior.

Public policy does not seem to be the answer for survivability when wrapped up in attitudes about wealth generation and individual freedom. With the loss of public trust and stretching individual ideals beyond comprehension, the world is at risk of losing moral competence and igniting environmental catastrophes.

Can trust in leadership be regained and Earth’s limited resources reserved for up-and-coming families? Will current attitudes about how prosperity is managed and who will manage it create more calamity? The element of time will continue, with or without human existence. There must be a new Age of Enlightenment.

Marcus Wilkes is assistant director of the Southern Appalachian Labor School, in Kincaid.

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