The Colors of Truth in America


By Cynthia Poten

Knowing only too well the shades of corruption, a palette devised by power’s dark greed, I’ve been pondering the colors of truth. Consider the burden of RED — the ‘redskin’ slur that launched racism in America, consider all the blood shed in its wars, its police murders.

Consider the blazing red of wildfires. Venturing into the unhealthy air stemming from Northern California fires recently, I saw red flash by on a woodpecker crown and wondered how the toxic smoke will affect him. Later, as I put groceries in my car, I noticed the Red, White and Blue fluttering out of a car window, causing me to muse on America’s first flag, designed to symbolize the unity of independent states working together for the common good of a nation.

The colors chosen for that flag had a lot to say about the nuances of truth. Red symbolized hardiness and valor. Blue represented vigilance, perseverance, and justice. White symbolized purity and innocence. Is there a thinking person alive today who feels the white in our flag still represents purity and innocence?

WHITE — the color of Klan hoods and mushroom clouds over Japan. The skin color of genocidal colonialists (immigrants all), who decimated Native American tribes and banished them to reservations. The skin color of an Administration that has imprisoned immigrants legally seeking asylum, taken their children and sent them who knows where? And then there’s the whitewash pouring through the media day after day for official acts that violate democratic principles and laws — violations rooted in the color of skin and the color of money. For as slavery taught us, there’s a direct link between racism and the pursuit of profit.

Like many streets across America, the main walkway of Sebastopol has BLACK Lives Matter painted in huge yellow letters. While yellow reflects the use of road paint, its symbolism nevertheless adds a powerful dimension to a street art that asserts the rights of all human beings, black, brown and white, who are marginalized or worse by racist, classist, and bigoted mentalities.

As the most luminous color of the spectrum, YELLOW symbolizes enlightenment, creativity, optimism, and the sunlight that is exposing for all the world to see the prejudice that poisons history’s most powerful nation. It illuminates as well the rising global demand for human rights.

As for the color of money, the GREEN of America’s dollar is as profound an irony as the white stripes on its flag, given that green vegetation sustains the rest of Life on Earth and the grim reality that profit imperatives have destroyed Life on a monumental scale. The People’s reaction to this destruction generated Earth Day in 1970. Since then, green has emerged as the color of truth for living sustainably. The Green New Deal championed by progressive Democrats, and endorsed by Joe Biden, is a plan for moving forward with that truth, for moving away forever from an exploitative economic system that has left millions of people impoverished or in financially precarious situations. That has left millions diseased and/or homeless, millions struggling with the impacts of virulent fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes. That has caused the extinction of multiple species and countless ecosystems.

That green is the path forward is obvious to those who trust science and to those who demand justice and equality. Sustainability can only be achieved under an economic system that supports all life on Earth. It is for these reasons that a voter who lives in Southern California has proposed instituting the use of green flag poles to bear the Stars and Stripes. It’s not difficult to imagine the American banner of liberty and justice for all waving from a green flag pole. Despite the dark side of its history, American Democracy was a giant step forward in the evolution of the human social contract.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that a green pole for Old Glory would be seen around the world as a signal that the United States has rejoined the international commitment to address the causes and impacts of climate catastrophes, that it is moving forward with the vital work of greening its economy.

The need to vote for these imperatives points to another color in the spectrum of truth — PURPLE.

The Ancients believed purple heals the heart and ennobles the soul. Co-opted long ago for the robe of royal authority, purple today is a question for the 2020 election. Will red and blue voters merge into a purple choice to heal a divided country by voting to reject politicians of either party who legislate for profit? By voting for former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware instead of the current President, who lies daily, who…



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