America on Fire II, Breaking the Chain Reaction

A look up reveals a mysterious haze of the ordinarily clear blue early Autumn sky. The fires of western states expand a canopy of smoke over the nation. America is literally on fire, as the pathways of history blur in the face of an uncertain future fueled by an uncompleted past. Climate change and pestilence of a worldwide pandemic burn fear into the American imagination. The American ideal is on fire.

A literal fire needs fuel, heat, and oxygen to burn. The three identify the Fire Triangle. Fire science research later identified the Triangle as a Tetrahedron i.e a triangular pyramid. The fire triangle’s fourth dimension in this Tetrahedron is the chemical chain reaction that maintains combustion. The only way to extinguish a fire is to eliminate one of the four dimensions of the fire Tetrahedron. A chemical chain reaction is taking place in the forest lands of the west.

The chain reaction of COVID 19 is choking out America’s flawed way of life. Why flawed, some may ask? The flaws present themselves in the lack of properly addressing America’s original sin, and dealing with its residue i.e systemic racism. The old saying goes: “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein. Therefore, insanity and the cycle of the chain reaction in America, the same as the west’s fires, must be stopped. Something must break the cycle. 


A self-replicating chain reaction culture, is one that reinforces the freedom to the white backlash, to the oppression cycle. The condition mirrors the continual cycle of the African American sojourn across the pages of American history. The chain reaction of slavery followed by the hope in reconstruction was interrupted by the white backlash of Jim crow, intimidation, violence, and the KKK’s birth to continue the cycle. In the 1960s, the Great Society, voting rights, civil rights, and housing laws reflected that same hope. The so-called war on crime cloaked by the “Law and Order” rhetoric, the war on drugs, the crime bill of the 90s followed by Mass incarceration was the new white backlash.

Americans seemed to embrace “Hope and Change,” and America’s first Black President. Now, with nationalistic white supremacy on the rise, hate crimes achieve record highs, systemic racism, and police brutality/murder of blacks is out of control in this country. The U.S. is experiencing another repulsive chapter of white backlash. A smoke-filled nation’s breathing difficulties begin experiencing whispers of empathic guilt over George Floyd’s pleadings of “I can’t breathe.”

Many are exercising their first amendment rights. Is it possible for them to imagine something more, something more substantive, unprecedented? Is an 80% + voter turn out, such as that which elected Abraham Lincoln in 1860, even imaginable? The cycle of apathy characteristic of the 21st century sank to a low voter turnout of only 55%+ in 2016. 

“A nation free of racial and economic injustice, and one that centers all Black lives can only come to fruition with the aid of the vote. Voting rights are sacrosanct not because they represent the end of the long journey toward racial justice. Their importance lays in the recognition by our ancestors that unfettered voting rights meant that, at last, we could begin.” By Peniel E. Joseph The Washington Post

2020 is a new beginning for many who would dare to dream past calamity, or would dare to imagine in the murk. Change can come if the chain reaction of what has always been is challenged by reimagining a different reality and acting on it.

“I looked up the road I was going and back the way I come, and since I wasn’t satisfied, I decided to step off the road and cut me a new path.”

Dr. Maya Angelou

Kevin Robinson Executive Director of Accord1

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