Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Reversal of Hope


By Daniel Perin

Well, my friends, it has begun.  In the two special elections held on Tuesday to fill vacant seats in Democrat Representative Anthony Wiener’s NY district and the Nevada U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican John Ensign both were filled by Republicans.  I guess it should be no surprise.  However, it is terribly disappointing.  In an atmosphere that demands we throw all the senators and representatives out and start all over, it seems we have forgotten it is not only the person we may wish to defeat, but also the party.  In our haste to get rid of the “scoundrels” we have forgotten that party planks and basic philosophy are what we should be looking at when we seek to replace our representatives.

Frankly, I have my doubts that either the Republican or Democratic parties are up to the task of saving the country from further despair.  I would eagerly examine the position of any Independent candidate for any office in the coming elections.  I am a registered Independent.  I believe in the possibility of a middle ground philosophy of government that recognizes what the Federal Government can do that is beyond the ability of the individual states.  I believe there are things better decided on the ground in local and state governments.  Getting that balance requires thinking “outside the box” of traditional party answers.

It is clear to me that Republicans think that private business can offer us better advantages in stirring the economy to success.  (Look where that got us in the 1930’s and in the 2000’s so far.)  The Democrats seem to think that only government has the right answers.  Our Big Brother can take care of us.  (That hasn’t done so well either, considering the graft, waste, cronyism, etc.)

We all, or at least any of us who still believe in hope, have a great deal of work to do to educate ourselves about the original, constitutional role of government and the current demographic and economical issues that we must adapt to if we are to continue to be the world leader as a caring and competent political, social system.  The answer does NOT lie within the principles of the Religious Right or the Tea Party, both of which have serious agendas to usurp the constitutional rights of the individual and seek to establish a theocracy based solely on supposed “Christian” ideals.

The Constitution provides for the separation of church and state for a reason.  As a country that is NOT a “homeland” but rather an assumed country “taken” from the original occupants, it was recognized that we were, in fact, a melting pot that consisted of people from all over the world.  First from European countries, followed by people from every other ethnic and religious heritage.  We often resisted each new group.  They came seeking the freedoms we offered and the belief that anyone who works hard and contributes to our society could achieve their dreams.  But as each group became a part of our society we realized that we have become richer culturally, economically and socially.

Somewhere along our journey we have forgotten the potential contribution or become threatened by “foreigners” who we fear will take over our county.  For heaven’s sake, folks, we are ALL foreigners and to forget that is to build a class society restricting the freedoms of those we believe will weaken us if we don’t watch out.  Nowhere is this more evident to me than the vitriol expressed personally against Barack Obama.  Never in our history has there been such contempt and obvious disrespect for the office of the President of our country and for the man personally.  I am saddened, angry and frustrated by this.  I see the roots of this negativity in the fear that a “foreigner,” a “slave” somehow tricked his way into being elected, because certainly no black man could possibly deserve or earn such a coveted position.

Today there is a strong movement that has as its agenda to remove most of the constructive changes we have made to become a more inclusive society that gives all of its members a greater sense of equality and hope for their future.  Religious fundamentalism would put a Christian God in charge of the country and demand all come to their knees in obedience to the exclusion of other religious belief systems, including those with no religious belief at all.  This agenda includes a return to second-class citizenship for the black community (putting them back in their “place”). Additionally, it wants to return women to the sub-class of obedient homemaker subject to the will of their husbands.  Of course, this also means no freedom for women over their own bodies.

When people in a society give the most exercised response of shouting and clapping because Governor Perry has executed more people than any other governor, or yells out support for letting a person die if he doesn’t have insurance to cover his hospital and medical needs, there is something terribly wrong with that society, or at least those in the group that has lost their sense of decency and compassion.  This is NOT the country I want to live in.  Well, I’m NOT leaving.  I am going to stay right here and continue to speak out.  I am going to continue reading and listening to a variety of sources in an effort to understand what is really going on behind the media scenes.  We are all subject to selective information.  You have to really dig to get closer to the truth of what is going on.  I hope I am not alone in this effort.  I don’t care what your particular philosophy or religious or political position is, if you have not examined the basis of your beliefs lately, you are out of touch and need a refresher course.  Things have changed.  They are continuing to radically change.  We can be a constructive part of that change or we can wait and see what happens  (as we are carted off to some isolation camp because we are a threat to the status quo).

No single source of information will give us all the answers.  That is why we need to examine many sources of information, and not just settle down with what seems comfortable at the time.  I have come upon a book that has offered me another look into the machinations behind the scenes that is causing the social unrest and frustrating efforts of those with different ideas of what can be done to improve this country.  It is, Republican Gomorrah:  Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, by Max Blumenthal.  It is one view, but by no means the only view of how people gain power and use that power to destroy the rights of others.

There has been a reversal of hope for many of us who were excited by the “I can” chants supporting Obama’s run for the Presidency.  There is still reason to hope, but nothing will come of it if we just sit on our hands and fail to get busy in whatever way each of us can to discover, support and vote for responsible representatives.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I AM 9-11 WEARY

By Daniel Perin
In the ten years since the terrible, senseless attack on the World Trade Center in New York I have become weary of the repeated stories of loss, revenge, hatred and victim-hood that seems to never end.  Somehow since the Oklahoma City bombing of the Federal Building and the effort to salve the heartbreak and sense of personal loss, we decided that the families of those who lost their lives in these tragic events deserved compensation from their government.  Certainly, their loss is unfortunate.  It is personally devastating in every way imaginable.  I get that.  I support doing whatever we can as a society to help mend the broken lives and irreversible loss these families have experienced.

That being said, I admit that I have become disheartened by the actions of some who have pressed for “damages” as though it was the government’s fault that they lost a loved one.  Our government offered what amounted to a generous “life insurance” payout and gave assistance in many other ways.  For the most part this was what needed to be done, even though no assistance or amount of money could replace the loss these folks experienced.  Some who chose not to accept the government assistance because they felt they might do better in the courts have left me appalled.  It was, in my opinion, another example of, “Somebody owes me for this loss,” kind of attitude that has weakened the fabric of our society.

On the other hand, I recognize that the government has been slow, if not essentially halted all together when it comes to taking care of the long term consequences of damage to the health and well being of rescue workers due to struggling in the dust and grit of the Trade Center debris for days and weeks.

Somewhere there has to be a middle ground of common sense, personal responsibility and government responsibility when it comes to what is done to recover from such horrible events.  Some may see no difference here between natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes and the acts of war.  Perhaps there is no difference, but for me there is.  I am sure I have come to this feeling because I see some taking advantage of the disaster to get someone to pay for their loss.  I know it is too simplistic to advise people to “just get insurance.”  Insurance doesn’t cover acts of war or weather disasters unless expensive special coverage is acquired.

Finally, let me share something that caused me to wonder about all of these questions and my personal feelings.  I just read the special issue of Time Magazine on “Beyond 9/11.”  The reports brought tears to my eyes again, just as the event did in 2001.  I do feel for the many whose losses are tragic.  The sense of desolation, fear and anger is still palpable for many of us.  And though I have experienced burnout about 9/11, I do, in fact, join the survivors in their efforts to reconcile, each in his/her own way, the loss they have experienced.  I pray for them and for us all so we can get beyond the fear and anger and open our hearts and minds to a future that is secure and fulfilling in new and wonderful ways.