When the grass was short, Knees were barked and Giggles lasted through the day. When the weeds grew wild, Skirts were short and Glasses magnified the world. When the leaves fell, Streams were colored, Work was life endowed. When the ice blew, Snow drifts suffered, Adult eyes grew jaded. When trouble struck, Murder most cruel, Debts buried mountains. When color drained, Blood was forgotten, but Genocide prevailed. When liberty hid her head, Shamed and lonely, Safety became an illusion of the past. When false men screamed in anger, Children met death, Streets rained red with blood. When jealous greed drank a draught, Slowly sip by sip, glad Blindness filled our eyes. When police dressed in shrouds, Denying other’s truth, Armed repressions stole freedom. When children looked for justice, Winter came early, Paris was set aflame.
I never thought I’d see the day that teachers would ask parents in approved letters from school administrations to keep the news from children because it would cause discipline charges. If anything, when I taught I wanted my students to watch the news and look for elements of who, what, where, when and why. A short article written to summarize the important news of the day that could be used to teach how the correspondence of knowledge, application and discovery shaped our worlds was a positive thing. Of course, there were problems with discovering what was important and what was simply to incite a feeling that wouldn’t be allowed in polite society. But these days, I’d make sure my children didn’t watch the news when politics are highlighted. Running for the highest office in our land must show figures who, with integrity, have a positive regard for our country, the office, and the outcomes of public service. At least that is what I believed would occur, right up until this year.
This year I am embarrassed to be known as a voter. I’ll be even more embarrassed if I don’t vote. What are my choices? A bully pulpit like Theodore Roosevelt? A moralist? A preacher’s pet? A shrill voice shouting, “Mememe” without room for punctuation? How can these people be taken seriously? If I choose one, whose message is not only consistent but in my best interests to speak about, am I guilty if I promote my opinion about him?
I have never seen such a snarl of childlike behavior coming out of grown men and women. I get emails asking for money multiple times a day as the sky is falling. Watching the skies, I have seen the heaven’s holding in their assigned place, clouds up where they belong, and the wind sweeping up after their parade. Watching the television, I have see a grown man inciting to riot, to violence and then blaming it on anyone but himself. He’s a front runner. I have seen a woman portray herself as one of the people but taking the very money from sources that she had urged her presidential husband to veto during his turn. I have seen an older man criticized because he is over 70 and in good health. How can that be a disability? I have a disability. He’s been at work for over 55 years and now they want a physical before they let him run? Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t have a physical first and he had heart issues as well as suffered from the effects of polio in his life. Edward Kennedy came out in opposition to forces within our society that were actively seeking to control our every waking moment. He was against racism, poverty, organized crime and intellectually destroying movements who wanted to commercialize our foreign policy. And Humphrey, poor man, struck down by cancer when all he wanted was to make the world a better place for all of us. Jimmy Carter has done more good, and set a better example, after he left the office of president. When he was President, the congress refused to act positively on his proposals. Now the man has not only a sterling reputation for fairness, concern and compassion, but his cancer is in remission because of presidential funding of research.
We pay athletes millions of dollars. A man or woman, working blue collar jobs, will make in their entire lifetimes less than these young men make in a single year. Those who can take time to have a social life, vacation and go to concerts in addition to their occupations will live much longer than those of us who try to exist from paycheck to paycheck. The oil industries, gas industries, and coal industries treat their employees as expendable while they put profits in the pockets of their blue suits (or black suits or even a leisure shirt from Hawaii) and don’t use it to update and safeguard their resources. Then they turn around and swear that prices are so low for the public that it will ruin the economy. Word folks, the people who work to do all of the menial jobs in this country were very appreciative when prices fell. But do the bottom and middle of society not count?
There are people who work for others; teachers, nurses, firefighters and yes, even the police who continue to do their jobs just because they are needed. Bad apples aside, shouldn’t they have healthcare? No, not insurance, yet another bloated industry. HEALTHCARE. You bet they should.
I’ve seen HOAs who work for their communities turn right around and hire management groups who work against them. The management groups are turning quite a profit and neighborhoods become less neighborly as a result. Mine will charge you a 36% fine if you are late by even a day. 36% is about the beginning of title loans, which capture families who have little and are about to have even less. Food is not a luxury. Clean water is not a luxury. We have in Michigan a governor who encouraged Flint to use water they knew was unpalatable and downright poisonous. Can’t we on the bottom pay for a dollar a bottle? How come we don’t have those resources, now that industry moved away and jobs are found at the dollar store?
I’m angry that somehow the spirit of the United States that advocated “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” has been swept aside and replaced with “We the masses have the right to be prosecuted and detained because of the color of our skin or our income levels or sexual preference to the point of execution that needs no justification and has no limits, to be given fearful messages by leaders that ensure compliance to new legislative whims, to starve, freeze and die of illnesses before our time, to become the least educated country in this world, to have militant organizations terrorize our own people, to destroy our natural resources, to bully and insight to riot whenever it is possible the subjects who live within our borders, to keep out any and all compassion towards the rest of the world, to profit from all moneys taken and abused and misused by the rich…” I’m angry.
I have a right to be angry. I served in the US Army, even though women were given treatment I wouldn’t inflict on a stray possum. I taught in this country’s public schools. I taught in a school system that the newer residents who were wealthier got new schools and the best equipment and opportunities. I also taught on the poor side of town. I taught school children in buildings that were old, worn, and dangerous. I taught where there weren’t enough text books to give each student one, and certainly they were not current textbooks with newly learned science and technology lessons. I put my personal money into buying books for students to read, to learn from, and I was glad to do so. I stayed every day, subjected to every illness that a child brings to school on the hands or in their sneezes when they should have been home safely in bed. I contracted an auto-immune disease. Perhaps the sneezes were part of that, perhaps not. But I want, I DEMAND, that I and every other person on the face of these states that banded together in brotherhood and sisterhood to create a nation that would rise to be a star at the top of the global factions called countries because of its policies that would eradicate poverty, racism, violence, hatred, bigotry, disease, religious zealotry and more. Those who target the poor and middle-income in an effort to increase the divide between the classes need to be put on notice that their moment of greed is at an end and that we as a people will be entitled to live our lives productively, happily and able to share in those “Blessings of Liberty” and tolerance that we were promised.
I remember the 1960s when JFK spoke about working together, when the Peace Corps was a way to serve the world, when Martin Luther King Jr used the teachings of Gandhi to mandate a peaceful reproach and civil disobedience in the face of wrong doing so that the wrong doing would end. I remember Robert Kennedy speaking and the enthusiasm of his voice proclaiming that the time had come for things to start becoming open to humanity and its needs. I was watching the TV as a child when John, Martin and Robert were murdered. I watched my parents who were numb after all of the violence. I wanted the “Blessing of Liberty.” I still do.