“The government of a nation may be usurped by the forcible intrusion of an individual into the throne. But to conquer its will so as to rest the right on that, the only legitimate basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation of all opposition.” —Thomas Jefferson to —-, 1825. ME 16:127
They say that every seven years, your have a whole new body – it’s not the same body that you lived with seven years previously. True or not (it’s said to be a myth and no science yet talks about it…)Each day, our cells die and new ones replace. We cut ourselves, we heal. Sometimes, there are scars.
I listened to the memories of September 11th this week with the same ol’ questions in my mind, the same thoughts running through my head and heart – how has this changed us? I listened to the taped 911 calls, recounts of people who were there, books by renowned researchers on the effects of 9/11, and I questioned if positive changes have been made. There are many who haven’t let go of the terror or the sorrow, whether they had loved ones who died in one of the many plane crashes or not. I don’t judge them. I listen and I think. I wonder. Are we safer today than we were? Where are we when it comes to living in our own country?
For those who want a long read, the complete 9-11 Commission Report is online. The commission closed down in August 2004 after the disclosure of the report. In researching the effects since 9/11, I’ve read a lot of different web sites. What is incredibly amazing are the numbers of wanna-be “scientific” groups out there all proposing conspiracy theories and George Bush puppet-mastering. Some are quite amusing, to say the least. Some are just plain scary. Back to the 9-11 report, the question that most of us now ask is where are we now? We seem to be a nation of lost children, clinging to the ideals of our Commander-in-Chief. Well, some of us. Others of us, including me, are just looking, and listening.
Have you traveled lately? The security threat continues to be “orange.” What does this mean? Most of us have never been to the TSA Website. If you haven’t, it’s very interesting. The discussions seem positively mundane – and for anyone who’s read the threat assessment levels, it seems an odd dichotomy. If you watch the other travelers, the comments you will hear most are “I don’t care what they do as long as they keep me safe.” Safe from other terrorists? Safe from another 9-11? The disturbing nature of this is the relinquishment of civil liberties. For more thoughts on that, see the Center for Media and Democracy, here. I won’t even begin to discuss warrantless wiretapping.
Let’s look at crime. I truly believe that with the economy in such a recession, crime is on the rise. There have been seven homicides in my own neighborhood in the past three weeks. Stabbings, shootings, and robberies are all over the place in San Francisco. Aren’t they in your town? Compare Los Angeles and San Francisco. Most would think that LA would be the more violent place. Not so, according to the SFPD. Why? People without jobs and without hope fall into the places of despair and dealing. I don’t believe that most people want to really be criminals. Some do – but the majority really don’t grow up thinking they want to be some bad ass, dealing junkie with a habit and no home. Why is our economy bad? I wonder if all the money we’ve thrown at Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t thrown here, what would we have achieved? We went from a surplus budget to a deficit – the biggest one in American history. The Trade Deficit, as reported by American Economic Alert (.org), is currently growing at $20K every second.
What if our expenditures in the middle east were spent here? Could we have improved our schools and some of the basic infrastructure in the Nation, such as our airports, rail system, highways, levies, and natural areas? Could we have spent that money on research into alternative fuels and perhaps reducing or eliminating the need for oil overall? Could that money have been spent to put people to work and increase the standard of living for the majority of the nation and not gone to barely bringing power 30% of the time to 50% of the Iraqi people?
In education, the No Child Left Behind act of 2001, with some revisions in 2004, continues to be a source of disappointment. Education officials at state levels continue to say that they will of course “teach to the test,” which is explicitly against the law in California. However, we also have one of the lowest passing rates of the nation. Money for education also is drying up at a national level; states are left to fend for themselves. The arts continue to be a lost cause and now sports and other after school activities are dying out. Many activities across the country stay afloat due to the volunteer efforts of coaches and teachers, many of whom also pay for their expenses out of pocket. What would it be like for children to have subjects they were interested in and tools that help them deal with an ever-changing, technology-driven, global economy? Ask a recent high-school graduate how many states there are in the United States of America. Chances are that 8 times out of 10, you’ll get the wrong answer. * Have you seen their spelling? Gads.
You can’t wage war on a concept. It never works. The war on drugs, fat, ignorance, terrorism – these are false wars that never accomplish anything. You can wage war on another country or group – something our government has been loathe to admit to do. Our government has pushed the envelope as far as it will go in regards to war. Congress alone has the right to declare war. Our congress allowed itself to be bullied and cajoled and probably paid off in an effort to create this war. While we all know Afghanistan’s part in the 9-11 attacks, we now all know (some of us did previously!) that Iraq had nothing to do with it. Other countries who harbor terrorists and who are “evil” have been dealt with differently, many at the same time. One has to wonder, why war, why there, and what has it gained us? Are we really freer today, safer today, than ever? If we declare war on an ideal, are we ever safe? Does our leader have the interests of us, the American Public, really in his mind when he started all of this?
The answer is no. We need to take a fresh perspective – we need to have people who can lead us out of the darkness of a cycle of fear, economic woes, and lead us back to what is important – our own nation’s strength and prosperity. We need to stand up and take a look around. We need to read – and I don’t mean trash talk and unsubstantiated claims. Read from a variety of sources, government and non-government. Read from both sides of the platform. Don’t just watch the news and don’t accept what’s handed to you. Ask questions. Please. Ask who “they” is. Think about what you do and what you want. Whatever side you land on, in this election year, think about the next seven years. Think about what the American “body” will look like when all its cells have been replaced. Let’s make this a healthy body that is strong, intelligent, and independent. Let’s become a whole body once more.
* There are 50, in case you’re wondering. And no, Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and all other protectorates and territories do NOT count. Neither does the District of Columbia. If you didn’t know that, you should ask yourself why. It’s on the American Citizenship test.