Friday, December 23, 2005

It Isn't Enough

There you are, sitting at your computer, reading the news and opinion from around the country. You have finished your holiday shopping and are nestled down for a combination of relative quiet and frenetic family events culminating in gift giving and very satisfying meals. You are feeling pretty good about yourself and really are thankful that the woes of the world have not landed on your doorstep this past year.

You think of the victims of natural disasters like the plague of hurricanes, the tsunami last Christmas, and the droughts and floods that hammer other people in to one kind of submission or another. You are very different from those people in Darfur, the ones in Kashmir, the ones in the coca fields of Columbia (and soon Bolivia). You consider the riots in Paris, in Germany, and now in Sydney. It occurs to you that race problems are not an exclusively American thing anymore, and you wonder for a brief moment if these new riots, being Muslim against Christian, have anything to do with Bush's war on terrorism. The thought slips away as one of the kids bounds into the room.

Household emergencies and brief personal contacts with growing kids attended to, you consider that you have two well-functioning, late-model automobiles, a clean and attractive home, a little crab-grass, a few extra leaves on the ground, good to adequate schools for your children, health insurance, a reasonably good job and from it a reasonably good income that allows for a family vacation at least once a year. Life is good in America.

You contribute to political parties and directly to candidates. You have noticed, though, that once you send in $25 they want more almost immediately. You consider what all that money is going for and resolve to be less of a patsy next time. You contribute to charities that help people get out from under the horror of natural disasters. You spent a little extra this year because of hurricanes. You contribute to disease-charities regularly, but actually not as much as in those years after your parent died. Yes, you do exaggerate these amounts a little on your income tax returns, but not very much ... only enough to force a different tax number.

You almost never get out of the house for a community event or to support a political candidate, yet you grouse about the price of gasoline and the price of pharmaceuticals. You got into an argument with a neighbor about Bush's felonious invasion of American citizens privacy, and wonder whether you are going to be able to get your borrowed wheelbarrow back from that neighbor any time soon. You were hopping mad about Bush and pretty unhappy with foul mouth Dick Cheney's support of torture.
You watched "Band of Brothers" on tv the night before the argument and were thinking that as bad as WWII was, at least the contesting armies tried to follow rules of civilized warfare ... and sometimes not, but usually POWs were treated as human beings not as animals.

You just don't feel comfortable doing political stuff, do you? You don't seem to be able to argue effectively. You keep forgetting facts and you get emotional when you should be getting precise and decisive. You dislike the aftermath of political talk because a kind of poison seems to fill the air, the unresolved antitheticals, the dumbfounded expressions on peoples faces when you say you used to belong to the ACLU. Were they dumbfounded because you quit paying dues or because you ever paid?

Are you going to write up some New Year's Resolutions in the next few days? Are you putting politics down at the bottom of the list, or maybe are you going to consider what it really means to be a citizen of a democracy? Do you really think that you can buy world peace and an end to poverty and hunger with $25 checks to half a dozen agencies. Do you really think that your freedom of speech is guaranteed because you were born in America? Do you really think that your civil liberties are gifts from on high because you are you, a basically nice person with a lot on your mind?

The fact is, dear reader, our Constitution has been breached. A war has been projected outward onto an essentially innocent people for no just cause. This war was sold to your lazy representatives in the Congress on the basis of a network of contrived evidence and lies. Your representatives were lazy because they knew they could be. It was because you sit in front of your computer and read the world's news and opinion and do nothing with the magnificent bounty of information and freedom you currently have.

Your President admitted felonious acts. He sits there still in Washington, D.C., scowling at those with the courage to speak up against him, with the courage to defend the only thing that makes all of yout comfortable life possible—the Constitution of the United States of America.

James Richard Brett