This week has been a continuous struggle, trying to make sense of the world in which we live – the true mark of a Socialist and an Atheist. Die-hard Conservatives are absolutely certain they have it all figured out and know what’s best for all of us and there are more than a few Liberals just as bad. Opinions are a good thing because frankly, I don’t know too many people who could make it through the day without having a couple of juicy ones. That said, not all opinions are equal. Opinions are my stock and trade and in good measure, how I make a living, but here’s the thing about opinions: they’re not much good unless backed by facts, evidence and a little humanity. Yup, you heard me right, humanity.
The thing I’ve always loved most about this amazing Democracy of ours, is that we’ve enjoyed a long tradition of being a people interested in raising the quality of life for one another, gaining satisfaction in seeing a fellow countryman come from nothing and make something of himself or herself. This is the singular quality that separates the United States from anywhere else on earth. We’ve also prided ourselves on ending slavery, giving minorities and women the franchise, creating equal access for those with disabilities, creating humane working conditions for laborers and understanding that civil rights are the bedrock of any nation daring to call itself “free”. The one unique quality above all others, especially since the Great Depression, has been our compassion for those in need – the poor, the infirm, the elderly – which brings us back to the discussion of humanity.
I wish someone could explain to me, how permitting poor kids to go without a free or reduced school lunch in order to pay for tax cuts for the most prosperous Americans is humane. Tell me how forcing senior citizens, barely getting by now, to pay an additional $6,000 a year in health care costs to pay for corporate welfare is humane. Make sense for me the idea that our military, at annual funding of over 711 billion dollars, (and 41% of all global military spending) makes us safer than say, China, that spent less than 162 billion dollars and comprises only 3.6 percent of global military spending. Explain further how that money is better spent on bombs while more than 20% of all American children live in poverty and an even greater number live with chronic food insecurity. And for the love of all that is good, can someone please explain to me how, when there is a far greater number of people who want jobs than there are jobs available, those people without jobs are considered “parasites” by the wealthy. Tell me again how big corporations who sent their jobs overseas while raking in record profits during one of deepest recessions in American history can ever be called the “job creators”. They’re only job creators if you speak fluent Cantonese and live in a government mandated one child per family household.
Somehow, up is down, right is wrong, evil is good and money is speech. Now you know why I’m a Socialist. It’s not about “redistributing the wealth”, as the Right has so carefully crafted that meme, it’s about humanity. The Right has done a fine job of redistributing the wealth, thank you. They’ve managed it through “Trickle Down Economics”, a three-decade long failed experiment they’re determined to continue. I say, when using the American people as lab rats, 30 years of bringing an entire class of citizens to near extinction pretty much means your premise has been a failure of epic proportions. Doubling down on a stupid idea because even though you got most of everything, you now demand the crumbs too will never convince me you will make the problem of income disparity better, but exacerbate it exponentially. Telling the least among us to “suck it up” while rich people stand on a stage telling us it will be painful for all of us when in truth, for 1%, there will be no pain at all, is criminal. It’s a crime against humanity and that’s not what our nation is about.
I have listened to some of the poorest people in America, denied a decent education due to abject poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity, agree with the wealthiest in our country that leveling the playing field is akin to Communism and our current President hates America. I shake my head in wonder. It turns out when you defund education and stop teaching people to think for themselves, they’re far easier to control. I was never a fan of President Bush, but I didn’t hate him. I never thought he hated America. I never thought he was a Nazi. I just thought he wasn’t terribly bright. That doesn’t make him a bad man. But these poor, uneducated souls have been sold a bill of goods that the President is not only a Communist, he isn’t even an American and he’s out to steal your “freedom”. Here’s some news for those who believe that tripe… the President isn’t out to steal your freedom because you already gave it away. You’ve been led to believe that your freedom resides in the barrel of gun and anyone different from you is suspect. The only thing that’s been “given” to you is a deep sense of fear, packaged neatly in the Bible.
Where has our humanity gone? This isn’t about Christian bashing, either. I’ve said it many times: Gandhi got it right. “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” I’ve studied the Bible. I have a minor in religious studies. Everything I read about what Jesus said or did related to love, charity, forgiveness, peace, honor and truth and those are qualities for which I have a deep respect. I understand why people love Jesus. I know a lot of Christians and I know the difference between “noun” Christians and “verb” Christians. Noun Christians talk the talk. Verb Christians walk the walk. There’s very little nuance in that. There’s no “sometimes” or “most of the time” in that. Jesus was a Socialist. He made sure everyone was fed, cured and loved. I can respect that. I will never respect those who insist that every word in the Bible is of Jesus because it’s not true.
To those who would deny the LGBT community civil rights because the Bible says it’s a sin, well, here’s what Jesus said about homosexuality: Yeah, exactly. Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. So tell me, oh sexually insecure ones, how do two people loving one another, diminish your civil rights, your religious liberties or your marriage? I’d say if your marriage is so fragile that two same-sex people loving one another is a threat to it, your mate just isn’t that into you. I’m thinking that two people loving one another, any two people at all, makes the world a better place and our country a nicer place to live. Surely even you can see the humanity in that.
There are many Americans, struggling, who still give their money and their time to those who have nothing. I see the man down the block, on a fixed income picking up his disabled neighbor three times a week to make sure he has groceries and access to the post office and doctor visits. I watch the Down’s Syndrome boy joyfully mow the lawn of my 80 year-old neighbor undergoing chemo treatments for leukemia because as he says, “I like to help Miss Thelma. She’s sick.” I see the girl down the street living in a house with no running water volunteer at the local animal shelter. She spends 15 hours a week hosing urine and feces out of kennels, touching and brushing homeless animals. I asked her why she did it when she could possibly get a paying job. She explained that these creatures, many who will be put down for lack of a forever home, needed to feel the tender touch of someone who cares about them, if only for a little while. She felt an urgent need to make sure they were well-nourished, to stroke their hair in comfort, if only for a few days. To be well-fed, even for a few days. She’s willing to give to an animal, that which has never been afforded her. There’s a deep sense of humanity in that, a state of grace, if you will. I’m grateful to the man who helps the wheelchair bound neighbor, the Down’s Syndrome boy and the poor shelter volunteer. That’s humanity. Each reminds me why America is an exceptional place. Each reminds me why it’s so very important to exercise your right to vote in November.
Our collective humanity depends on it.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.