Many things are weighing on my mind, it is nearly impossible to turn on the television, open a newspaper or even look at social media without being bombarded by the most recent human tragedy. The problem I have is the magnitude of those tragedies; our response, as a nation and frankly as human beings saddens me. I am not a Christian, I do though subscribe to some basic tenets of the Christian system, this is my favorite:
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.
Matthew 25:31-46 parables of the Sheep and the Goats
I find myself in a quandary as I consider our current national and international crises and the response of our citizens to them. We are a nation full of individuals who presume to call themselves Christian, who gather together and stand on their Bibles demanding their Rights and Privileges using their Christianity as a justification for what I consider mean, ugly and nasty behavior toward those in need. It seems we are a nation that has forgotten the basics of compassion, empathy and humanity toward our fellow man, while standing on a shaky platform of Christianity.
“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”
Lyndon B. Johnson
I have been less than impressed by our response to the refugee problem at our borders, make no mistake this is nothing other than a refugee problem. Women and children, in some cases children alone, fleeing violence begging for safe haven, only to be met by screaming xenophobes telling them to turn around, die, starve no matter just go home. We helped create the problems in Central America, our money, our bankers and money laundering and our ‘War on Drugs’, we did this1. This nation helped create the cesspools these children are escaping from, where their lives are in danger, where they live in poverty so terrible none of us could possibly imagine even in our worst nightmare. We did this and some of us have the audacity to stand before buses and on borders, demanding they be turned away. We did this, yet governors of Border States find nothing wrong with patrolling with guns drawn and calling out the National Guard to shoot them as they come toward us, hands out begging for shelter and aid.
Our President has found himself between a rock and a very hard place. Following a law signed by his predecessor, he is vilified by those who believe he is opening the borders to ‘thugs, criminals and disease ridden children’. With Congress taking Comprehensive Immigration Reform off the table for this year, everyone has something to say, it makes me wonder when some of these cretins will simply fade into the woodwork and shut the hell up. Everyone has an opinion, not a single one of them, from Hannity to West shows a bit of compassion, their snark and ugly shows only a partisan standard line of attack on the President, on those fleeing the violence and poverty we helped to create. Everyone who speaks up, attacking those in need and the President claims Christianity as their Rock, their guiding light yet fails to remember CHARITY, COMPASSION and LOVE for their fellow man as the foundation of that faith.
I have been anything but impressed; truthfully, I have been stunned by the actions of the city of Detroit’s Water Department. The city is in bankruptcy seeking any all means to pull themselves out of dire financial straits. The problem with this solution is, water is both a fundamental human requirement of life and according to the United Nations a Human Right2, apparently the city manager and the head of the Water Department in Detroit didn’t get that memo. It has been suggested by some, famous and otherwise, those who do not pay their water bills can simply ‘tote’ their water from the lakes and rivers nearby. Others have suggested those private citizens who are not paying their water bills are doing so while they choose to pay other less necessary household expenses, such as cable and medicine. While the city cuts services to thousands of private residences they are remise in cutting services to businesses that owe hundreds of thousands, even the State that at last look owed $5M.3
To my mind, Detroit is a test ground for what the rest of the nation can and will become if we don’t stop this attack on basic human rights and humane treatment of our fellow man, now. This is an attack on at least two levels; one is the basic human level where those who have will continue to have (see Peter Brabeck-Letmathe4 and his assessment of what is a human right about access to water), the other is a continuation on the attack on women in particular. Wonder how this is an attack on women? How will women, in particular, be affected by a crisis of this nature, look at the world and ask yourself this question who will tote that water, who will be left to care for sick children affected by unsanitary conditions? Take women out of the workforce, cripple them economically and shove them backwards educationally, as a nation we are broken, we become the dreamscape of the nutjobs on the Far Right, a land of hopelessness for millions starting with women and extending to everyone else not of their liking.5
For those who think racism and sexism are things of the past, think again. These are simply two stark reminders we are living in a nightmare reality only brought to a screaming head in 2008 by the election of Barack Obama. Every single xenophobic fear was outed when he shot to the office of President seemingly out of nowhere and fulfilled the hopes of those of us who believed he could begin to undo what eight years of the Bush / Cheney nightmare had done to this nation. His election flung wide the closet doors of all those who previously had agreed to keep their bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia and simple lack of core morality under the covers in favor of social acceptance. Of course, since the days of Ronald Reagan the Right had been working toward this moment, when White Sheets in the form of a well-tailored suit would find acceptance on the national stage and even a man or woman of color would join in the decimation of our nation, our civil rights and our laws.
Congress does nothing day by day but spends our money on conspiracy theories, threats of impeachment and lawsuits against the President; we sit back and shake our heads but do nothing. The Senate shuts down the government, deadlocks over things both vital and trivial; we sit back and do nothing. SCOTUS is bought and paid for, stripping us of our rights one by one; we do nothing but bitch and whine.
How do we change this trajectory of the United States becoming a feudalistic state? We stand up, get up off our apathetic asses and demand change. We engage locally, we stop whining and we start doing something, including Voting. We write letters. We go to City Council meetings. We hook up with local organizations and throw our name out there to volunteer.
Dammit we engage and we VOTE.
I leave you with this, I think it is appropriate for today.
5 Sanitation facts: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation
5 Hygiene facts: http://www.wateraid.org/us/the-water-story/the-crisis/sanitation