Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Taking Responsibility for Getting Stung

When I was in pre-school, kindergarten and first grade, I attended a Montessori School in Raleigh, NC. It was on the outskirts of the city, so we had a beautiful plot of land that had woods, meadows and streams to play in. Sometimes we would play "Capture the Flag" or hide in the woods, but mostly we would just hike around the diverse landscape.

One summer, a friend and I were enjoying the sunlight and racing through the meadows of the school. I believe his name was Gabe. I don't remember too much about him even though he was one of my best friends at the time. But I remember this particular day because as we were running back to the school building, he decided to run along a stream bed and stepped in a yellow jacket nest. (Yellow jackets often nest underground.) He continued to run, while I, who was running a few yards behind him was swarmed and stung multiple times. When we got back to the building, my teacher applied some Aloe that she had growing in the classroom, but I remember thinking that it was unfair that my friend hadn't been stung when I hadn't been the one who stepped in the hive. Looking back later, I changed my position--he had made sure I got back to the classroom to get treated, so beyond the freak accident, he had done his best.

But what if he hadn't? What if every other week he stepped in a new nest and I was always the one left to deal with the consequences?

This is what I feel like when I look at the folks who are running the country. They step in the same pitfalls again-and-again as they privatize needed services, but they are never the ones who have to deal with the consequences--only the poor or the people who come after them do.

I find it highly ironic that to criticize the current administrations policies or wars is called "unpatriotic" these days. What about the belief that our shared government cannot provide basic human services as well as some company that is trying to make money off of us? What could be more "unpatriotic" than that?

When you look at an issue like public heating (the current campaign I'm working on) or health care or social security, the yellow jacket nest is not even a full analogy. A better analogy would be if my friend had somehow made a couple million dollars every time he stepped in a hive and was spending it while I was fighting off yellow jackets.

The point of this is not to vilify those who are making crazy money off of neglecting others. It's not even to vilify the politicians who are supposed to be representing us who keep selling us up the river. It's to point the finger at ourselves. It's time that we keep making the same mistake over and over again--trusting people who never really cared about us in the first place. It's time that we decided if we really care about ourselves, each other and our country in general. If not, by all means, stay the course. If we really care, we must prepare ourselves to fight.

What you can do:
Get informed on privitization and come to your own conclusions. Find politicians that support your position. Harrass those that don't. Organize those around you--help them make connections: it's easy to get cheap health care in public health care systems/privitized human rights means that some poor people are not treated as human, etc.


Blogger Matthew said...

Your talk of privatization of services which should be handled by the government got me to thinking about the whole Social Security privatization push that Bush & Co. are working on.

I was wondering what your opinion is of Bush's bold tactic of gathering African-Americans around, and telling them that SS isn't the best option for them, as their life expectancies are lower than others, so they don't reap the benefits of it as much?

What do you think of that?

10:47 AM  
Blogger xian said...

I think it's similar to gathering around Asian American men and telling them, "You should support my initiative to set a 100% sales tax on condoms because you aren't getting any anyway!"

It might be true on one racist, stupid level, but that doesn't mean we should base policy on it instead of trying to address the racial inequities.

After all, many of Bush's own policies are likely to increase the life expectancy gap between ethnic groups.

Finally, it doesn't really matter, since if his group's history is any indication, the money will be burning a hole in Dick Cheney's pocket long before any of us would ever think of retiring.

5:18 PM  

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