Friday, November 24, 2006

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US?

I had planned to write about the supposed call for bipartisanship by the Republican Leadership (amazing how you suddenly become bipartisan when your side gets thrashed in the last election), but something more important intruded. I was watching television, and right there on my tv was a commercial for Citgo offering people who couldn't afford heating oil a 40% discount. To say the least, it made me take notice. Not just because Hugo Chavez was doing what he said he was going to do (and everyone knows Chavez is the great South American Boogeyman), but because of what we in our own country are not willing to do: we are not willing to help the working poor.

It's ironic that the richest nation ever, richer by far than the British Empire was, does not take care of its own and has to rely on the generosity of Venezuela for heating oil for its less fortunate brethren. Its ironic that a devout Christian President sees no problem with taking away opportunities from those less fortunate than himself, for people who did not get born with the right family connections. Its ironic that devout Evangelicals spend thousands of dollars to advertise against the supposed sin of homosexuality and abortion but do nothing to try to help alleviate the poverty of millions of our fellow citizens. 16% of school-aged children live in poverty, meaning they don't have proper nutrition, proper supervision, or the benefits of stable family life. Yet we wonder why they cannot learn. Republicans and Democrats both demand stricter school policies, better test scores, more accountability by teachers, but what about the accountability of our society for what we do to the working poor and the disenfranchised of our country. What about our accountability?

We talk a good game about equality of opportunity, but where is that really? How do you get an equal chance at the Gold ring when you're hungry, you're cold, you're tired, and you're worried about whether or not you'll survive until the next day? How much potential are we destroying simply through negligence? How many young people out there could possibly chnage our world but will never get the chance because we don't believe in helping our own? Becuase we believe that if you are poor or underfed or cold, it's your fault. Even if you happen to be six years old.

It's the Holidays, and for the next month or so, we'll all pay lipservice to the poor and the disenfranchised. But what happens when the holidays are over? Do we go back to forgetting, or do we actually remember those in need and try to help? Do we let Hugo Chavez be our conscience, or do we finally have a concience of our own?

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