It is not often that one can say; “we are living in truly historic times”. I believe these are very critical and special days. I never thought I would ever see Euros being accepted in stores on 5th Avenue, or my country conducting torture on innocent people in secret jails. I never thought I would live to see The United States bombing innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan on a pretense for fighting a fictitious “War on Terror”. I never thought I would experience the apparent beginning of the unraveling of the American financial power. Yes, these are truly historic moments.
Many of my fellow compatriots must be in shock, asking themselves; “what happened?” “I thought that we were number one?” I myself am in some disbelief upon learning of the fact that a number of the Premier American investment banks have failed. Places of high finance such as Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, AIG. And of course we must remember the recent bailout of Freddy Mack and Fanny Mae by the Federal government. Where is it going to end? Is there enough money in the US treasury to perform these bailouts? What happens if more banks fail? There is already word that Goldman Sachs may be in trouble and that a stake in Morgan Stanley is to be purchased by the Chinese Investment Company.
I don’t propose to have any financial answers but let me make a crucial point at this time. This is more of a plea to the regular citizens, the ones who do the work, and the ones who do the savings, the ones who have contributed to what used to be great about this country. Please do not lose hope but gain strength and some courage. It is time to ask our leaders some very serious questions. If this country is to survive intact, it is up to you and me to ask, to force our leaders to work for our well being.
Why is it so easy for the federal government to bail out investment banks that have gambled and lost, and is not able to provide health care for everyone in the country? We often hear that it would be too expensive, but we have just accrued billions worth of additional debt in order to save financial institutions whose management made bad decisions. The latest news states that the government is prepared to throw up to close to a Trillion dollars at the financial problem. I can think of so many ways we could improve our cities and infrastructure with that money instead of providing corporate welfare to prop-up some businesses that according to Capitalism, should be left to wither and be gobbled by other healthier businesses.
Why is it so easy for the government to spend billions of dollars per month on wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan and yet we still have not caught Bin Laden? After all, he is supposed to be the master mind of the attacks on 11 September. We are murdering innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Pakistan. Where does the madness end? Do our leaders feel that Asian people are less human than us? But I forget; President Bush forbade the photographing of returning soldier’s caskets, perhaps he believes that even our own servicemen are less than human as well.
Why is the US government promising to send Israel $30 billion dollars in the next 10 years? Some of those funds are to be used to build new illegal homes for Jewish families on stolen Palestinian land. Those funds will also facilitate the building of the Apartheid wall on the same stolen land. If we are so ready to pay for new homes for Jewish settlers why do we still have victims of the Katrina hurricane living in toxic trailers?
Why is it that most of the American politicians who value their careers have to parrot the same phrase: “We must defend Israel”? What does Israel do for me? I am not Jewish hence I can not get a new home and instant citizenship in Israel, nor would I want it. Does Israel pay for my bills? Does Israel bring me my mail? Does Israel pay for my student loans, credit cards, car loan? Will Israel provide my Social Security Checks when I retire? The answer is a resounding no to all those questions. I do not care about Israel, I do not live there and my taxes should instead be used to build new parks, cleaner factories, do more research on alternative energy sources in the USA. Our taxes should not be used to provide the latest weaponry to a country that has had an inordinate bellicose history and has invaded its neighbors numerous times. I don’t want my hard earned money being used by the Israeli war machine to subjugate and oppress the Palestinian people, on their own land.
Whether you subscribe to Thomas Moore’s Utopian vision or Jack London’s “Steel Heel” the truth is that this country is at a cross roads today. It is up to each individual citizen to forego his racist, myopic, religious, colorist, imperialistic beliefs and reach out to his fellow man. We should not be electing callous leaders such as Condoleezza Rice who thought it was “Too soon to begin talks for a cease fire” during the latest Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Nor should we give the reins of power to a cowardly man such as Alberto Gonzales, who did not have the moral courage to realize that torture is a crime and it is against the Geneva conventions of war. Nor should we elect mental clods such as Madeline Albright who famously stated that “A few hundred thousand dead Iraqi children was a good price to pay in order to keep the late Saddam Hussein under control”.
My fellow Americans, if we do not value the lives, dreams and culture of our fellow humans in Africa, Asia, Latin America, how can we expect the rest of the world to value us in return? If we project our fears and insecurities upon the world, don’t we risk it being flung back in our faces? No, the road to a better world and hence a better America is not through warfare but through compassion, respect and understanding. Our fear, racism and hatred as a nation are consuming our treasure, moral standing and future wellbeing, this very moment. If each of us does not make a decision to be a better man or woman how can things ever change at the top? Each of us must make some sacrifice and be more involved in the world around us. If we do not participate in this society, we run the risk of foregoing the right to do so. Remember that the government has already been spying on the general population, illegally.
We must elect leaders who are willing to serve all of the people and not their rich friends in the corporate boards from where they originated. But this is just a dream if each of us is unwilling to lift a finger and let the government know that they need to start working for us, the common folk. The alternative is a slow descent into a second rate nation such as what has happened to countless others, the history of the British, Spanish, French, Aztec empires should be a good reference.
Spanish ships used to crisscross the seven seas transporting spices, gold, silver, precious stones. Everything that her colonies could provide found its way to the mother land. But of course we also know that the once Great Spain suffered a precipitous decline partly because of constant warfare and lack of investment in the infrastructure. I think that we are facing the same precipice today, if we continue on this orgy of violence and hatred towards any country that is not on board with us, we as a nation face a bleak future. I hope that I am wrong, for the world’s sake.