Friday, January 21, 2005

Questions of Authority

Each day, a shimmering lure is dangled before us, enticing and dangerous. It usually comes cloaked in a special code word, like "reform," and promises great rewards. But there's always a catch. We are asked for a favor in return.

On Social Security, we are asked to walk away from a guaranteed retirement system that grants independence to our parents. We are asked to cast future generations adrift, leaving them to the cold mercies of heartless market tides.

On education, we are asked to look the other way as our schools fade from bright communities of learning and creativity into bland and dreary testing factories, designed to make themselves look good at the expense of our children.

On poverty, we are asked to ignore the exodus of jobs, as if every last penny of corporate profit is more important than food in a child’s stomach. We are asked to cast aside those who have fallen on hard times, as if lending a hand to a neighbor contaminates us both.

On health care, we are asked to desert the sick, as if they are unworthy of wellness. We are asked to cover our ears, shutting out the stories of loss and pain and grief, as if sharing the burden would diminish us.

On freedom, we are asked to toss aside the lessons of history and carve up the bill of rights, leaving nothing more than a flimsy lacework of meaningless words. We are asked to trade the Founding Fathers’ enduring legacy for a mirage that could be mistaken for safety.

On justice, we are asked to abandon our friends, our family and our neighbors to the cold accounting of corporate lawyers, as they seek to profit from products they know are dangerous … or deadly. In torture chambers and newly-constructed gulags, we are asked to forsake the innocent, sacrificing them on the alter of security, as if the shedding of their blood could magically vanquish the guilty.

On war, we are asked to close our eyes to destruction and lies. We are asked to cower in the face of evil, like frightened children at the hand of a tyrant. We are asked to step aside and be silent as the juggernaut of death unleashes its unholy terror on countless helpless innocents.

We are each asked to stand alone, to withdraw our personal strings from the fabric of the Great Society and prepare the loom for the Raw Deal.

In all these ways, we are asked to walk out on our commitment to each other, so that those who need the least can gain the most.

But That is not Who We Are

We are the citizens of the United States of America.

We know better than to look away.

We have the strength to challenge those who would ask us to sacrifice our principles for personal gain.

We have the power to defy those who would ask us to give up our freedom, those who would ask us to smother our bravery beneath the dark shadows of fear.

We know right from wrong, and more importantly, we know how to stand up for what’s right. The time has come to stand together, arm in arm, and fight for what we believe.

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