Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Goin' On?

It is a beautiful sunny spring morning. The sun is brightly out. And the early blooming crocus, finding this irresistible, has peeked its way through the surface of this brown earth.

I stretch and look forward to throwing on a light weight jacket and getting out in this crisp morning and going for a walk with my dog. When I sit at my desk and watch the squirrels jump from maple tree to elm I feel the sense of warming that comes with spring and everything makes sense. When I step out on the porch all thoughts about politics and society or any thing other than the simple pleasure of this beautiful day are diminished.

It is easy on a morning like this one to forget about the human struggle for freedom. And to dismiss those whose futile obsession with power and control made them feel entitled to get away with more. It doesn't touch me here. It is easy to forget about the price that has been paid so that I can live freely on a morning like this one. It is so easy to disassociate myself from the union workers in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. And so easy to just relax for a minute and let the troubles of hard working people in the Midwest.... go.

I've been watching the news and reading some excellent articles on what is going on in Wisconsin, in particular. Some of the most egregious violations of the spirit of democracy and the practice of democracy I have ever seen in this county have been committed against the people of Wisconsin. In fact, it looks more like a coupe de tat than democracy going on there these days.

The Republican Governor Scott Walker,
a mouth piece for the Koch Brothers
who got rich by manufacturing aptly, toilet paper, among other things
and the other spineless go-alongs
who speak for who knows who else;
decided all on their own that the best course of action
was to take over the government in Wisconsin
under the guise that taking away all of the collective bargaining power of the rights of union workers was the only possible answer to the deficit problem Wisconsin was facing this year.

It didn't matter that the Democrats were so exasperated because the Republicans would not negotiate on this topic that they even left their state in order to stop the bill that takes away the worker’s rights to represent themselves collectively, from being passed.


Walker's response to the chaos he created was to send out the police to find and arrest the missing Democrats.

Then he and his buddies decided to pass legislation that would fine the Democrats $100 for everyday they were out of the state. In essence, they made it a crime for elected officials and representatives to disagree with them.

And then in their absense the Republicans got real clever and figured out that if they eliminated all of the rest of the bill on the budget and isolated the unions they could just snip the unions right out of existence. Being the only ones in the Senate they just passed the rules and regulations they needed that gave them unanimous permission to do whatever the hell they wanted.

Now on a beautiful day like today, we might sit back and ask, “What’s the big deal? Does this really matter?”

Well, yes this is a big deal and it matters. What is going on in Wisconsin really matters. It matters because we live in a democracy. It is a brilliant way of governing. It isn't perfect but that is in large part because we aren't perfect. But when it is working it is down right awesomeness.

Using the immortal words of the Green Bay Packers Coach, Vince Lombardi as a reference, "Everybody stop and gather around," he said. Then he knelt down, picked up the pigskin, and said, "Let's start at the beginning. This is a football. These are the yard markers. I'm the coach. You are the players."

So stop and gather around everybody, Democracy is a way of governing that gives everyone a voice. The beauty of democracy is we can vote. That is our right. And it is our responsibility to make sure our votes are tabulated and counted accurately so our voices are heard. We can even make a mistake and vote for people who don't have the slightest idea how precious our democracy is into office. And then, without even knowing all of the reasons why, we can vote that representative that is supposed to represent all of us out when they don't do their job.

We have the right to stand up and peacefully say, and repeat over and over again if necessary, we do not support you. You are not representing what we want. You are not representing us. Slow down bud, we are checking you.

The wisdom of our Constitution is that our forefathers understood that we needed to allow people with many points of view to express themselves in order to be flexible to change and function well as a society.

I've got to tell my llama story here. I used to have a farm. One of my favorite things to do was go out in the pasture with my llamas and relax. There was a huge tree and its branches extended far above us and gave us ample shade. I’d lay my head down on the side of one of my llamas and just feel the breeze. Over time I got to notice certain behaviors that I found really interesting. Whenever I sat down on the grass and put my head on the side of one of my llamas, another llama always stood up. Every time.

I also noticed that whenever they laid down in the pasture each llama faced a different direction. They were all keeping watch on an area of land. One watched north along the tree line. And another faced the south. One faced the wind into the west and another faced the east. They all casually took turns facing different directions but they always, without saying a word, had us completely covered. Even in the heat of the day when they were so still you'd think they were all meditating and in a state of nirvana; their noses would ever so slightly twitch for scents new and familiar in the air.

And this taught me something valuable about politics and about life in general. We are all pack animals of a sort. We have people we care about or identify with, some if we are lucky, may even be our family. And in order to live well, it is important that we all look out for each other.

The beauty of democracy is that it includes and involves each of us in its system. Every voter has the opportunity to take very seriously the responsibility they have in choosing the way they want to be represented by their government with their vote. That doesn't mean we have to live with the results if they don't work out. That means that our democracy is flexible enough for us to fix the boat while the boat's still running. This is a miraculous thing when you get to thinking about it.

This morning on TV the news reported 85,000 - 100,000 protestors demonstrated in Madison this Saturday. The local newspapers and police reported the numbers quite a bit higher. It was actually more like 150,000 people that showed up to let their government know that the boys on capital hill went too far. That taking away their right to represent themselves was not okay. And I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous sense of pride for the people in Madison.

So what's going on? This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. This is an American issue. During the last World War we learned that dictators and fascism doesn't work. Because the people have the undeniable need to be free. It is as essential as the air we need to breathe.

Back in the early 1900's and again in from 1938- 1945 every country involved in WWI and WWII learned that there were no winners in war. War is an awful thing. It leaves scars for generations. It destroys our families, our men and our women and children. It destroys everything we have built. And in the end, when everyone has grown tired of killing and all of the reasons that justified all of the cruelty have been forgotten and have fallen away from the pride that fed it; we must find our way back to a common ground. Some thing which is nearly impossible to do because of all of the hatred and sadness war leaves in its wake.

These are some really good films, to name a few, on the subject:

The Road to Stalingrad
The Rape of Europa
Is Paris Burning
And The Longest Day

We have seen that governments who turn on their own people can do terrible things and it can be a greater terrorist threat to its people than outsiders. How many people have been killed by their own countrymen during civil wars? How many people have been brutalized by their neighbors? How many crimes against humanity must we survive before we stop using these same old tactics to resolve our problems? Ask the people of Korea and Viet Nam and Japan and Tibet and China and Afghanistan and Iran and Iraq and Russia and Argentina and France and Ireland and England and Germany and the nations of South America and Africa and the Czech Republic, the Serbians and the Bosnians... was the cost really worth it? Ask all of the nations who have been ravaged by war and who have been victimizers...When the dust settled was it really worth it?

Using war and genocide as a problem solving tool only leads to smaller countries, more boundaries and more destruction.

It is easy to hate and to blame other people for our woes and failings. It is much harder to look at our own lives and say, “How am I doing today? Is my family or my co-worker or company or neighborhood or country better off today because of the choices I made? If not, how can I change my actions or priorities, so that the world I live in and the one I leave behind continues to be a beautiful healthy place to thrive?”

Look, it isn't rocket science. People have killed each other over territories, boundaries, religious beliefs and political philosophies for centuries. We can keep on trying to control one another and fight one another or we can try to learn something while we are here and do better now.

We don't need to be movie stars or rock stars or politicians or even very bright to appreciate this beautiful planet: To notice an amazing sunset or to feel a fresh cool breeze on a spring day.

A lot of people say we have to live a certain way and believe a certain way or we are damned to hell or to the lowest forms of servitude or to a void of nothingness because of our transgressions. They say they believe in God and yet kill their brothers and sisters and pollute the planet. The threat of an eternal burning hell or being out of favor with the gods or torture and death when we don’t line up with some political ideology hasn't stopped people from lashing out against each other.

So maybe its time we take a chance and dare to look at our existence in a new way. Just maybe it would be better if we focused on the lessons we need to face today and learn how to apply the best of what we know in our own lives. And once we do this, the world will change. We don't need revolutions and bloody wars. We just need to look inside for a minute and think.... “How'm I doing today?”

to you Madison, Wisconsin,
in spite of the government that has decided to do with you what it wants to do,
regardless of what your rights are or what your actions and voices are demonstrating;
I say, "Yes, you have done beautifully. And we are proud of you, of all of you. You are true Americans."

Madison's Largest Political Rally in History

Madison's Labor Demonstration Growing Larger and Spreading

No comments:

Post a Comment