THINKING GLOBALLY, ACTING LOCALLY
Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all the loyal readers of the Empathic Rationalist. I hope it has been as relaxing – or as exciting – as you had planned it to be. For me, thank God, it has been the former.
I also hope that none of you got trampled or pepper sprayed at Wal-Mart. As for me, not only did I not go to Wal-Mart, but I visited no retail establishment. Nor did I try to buy anything on-line. Despite all the new technological wizardry that is available in the marketplace, the older I get, the less I want to acquire things. At least from a consumer standpoint, as the world moves deeper and deeper into the 21st century, I seem hell-bent on returning to the 18th or 19th.
Speaking of returning to the 18th or 19th centuries, one thing I am certainly not thankful for is this year’s crop of Republican Presidential candidates. Many of them seem to have acquired some kind of time machine – and unfortunately, it can only take us in one direction, backwards. For example, the candidates seem to have little if any appreciation for the value of government. Thank God the nation’s roadways were built already, or I don’t know how we’d ever travel anywhere. And though I appreciate the emphasis on tax reform, it’s disturbing that none of the candidates seem to have any appreciation at all for the idea of progressive taxation. These candidates are more concerned about fairness to the rich than they are about fairness to the poor.
We probably all have our own votes as to when this campaign season hit its low point. Rick Perry’s “oops” moment? The sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain -- followed by his tone-deaf reference to Representative Pelosi as “Princess Nancy”? Personally, my vote would go to the reaction after Newt Gingrich pointed out during the last debate that we wouldn’t want to deport an illegal alien who has lived in the U.S. for 25 years, has children and grandchildren here, pays his or her taxes and goes to church. What sane person could argue with that comment? Well Michelle Bachmann did, but then again, she is everybody’s favorite Stepford wife. Perhaps a bit more surprising was the criticism by the “moderate” Mitt Romney. Then again, Mitt’s views have more flexibility than most gymnasts, and while he does come across as sane, his sanity is eclipsed only by his opportunism. But what was worst of all was listening to the talking heads on TV the day after the debate, who were piling on about how Gingrich made the same “mistake” that Rick Perry previously made in attempting to show compassion for illegal aliens. Frankly, it sounds like compassion has no more place in the Republican party. Soon, a Republican candidate won’t even be able to show compassion for a fetus.
As an antidote to the Dickensian drift of the Republican Party, I’d like to post a video of an event I helped organize and that was held precisely one week ago. The event had two purposes – to bring together Jewish and Muslim youth, and to help the homeless. It lasted three hours and was held at the Washington DC homeless shelter run by the Community for Creative Non-Violence (a/k/a Mitch Snyder’s place). A friend made a 40-minute video of the event, which includes snippets of talks by Jewish and Muslim clergy as well as homeless advocates, and portions of prayers sung by my daughter, Hannah. You can find the video at www.jids.org If you can get past its home-made production quality, I think you’ll find it interesting.
I sent a copy of the video to one of my Republican friends, and he asked me why we were bothering to go to a “flop house” and work with the “bums” who lived there. This is the reality in which we now live – even helping the homeless is considered as a waste of time, and the homeless themselves are thought of as trash. Sometimes, I feel that this country is like a magnificent, opulent boat that is heading straight toward an iceberg. What I don’t know is whether there is still enough time to change course and where we can find a captain with the guts to do it.