Norma Sherry: What Price Glory?
What Price Glory?
By Norma Sherry
Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Do you feel safer? Is your job more secure or are you among the more than three million workers without a job and without any hope of a job? Have you lost your pension or 401K due to corporate malfeasance?
Do you have a nest egg saved for emergencies or are you one mortgage payment away from losing it all? Or are you one of the nearly two-million Americans who filed for personal bankruptcy last year? Are your children getting the finest education your taxes paid for or will they become one of the 50 million adults considered functionally illiterate?
Are you among the top percentage of wealthy Americans' who benefited from President Bush's tax relief or are you the remaining majority just scraping by? Or do you fall into the Federal Reserve Board's 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances that indicates that nearly 10 million households or 9.2% of Americans' do not have a bank account of any kind? Or perhaps you are one of the 32% of families that earn less than $15,000 a year.
Are you counted among the one-quarter of the United States population, perhaps, who, if you had to live only on your net worth, savings, home equity, and other assets, would survive at the poverty level for only three months? Or worse yet, if only your liquid assets were considered, your poverty rate would jump to nearly 40 percent.(1)
Do you have health insurance for you and your family or are you among the 42 million Americans' who can't afford medical insurance? Are you a senior citizen, a disabled individual, or anyone living on a fixed income who can't afford to both eat and buy your prescribed medications?
Are you one of the hundred's of thousands of families that run out of money before the month runs out and has nothing left to feed the children? Is your child among the 28 million American children that go to bed hungry, or malnourished, or downright starving? Are you a working mother who can't afford child care? Are you a two-parent-working family and yet you still can't make ends meet?
Are you one of the ex-employees of Enron, or Worldcom who lost your entire savings with no hope of any financial recompense? Are you one of the investors in the now defunct, overrated dot com's? Perhaps you're one of the more lucky citizens who actually have money to invest; are you earning a whopping two or 3% on your CD? Is it locked up at that handsome rate for ten years?
Do you feel safe with the state of our meat? Are you relieved to know that your children are only ingesting safe levels of pesticides and antibiotics in their fruits and vegetables? Are you contented to know that if your child were to contract Pneumonia or Rubella, or Spinal Meningitis that there's a high probability there won't be an antibiotic that your child hasn't become insensitive to rendering it useless?
Are you confident that your water is safe? Are you okay that toxic wastes by corporations are spilling into our water and poisoning our earth without any fear of penalty? Are you confident you will have money to live out your old-age in dignity? Are you comfortable with the likelihood that you won't be able to afford to retire at sixty-five?
Are you confident you'll be hired at sixty-five, and if so, to do what and for how much? Are you sure you'll be well enough, strong enough, energetic enough to do so? Are you comfortable that all the monies you've paid into social security will be there for you when it's your time to avail yourself of them?
Are you able to keep up with your rising home insurance premiums, property taxes, employment taxes, and college tuition? Do you see any signs of relief from your elected representatives or your president?
Do you think it is the job of your president, your representatives, to make sure that your best interests are put before all else? Does spending billions of dollars a day to re-instate Iraq to its pre-attack state sit well with you? Are you at all concerned that these billions of dollars could be bettering the lives of American citizens - easing your burdens?
Is it okay with you that our president and his entire cabinet lied to us about Saddam Hussein and his Weapons of Mass Destruction?
What are we teaching our children - to lie is okay? Not so long ago we had a president that lied about his sexual escapades. An audible gasp ensued and his honor was destroyed. He looked into the camera and lied to our faces. His reputation was forever tarnished and impeachment hearings resulted.
Yet, now we have a president that not only lied to us, but in so doing put us all in harm's way. His lies sent our children, our fathers and sons and daughters to war - some never to return. On a lie built on a lie we are now spending billions of dollars a month to rebuild a nation we had no need to destroy. It is estimated that we will spend upwards of $200 billion before we're done.
Do you remember as I that we were told that post-war Iraq "Will not require sustained aid," or when the president's top reconstruction official at the State Department assured us, "The American part of [reconstruction] will be $1.7 billion and we have no plans for further-on funding of this"?
I don't know about you, but it makes me yearn for the days when the object of the presidential shaft was not the country at large, but a starry-eyed intern.
We are all in this together. Together we can make a difference. It's time my fellow Americans - for time is running out. These are the days that history will record as either the turning point when the populace stood up and made a conscientious decision to take back their country - or that they dropped the ball and allowed themselves to be led down the path of no return.
We need to change the tide of the abuses and the lies here, at home, as well as, how we are seen through the eyes of the world. We have much to make up for and we have many fences to repair. Regrettably, we are not the great emancipators; we are not the envy of the world, nor is it our way of life and our love of freedom that our enemies detest. Our history is quite to the contrary.
It is not always easy to go deep inside and see who we really are, but if we don't remove our rose-colored glasses, our click-your-heels-I'm-back-in-Kansas mentality, we are destined to repeat our sordid history. It is time for all citizens who love their country, who detest totalitarianism, who truly want to be the model for humanity to step up to the plate and become active participants in their democracy.
We're going to have to be willing to amend and mend our ways. Otherwise, how are we to be trusted in a world that has witnessed our lies - not just now in Iraq -- but in Viet Nam, in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, in Rwanda, in Iran, in Iraq in years past? Our history, as a nation, does not always bode well. Too often we ignored the covert and overt actions of our country; the overthrowing of democratically-elected leaders to orchestrate the control of a corrupt puppet government.
We have too long turned a deaf ear and a blind eye. Our leaders have betrayed our innocence, our gullibility, our willingness to accept what we're told. We can no longer feign ignorance. Not knowing is no longer an option. It is time that we enacted our citizenship and acted upon it with meaningfulness.
We can no longer willingly be 'the good little children'. It's time to stand up, stand tall, and speak out loud and let every voice be heard. We must face our wrongdoings and we must make up for the atrocities that have been allowed and ignored in our name. We need to take back our country.
We need to open our minds and put aside our individual preconceived notions. We need to read our history - not that of our history books, but that which is readily available. We need to take our heads out of the sand and examine who we are; we need to be willing to see the naked truth that will surely stare back at us.
We need to want peace more than war. We need to want to be true liberators' not oppressors. We need to want to help our fellow humankind not lord over. We need to learn humility and the true defining of justice and halt our sense of undeserved superiority. We have to acknowledge our role as a nation as a purveyor of violence, as a collaborator in injustices and brutal regimes, as a military strong-arm holding the world at ransom, as a selfish, gloating preeminence of extreme wealth and gluttony.
These are harsh words I know and many of my fellow citizens will balk and resort to calling me names: unpatriotic, traitor. For some, you will deem me a vile, un-American. There will be some of you who will write me and tell me 'to leave if you're not happy'. But I say, it is precisely because I do love my country and my fellow American's that my heart aches; that my eyes burn from the onslaught of tears from the truths I've come to learn.
It is from all I've come to know as true that I beg each and every one of you who graces these words with your eyes to take them to heart -- to examine the truth for yourselves. It is out there pleading and imploring you to seek it for yourselves. Then, dear fellow Americans, we need to start exercising our rights as citizens of this rich, lush country of ours. We need to begin by voting.
Your vote, our votes can bring about a revolution of change. We began this war; it is up to us to put an end to the deaths, to the fighting. If we do not, ".The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."2
We must raise every man, woman, and child to a life of dignity, of safety, of comfort, security, warmth, and end the pangs of hunger that growl in the tummy of the hungry. No longer can we ignore the well-being of others. Or as Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently prophesied, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Every American citizen must help to energize and educate their fellow man, woman, and child. Ignorance, dear friends, is not bliss. "If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight." 3
1. Haveman, R. & Wolff, E. (2001). Who are the Asset Poor? Levels, Trends, and Composition
2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
3. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
© Norma Sherry 2004
Bio: Norma Sherry is co-founder of Together Forever Changing, an organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer and host of upcoming television program, The Norma Sherry Show. Her Email: firstname.lastname@example.org