Beginning a fresh year to the drumbeats of war and recession isn't the way most of us would like to get off to a new start. As individuals and families, I guess we'll just have to carve a new frontier for ourselves.
Next week we will be celebrating the 80th birthday of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For many of us who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, this will be a different kind of celebration. With the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on the day following King's birthday, we will be able to acknowledge that a measure of the civil rights leader's dream has been realized.
While we recognize that there are many people who have not yet crossed the big racial divide and are still caught up in black/white issues, I really think that trying to go back and drag them over is not something that most of us are willing to do. It's been my experience that people who have not moved past racial divisiveness by now may never do so, and so those of us who are willing to move on should keep going.
With Hispanics as the fastest growing minority, it won't be long before both white and black people will make up the smallest groups in the country. So the sooner we begin to look beyond skin colors, the faster we will be able to concentrate on the quality of life issues that affect us all.
At present we are caught up in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and a horrific conflict in the Middle East. Our unemployment rates are climbing higher and higher. People are continuing to lose their homes to foreclosure, and there is no end in sight. If ever there was a moment in our history when we need to stand together as one people, this is it.
So, some of us will be celebrating Jan. 19 as a day of recovery when we shed the historically ugly garments of our past and don the wardrobe of our future. We want to begin to see one another as fellow strugglers in our efforts to break the bonds of financial distress and begin to work toward a promising tomorrow where we can feed our families and enjoy the benefits of affordable health coverage.
Our present crisis informs us that we have no time left for minor trivialities. We need to be using all the time we have available to helping each other overcome the various problems each of us are facing. In these difficult days it's hard to remember that eight years ago when this present administration took control we had a budget surplus.
After that election and the one following it, people insisted that they elected this administration because the politicians were conservative. In those days the leaders of the two parties were talking in terms of millions and billions. Today, they are talking in terms of trillions.
Of course, a lot of the budget was used to fund the war in Iraq in which nothing of value has been gained. In the opinion of many people, the Bush administration's legacy will be that they left the country in the worst mess it has been in since the Great Depression.
In the meantime, a lot of us have had all of the free market our pocketbooks can stand. And I know how so many financial types are married to that idea, but I can't understand how much longer the market can stay free when we have to continue to borrow billions from countries like China. One would have to be pretty naive if they think our debtors are going to lend us all that money without conditions. And it stands to reason if any of them request immediate payment we are in a world of trouble.
And one thing is for sure: "We the people" are going to have to demand more regulations and also more watchful regulators. People keep asking how this Bernie Madoff got away with his Ponzi scheme right under the SEC's nose. Well obviously, these money people are all so buddy-buddy that they can get away with anything. This proves we need independent regulators that are kept accountable at all times.
The new president will certainly have his hands full trying to mop up the mess his predecessor left. He is going to need all of us to do our part to try to pull this country out of the trouble it is in. So, those who want to play partisan politics are choosing a bad time to play that kind of game. Some of us are still hoping that the day will soon come when a third party will come on the scene. But for the time being, we will all have to pull together on the same end of the rope.
The country's future is at stake. First and foremost, we are all Americans. Together, let us march to the finish line.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.