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COLUMN: Politicians blind to changing population

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

In this day, when almost any position a person takes can lead to the brink of a third war, I’m thrilled to acknowledge that beyond the fact that I learned a smidgeon about the Ice Age in school, I know absolutely nothing about climate change. Therefore, I feel no obligation to weigh in when the subject comes up, socially. I find it amazing the way every topic imaginable becomes politically divisive, these days. The debaters who claim the opinion of some television pundit, I think, are the most annoying and there seems to be plenty of them.

I also have no opinion on how the Nobel committee should interpret Alfred Nobel’s wishes, and I have not ever had one thought about Tiger Woods’ personal life. I’m surprised the pro- and anti-Santa Claus believers have not yet come to blows, publicly. As far as I’m concerned, anytime I’m in the presence of others and somebody expresses an opinion, I sit by and wait a few minutes before speaking in case anybody wants to challenge the speaker.

In any case, not having to spend any time engaging in cold-water arguments, I can concentrate on spending the last few days of the year in contemplation. I like to spend time reflecting about the changes in my life and my world and how they have affected me over the past 12 months and consider the lessons learned and how I can apply them in the future.

In spite of the fact that the beginning of the current year saw the inauguration of the country’s first biracial president (I still find it unsettling that so many people can’t get beyond his skin color.), we are still governed by an ill-serving two-party system that is determined to take the country back into the dark ages. It is virtually unbelievable that those who oppose health-care reform don’t seem to understand that, whatever the case, it will be the taxpayers who will ultimately have to bear the burden for caring for the uninsured, the underinsured and all other sick people in this country. Letting the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry off the hook is plainly stupid. So, while the right to vote was a heartily fought battle for women and minorities, I see nothing to be gained by voting until the political system reforms itself.

But apparently the politicians, in their pretense of representing the people, are unaware of the changing population. The growing number of third-generation family members who are biracial or multiracial as well as immigrants who are minorities are not only changing the face of America, they are changing the attitudes and practices of older members of their families. Politicians cannot take for granted that these folks will adhere to the political preferences of previous generations. Also, many people respect and accept the sexual orientation of family members, friends and their fellow citizens regardless of prohibitive statutes and laws. Those who have expectations for future public service need to get acquainted with the new public because so many of those old prejudices and attitudes that were once so prevalent in American society have fallen away. In other words, those who relied on people of their own color, race, sex or sexual orientation to support their opinions and beliefs may find that is no longer so.

So, I feel that we, Americans, are becoming more accepting of each other and more appreciative of our differences. In this way, my world has become better. I wish that were true in other ways. But the level of violence, especially family violence, that has become so much a part of our daily lives makes me sad. Random violence committed on groups of people makes the world less safe for all of us.

Child pornography and abduction is another area that needs cleaning up as does smut-peddling in general. Here again though, I don’t expect these things to stop until the perpetrators are made to stop. My greatest fear is that we will be a country that destroys itself by abusing its freedoms.

That may sound like an impossibility until you measure our level of freedoms against our literacy level. But whether anyone wants to accept it or not it takes a certain amount of education to understand the need to use one’s freedoms wisely and responsibly. I don’t see that happen often enough.

I hope when the economy is back in shape, people will think of it as a second chance. If they do, maybe we can take the time to straighten out a few other things.

May Christmas bring peace and joy to your house.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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