This is the time of year when I once envied football fans. I thought it was pretty wonderful that they could so casually shrug off the cares of the world around them and throw themselves whole-heartedly into a sports contest. It seemed to me that it was a grand thing to be in such superb control of one’s emotions that they could be shifted to and fro at will. I no longer envy them. Nowadays, I merely regret that sports events are a part of that ever-growing list of cultural anomalies that prevent us from all being on the same page when assessing our national priorities. There’s something about the outcries from sports or soap opera devotees when their television offerings are interrupted with important news bulletins that are very unsettling.
I guess that’s why I can understand people who feel they can get away with anything in this country. Other than the fact that most people think it is wrong to steal, there seem to be few restraints to keep people from dipping their fingers into other people’s money. I can certainly understand employers using video cameras to keep an eye on their employees. There was a time when I would have been outraged by that kind of behavior, but in these times when employees have to submit urine specimens to be tested for drugs, the whole landscape of the workplace has changed. A friend was telling me the other day that when she went shopping at one of the nation’s largest retail stores in the city and asked if she could leave her shopping bag with one of the employees at the counter, she was told that because of the high rate of employee theft, this practice had been discontinued. One wonders, of course, who’s watching the bosses.
I’m not sure anymore whether it is a good or bad thing to keep up with what’s going on. When one has so little control over what’s happening in the country, one might just as well enjoy a football game or soap opera since a letter to members of Congress will probably net nothing in return.
I hope we will be spared a lengthy presidential campaign. As far as many of us are concerned, it’s a one-party election with the two sides assuming separate names. Of course, both sides will spend a lot of money since it is only the working class who are experiencing the troubled economy. If the gap between the rich and the poor was narrower, the rich would know by now that the recession is still on. At this pace, it may take another couple of years before they realize that the companies they moved overseas are producing products that workers in America can no longer afford to purchase.
When the national media served as the people’s watchdog we could at least count on them to let us know how bad off we really are. Now that they are in the employ of the rich corporations, we can expect all the bad news to be painted over with a happy face. And that works well for all those who insist on thinking positively about the negative.
So, in the end, I’m not sure whether I’d rather sink on a ship with those who choose to look the other way while the water’s pouring in or with those who see the water pouring in and pretend it’s a water fountain. As far as I’m concerned, this is what we are doing — sinking.
My old spiritual adviser would say this is the point where religion and ethics come in to play. In situations such as we see today, we all need to ask ourselves what the individual’s responsibility is when the society seems to have turned on itself and sacrificed its principles for the sake of power and money. I don’t mind saying I would be willing to see the powers who guide us play their game out to the end, except that the innocent would undoubtedly suffer with the guilty. Therefore, I think it’s important for people to keep speaking out even when they are silenced and keep asking questions even when no one answers them.
This period in our country’s history is going to pass like all other periods preceding it. Some people understand the necessity of setting an example of responsible citizenship. This means just as you continue to pay your taxes you also continue to care for the sick and the poor, monitor your schools and neighborhoods and contribute what you can to your community. Even if you have to write in a name on the ballot, you go to the polls and you participate in the process because the right to vote is the centerpiece of the democracy. I’m convinced that if enough people stand firm and refuse to sell out to political self-interests, the people will ultimately prevail.
Maybe not in my lifetime, but perhaps in the lifetime of today’s children, this system will right itself. I truly believe that where there’s life, there’s hope.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.