Saturday, October 23, 2010

Remembering How Far We Have Come

Good Saturday Morning,

I have been thinking a lot about 'the value of it all' lately. I blog because I enjoy it - I don't make money from it, I don't expect to change the world because of it and I am not normally affected in a negative manner by those who disagree with my personal or political beliefs. They are, after all, my thoughts and feelings and I am proud to stand by them. I spend my precious time putting my blog out there in thoughtful terms and I expect nothing in return except common respect. Well, I confess that I did take offense to the demeaning comments I received from an anonymous reader regarding my remarks about President Obama's visit the other day - I have never been compared to Adolf Hitler or had my work ethic smeared by those who don't agree with my lifestyle . It seems that, in these very political times, there is a fear projected by the lies and deception of those who would have their own beliefs forced on the rest of us. This tiny occurrence is nothing compared to the crap that our elected statesmen are forced to endure just to serve the people who voted them in. I don't see how they they can do it.

It seems our society is losing its way again and civility is a casualty of this morass. Truth is bleeding and near death. I am nearly 58 years old and I am proud as an American to say that I have voted in every federal and state election since I was 18. I have almost always voted for Progressive causes and I am proud of that also. I remember the fear of the McCarthy era, the sweat on my teacher's faces when the atomic sirens went off in school and we jumped under the desks, I remember my parents discussing the election of 1960 - my mothers defense of Nixon and my fathers military friends talking in the garage about John Kennedy's war service. My father and I stood on different ground most of the time, he was a decorated Navy Seal and a 'Zero Defect Man' (he checked H-B0mbs every night for the Strategic Air Command) and I was a Hippie. I also remember driving our black nanny home to the 'black side of town' when I was 16. Riding the city bus and seeing the black people in the back and even watching the whites hold their breath while the blacks walked by. I lived in rural Ohio for 20 odd years and never once saw an inter-racial couple. I bussed tables at the local hotel/restaurant when I was 12 years old for 0.65 cents an hour for 2 years and never once saw a black, yellow or red person enter to eat.I remember where I was when Kennedy was murdered and the flat headed bigots at the local gas station telling me that it was God's punishment for his policies. I did not really understand what they meant. I worked my way through middle and high school washing dishes at the local hospital with an all white staff. Around this time I met a girl who was half Japanese and we had our first touch of young love. All of my friends warned me that she was a spy, a slant eye and I should stay clear of her and I clearly remember how we were refused service at a local restaurant. I worked my way through two years of carpentry college at a foundry that made defense parts for fighter jets and icbm's. I made good money making things I did not believe in and paid lots and lots taxes that helped fund the war machine that Ike had warned us about. I bought into the system, married, got a house and bought lots of stuff on credit, easy, complacent - unaware but choosing to bury my head in the sand. My sports car became more important than my ideals.
Then, the game changer. In April of '74 a vicious tornado ripped apart my hometown, my house, my face and we lost our 7 month old unborn child. I saw Richard Nixon make is last public speaking appearance before he resigned standing in the rubble of my old kindergarten school. He swore that the town would be rebuilt. He lied. My marriage collapsed, my work went on strike and I re-assessed my life. I drifted. I looked for meaning. I was in Atlanta the night Jimmy Carter was elected President and I was inspired. I moved to Oregon and began working for the new Department of Environmental Quality and lived under the progressive government of Republican Governor Tom McCall. I am pleased to say that I have never been disappointed about the enlightened politics of the Great State of Oregon in all these years.

I digress. This missive was not intended to be a biography. I want only to point out that, generally as a society, we have made great strides in social awareness, equality among gender preference and races, science and medicine. I am married to an asian - unthinkable in the first part of my life, with 3 wonderful mixed blood children who are treated without discrimination. Our educational standards, while threatened, are still strong. It has not been and easy road for Americans over the last 60 years and progress has been slow and at great cost but with great results.

Stepping off my soapbox I ask only that, when we vote in this important election, we think it through clearly and refuse to return to a time when the merits of man were defined in black and white terms.


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