Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Help Us Out Here, 2014





Ah, 2014 - welcome! 2013 was not an especially good year and I'm hoping for better things from you. I never make predictions but here are some of my wishes for 2014:

1) I'm hopeful that some of the Obamacare obsession will die down. The ACA is a done deal. It is rolling down the track and picking up steam. It may experience some bumps and it may need some tweaks but the law itself has gone too far to be repealed. After a couple of years of "all Obamacare, all the time", the Republicans to need to jump on board and cooperate in fixing what they think are the ACA's problems....with sincerity, not in the hope of sabotaging it.

I see healthcare as similar to public education. My son is in his 40's; I have no grandchildren - and yet I've paid taxes for decades to support the public school system although there is no benefit to me except my belief that a society is better if all its citizens are educated. In the same way, the entire country is a more prosperous and happy place if all its citizens have access to healthcare. And I don't mean finally going to the emergency room when your condition deteriorates to the point you can't bear it. I mean having the ability to be treated before you get to that place.

2) In fact, I hope Obama Derangement Syndrome will begin to subside and the Republicans will once again see themselves as partners in government, (the loyal opposition, if you will) rather than simply spoilers. Obama has been president for five years now. He has not come for your guns. He has not had the NSA spies track you down based on your Facebook screeds against him and the government and hauled you off to a detention camp. He has not sent Death Squads to kill you. And believe it or not, he (and his family) have not spent anymore on vacations than any other president, he has not used executive orders anymore than any other president, he has not "shredded" the Constitution and he has not sold America out to the Muslims.

3) This is probably impossible in the era of Facebook, but I hope the extreme reactions to disagreement will dissipate. If you hate Phil Robertson or Paula Deen or Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow or whoever, don't watch or listen to their shows or buy their products. If enough people agree with you, they will fall of their own weight. If not, well, that's the way it is in America. It's fine to post your opinion, even argue with your opponents, but that can be done somewhat respectfully. Contempt feeds on itself and grows.

4) I hope people begin to turn their attention to real problems, not stupid ones, such as - "I am outraged to have to press one to hear this message in English!"  Oh, for Pete's sake, get a grip. If pressing one is the hardest thing you have to do, you're in pretty good shape. "I'm outraged that poor people have cell phones...or that I have to help pay for food stamps!"  Really, would you want the rest of us to help if it was your family? And it could be, you know? Unless you're Mitt Romney, you're not immune from the possibility of bad luck and hard times. "I'm outraged that hunters post triumphant pictures of their kills on Facebook!". I try to scroll quickly past the pictures of bloody dead corpses too but hunters have as much right to post their hunting pictures as you do to post your videos of precious puppies.

5) I hope Pope Francis' new focus on the poor and vulnerable, as opposed to divisive social issues, takes hold throughout the Catholic Church and beyond to all churches. I hope some of the conservative Christian churches decide to focus more on love than disapproving judgement. I hope good and faithful Muslims begin to speak out and oppose the way their radicals have perverted their religion into a thing of hate and vengeance.

6) Most of all, I hope we decide to pay more attention to our poor treatment of this earth, which is the one thing we all have in common and we all need to survive - blacks and white and reds and yellows, Christian and Muslim and Jew and Buddhist, males and females, gays and straights. The ground and air and water are far, far more important than gas and coal and copper and gold. Bees are more valuable than seeds genetically perverted to produce mega-crops. Birds are more important than weed-less fields. Fish are more important than oil pipelines. For those who truly believe in God, it seems to me that protecting this planet he gave us, and all that is upon it, should be the highest priority of all. It is the only thing that we can't go back and fix if we brutalize it to the point of no return.