“How do you spell relief?” Clue: It’s not Alka Seltzer. It’s the elections. They’re over! Even the losers are breathing easier.
Nevertheless, all is not well. Win or lose, what remains is a badly divided populous. Those on the right are so very sure they are right. The left is equally sure of its moral superiority. Political campaigns are not about electing leaders; they’re about the voter’s self-perception.
War is sold to the public by demonizing an enemy. So are elections. They’re sold to the highest bidder, who then tries to convince the public the opposition is not only wrong, it’s evil.
The candidate who spends the most money wins more than 90 percent of the time, and he or she does it by blaming the nation’s problems on the other party, by demonizing the enemy. When the election is over, the winners are so beholden to their wealthy sponsors, they’re forced to serve them, not the public.
Friends, nothing is going to change by changing a few people at the top. Change comes from below. The earth itself is changing. Its people must change to meet the new environment, and that environment includes the prevailing economy as well as changes in the climate.
How many politicians have promised to “grow the economy?” Growth gone wrong is spelled C-A-N-C-E-R. Look at what has grown in the past two decades: wealth and power at the very top of the economic ladder.
The world is made up of relationships. This includes more than just the basic laws of physics and more than the basic laws of social intercourse. Relationships are the key to everything, from one’s interaction with family, with community, and with government, to one’s relationship with the ineffable. (Substitute the word “God” if you like.)
A politician’s job should be to keep these relationships healthy. In a time of great change, the task becomes almost insurmountable. It’s up to all of us, our leaders, our churches, our communities — and the media — to remember that we as human beings are one people, that all of us born in the same way and driven by the same basic needs.
On Nov. 8, the Times carried an op-ed piece by Ann McFeatters, a columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. In it, she listed all the many things Americans say they want but failed to support in the recent election. The Times’ editors titled it, “Voters clueless how to fix nation’s problems.”
Whether or not you agree with that somewhat pejorative heading probably depends on your politics, but McFeatters comments are worth noting. She points out that Americans support raising the minimum wage. They want better background checks on gun registration. They’re worried about climate change and believe that much of it is caused by human activity. They want immigration reform and better health coverage.
But they’ve elected men and women to office who did not run on any of these issues. Something is seriously wrong here. We seem to have forgotten that we are all linked together: one planet, one creator, one people. What hurts one of us hurts all of us.
According to the polls, voters put the economy ahead of all other issues. That is understandable but shortsighted. A healthy economy depends on the health of its workers.
Healthy workers depend on safe food, clean water, secure streets and housing, all those things that are threatened by flood, drought, crime and pollution.
This poor old earth is in for hard times in the coming years no matter who is in power. Like it or not, Barack Obama is still president. The public wants less dysfunction in Washington but they won’t get it unless they make it very clear to Congress that its members have to work together.
Top priority — the environment. We can deal with almost anything else, but if the earth becomes sick, none of us will escape the physical and economic consequences.
Joan King lives in Sautee.