07 September 2005

Magic

So lately there's been a lot of press about the evils of the President and his minions. About how lazy they were in the face of Katrina. How they let people die while Condi shopped for shoes (what is it with women and shoes ... remember Imelda and her shoes? It's a mortal sin for a woman to have shoes). I've been pretty angry myself. There was a huge breakdown at many levels of our government that led to the devastation we saw down south. The stuff that nature brought we had no control over ... but how we responded to it, we had all kinds of control over, and we all failed. Every single one of us. On the right. And on the left.

You see, here's the thing we have to remember in our kind of government. When there is a failure of this magnitude, we do not have the luxury of sitting back and pointing fingers. Because we are a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." Therefore, a failure of government, is a failure of ...

me.

And.

You.

But ... here are some things I've been thinking about. Some places we've all been led astray in the last several years by our leaders. Actually one thing that I've done a lot of thinking about. It's magic. Specifically, magical thinking. There's a real temptation amongst our leaders and especially conservative leaders to engage in what I call, "magical thinking." You hear it all the time when people say things like, "Well, those people chose to live there." "Poor people choose to be poor." Or they'll say things like "Giving tax cuts to the wealthy will trickle down to the lower levels of society." Fantastic! Prove it, please.

Then I read this quote in a book I'm currently reading: "Reality is a like a fine wine, it will not appeal to young children." Ouch. It stings. It stings personally and it stings culturally. It means that we all have to grow up and learn to like fine wine (and good chocolate and good cheese and all of those other things that do not appeal to children). We have to grow up and take on the hard tasks of adulthood in addition to the "fun" that we have become addicted to.

Whether the conservative right likes it or not, a government does have a responsibility to care for the "least of these" amongst us. At least, here in this country we have decided that is so. We have decided that amongst civil society we will care for our old, and infirm, and unable, our widows, our orphans, those who need health insurance. It's not fun. And yes, there will be those who try to take advantage of this system. There are always those who will be wolves in sheep's clothing, but should we punish all of those with real needs because of a few wolves? I don't think so. It takes the hard work of adults, who enjoy fine wine at the end of a day, who are willing to give up a bit of their work, so that others might eat and sleep well. It takes all of us adults working together to make our country work. It does not take magic.

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