Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Honesty check: what came first, the tears or the spin?

Perhaps the hardest part of everything in New Orleans, for all Americans but most certainly for those directly affected, is explaining to our children what they witnessed.

Built without a spin cycle, born without cynicism or even the most rudimentary of political moorings, children simply see and instinctively comprehend (and share) pain.

They're luckier for it, in many ways - but pain takes a greater toll on those who cannot fabricate, rationalize and willfully ignore what doesn't "sit well" with their political views.

It's patentedly absurd to equate legitimate horror and criticism with partisanship.

Before all of us knew what the words Republican or Democrat meant, we knew the meaning of "human suffering."

From early childhood, humans recognize pain and suffering in themselves and others.

Since they were small, without prompting or expectation, my kids have always offered a hug and wiped away my tears when needed. Just as I have and will always do for them.

They did not say, "Mommy, are you really hurt, or are you just using partisan posturing?"

So, what came first - genuine pain and anger borne of horror, or political sniping? If you really need to ask, we're in far worse shape than even I realized.

For years, many so-called liberals have been sneered at as "bleeding hearts." Perhaps that's apt, to some degree. In my case it certainly applies. The name's worn proudly, for that matter. So why should it shock anyone to see how sad and angry this has made many of us, regardless of political bent?

It's precisely because people care that many, including me, are angry and horrified.

The right-wing spin machine counts on translating pain and horror into partisanship. Don't let them. This goes way deeper than R or D, left or right. It's our collective humanity at stake. Are we really willing to even consider spinmeisters trying to tell us that the federal government is "not responsible" for protecting the general welfare of its people? That "beaurocracy" is more responsible than human beings? That somehow it's okay for our fellow citizens to die because they "foolishly" stayed behind? Or worse, that you're a traitor for being upset and angry over needless death?

To even have to ask these questions is staggering.

Children don't need to consider such things; watching my own kids as events unfolded in New Orleans, I heard them say, "Why are there people dying, mom?" Where is the government?" Hell, even Shepard Smith of Fox News asked the very same question, rightly so, and he's an adult.

It's instinctual to want to help when witnessing others' suffering, and thank God for that. Even dogs try to comfort their owners.

What's being asked of us now is to be less than a child, less than a dog.

To rationalize away the unneccessary pain of our fellow citizens, to apportion accountability not to federal government officials that swore to protect us, but to victims themselves. As if they brought on our collective shame and misery by being miserable. As if they are inconvenient, or somehow lesser than we.

My kids don't buy it. They're neither Democrats nor Republicans and they simply don't buy it. Neither should anyone else who considers his or herself a human being.

For now, a few words worthy of consideration:

They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!' ~Ruby in Cold Mountain

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. ~Mother Theresa

With the nation's debt at an all-time high, do you think tax cuts for the rich are still a good idea? Will you give yours back so hundreds of thousands of homeless in New Orleans can have a home?

Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake. ~Michael Moore

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