Are we "At the Crossroads of America"
Manuel Valenzuelas has an impassioned article "At the Crossroads of America" at ICH
Some may find his writing a little "over the top". But what drew me to this piece was the passion and emotion I sensed in his words.
Just how important to America and its future is the 2004 election? Many of us feel that it is very important. I must admit to having trouble putting my thoughts down in a way that didn't end up in a rant. I think that Mr. Valenzuelas puts into words what I and maybe others are feeling. The election is important simply because the Bush administration represents a fundamental change in America's behavior and philosophy. To me there are two main issues with this administration: 1. the unprecedented melding of government and corporations at the policy level and 2. a foreign policy that amounts to American Exceptionalism on steroids.
Sometimes the most difficult task is to recognize when we are facing a crisis, particuarly a ideological crisis. It is in the end a battle of ideas. But ideas shape policy and actions. These in turn affect all of us. Thes ideas reflect a vision of who we are and who we want to be.
Here Mr. Valenzuelas asks some important questions
Our decision on election-day 2004 will say as much about who we are as what we want to become, in short time transforming our destiny to the society that will exist into the future. We are each others’ gate keepers, and through the monumental decision we must make the future course of humanity will take. The referendum of the next few days is as much one regarding us as a society as it is on the presidency of George W. Bush. Do we approve of what has transpired, of what has been committed and of what has and continues to be done in our name? Do we condone all that has been lost, our reputation, our humanity, our nation? Have the last four years been an anomaly, a freak period of time not accepted or sought by the American people? Do the policies of the corporate administration have resonance and complicity acquiescence among us, or are they to be discarded and erased from our collective conscious? In our answers to these questions America will thus come to be defined.
He argues that we have been given the opportunity and the burden to decide whether we have "of a return to past dark ages or a forward march towards renaissance and rebirth"
When I read the next paragraph I immediately thought of Bush'a enviromental policies. Some errors can be corrected albeit with pain. Other errors may be irreversible. For example, how do you take the greenhouses gases out of the atmosphere to prevent global warming? But I am also led to think of the proliferation of nuclear wepons.
Yet, as always seems to be the case, it is future generations to come that suffer most through the mistakes of their parents and grandparents. It is the sins of the fathers that condemn their children to hell. Sojourning through the wrong path in the face of crossroads ahead scars the future as well as the present. Born without choice, devoid of opportunity and confronted by the wrongs of ancestors past, those of the future must live with the detrimental consequences of wrongs, errors, indifference and inaction. Instead of granting a better world to our offspring, the legacy of what we have done, or what we failed to do, encages the many who are to come. Thus the burden of our failure to choose wisely will condemn millions of faceless entities whose destiny we are helping to seal even before they take their first breath of air. It is at the crossroads of humanity where man achieves its greatest victories or suffers its most monumental defeats.
As a country who are we? Is Bush really the embodiment of America in the 21th centrury?
To the globe, America has become a bully nation, an immature child born to privilege, silver spoon fed from birth, educated by the fictions of television and forgotten by parents consumed by selfishness. It throws temper tantrums when it does not get what it wants, it ignores international law and the collective wisdom of the world while basking in the false bubble of its abundance, wealth and exorbitant lifestyle. Insecure in its existence and unwise to history, ignorant to culture and devoid of the emotions of constant suffering its policies help foster, outgrowing itself too fast and afflicted with the growing pains of adolescence, full of hormonal changes, chemical imbalances, a depression-filled life and Ritalin-laden dependence, America is seen as a danger onto humanity, an evil empire whose people are sheep and leaders wolves. To hundreds of millions, we are a terrorist nation, the most dangerous country in the world, a rogue pariah using our wealth and power to decimate innocents, to humiliate thousands and to destroy entire cultures and societies.
We are now torturers, dehumanizers, sadists and criminals, degenerates espousing the principles of Christ yet unleashing human evil onto the world, apathetic to the AIDS pandemic in Africa, the endemic poverty in Latin America, genocide in Sudan, slaughters in Chechnya and Palestine, ethic cleansing in Tibet and the growing American gulags roaming the plains of Earth. We have become the hypocrites of our race, monsters with an insatiable thirst for blood and destruction, shameless creatures of crusading circumstance lacking morality or respect, colonizers, occupiers, rapists and invaders of resource-rich lands, needing the force of tanks and bombs in order to ‘pacify barbarians’, institute greed-infested globalization and corporate crony capitalism onto ‘primitive’ peoples.
But have we, as a people really become this? I want the answer to be a loud no. I want us to live up to those ideals that we have been taught but taken for granted. So who are we?
At the crossroads of America we find ourselves in, finally handed the option to exorcise from our midst what has been done to us and the world. The opportunity to right what has been made wrong is upon us, as is the chance to correct world opinion and our worsening reputation among the nations and peoples of the planet. For we are not monsters nor deviants, we are not warmongers and indifferent degenerates, living in a moral cavity and being bankrupt in humanity. We are not Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Rove, Rice and their yes-men and women minions, nothing but young vultures prospering from other peoples’ misfortunes. We are not neocons, empty of humanity and satiated with delusional debauchery. We are not corruption, nor war criminals nor murderers. We are not warmongers nor profiteers hypnotized by greed and controlled by the corporate world. We are not the American government, capsizing the world in order to save a sinking ship.
We are American, millions of good, decent, honorable, loving and peace-seeking humans, wanting nothing more than a life living in harmony with all others, content in daily existence, seeking happiness and meaning in our lives, preferring peace to violence, unity to division. We are not Bush, and the world needs to know this. At the crossroads of America are we presently standing on, ready to send a message worldwide, ready to declare independence from the last four years, ready to divorce ourselves from the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Bush administration. We are not Bush, we are not the last four years, nothing but a microcosm in the vast vortex of time, an anathema to the goodness of American citizens nationwide.
We are at the crossroads of America, looking directly at two distinct paths, forever turning our backs on one and slowly yet confidently walking in the direction of another. In the hope of a new tomorrow can a bright and warm daybreak be seen.
America, the right path awaits us.
I think this is the correct way to look at it. We have missed the point if we are quibbling over whether Kerry is progressive enough. For me, I wish he was more progressive. But electing Kerry will put us on the right path. The job will not be over, it will never be over. But we can start by stopping our headlong mad dash down the wrong path and eventually over the cliff. We can start by restoring integrity, thoughtfulness, and humanity to our government. But the work to make our country better, safer, stronger, and more compassionate will be a long-term struggle. Its one we have to commit to because the forces which have propeled us in the wrong direction will not go away and will not give up without a long hard fight.