Charter for Compassion

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Hole in Democracy

Recently on facebook, I posted a series of comments to which a friend commented, "You are such a radical." I don't agree. I have included the recent relevant posts and my response.

A lesson in values: Governor Schwartznegger's budget for bodyguards has tripled from 14 million to 43 million while he has been in office, meanwhile school budgets have suffered from successive budget cuts. Lets study this in school. (source NPR)

More than $17 billion has been cut from California public schools and colleges in last two years.

The Detroit News reports, "48.5% of male Detroiters age 20 - 64 did not have a job in 2008"!!! This is what capitalism and political corruption can do. For those of you who don't know, this is where I grew up. It is a terror to know that half of the men you knew in a once vibrant community didn't/don't have a job. This is a major city in America. It is the Katrina of our time, and yet, it has been shuffled off and hidden. It is a crime/a sin/a scandal.

Who is the real enemy of democracy? Who are the banks, let alone those laughing all the way to the bank? Who creates the wealth? Why are we who are left with a job working so hard and getting so little?

Who is experiencing record profits while education goes wanting, people go unemployed, and communities are destroyed? Who resists the utilization of our country's wealth for medical care for all? Who causes these prices to rise? Wall Street, Big Pharma.

Doesn't asking these questions just seem like the honest truth right now? I mean, I'm not so radical. I'm not a communist, I don't think revolution will bring an answer. Revolution sinks toward violence, and Martin Luther King Jr. among others long ago pointed out its destructive consequences. I studied the course of the revolution in China... it turned me into a live and let live, freedom, justice, and human rights kind of a guy. I believe democracy is our greatest hope. But democracy is not working right right now. The twenty first century finds us polarized and confused. If democracy is to work, we need to find an answer to the interference of money. Money has ripped a hole in all of our checks and balances. To resist the destructive tides of the market forces is a matter of survival now. The arrogance of all those bonuses is just astounding to me. We've seen it before with oil companies, and the shame just doesn't seem to occur.

Is it working for us? I don't think so. I don't have the answers. Building a moral force strong enough to overcome the power of forces so flush with money takes time. I also believe we don't have a lot of time; China is waiting in the wings, with answers of its own that will not be satisfying. You have seen my posts about China. Then there's Mother Earth. How long can we go on doing not quite enough by her? Please think about these questions. Let's work together and build that which values people, education, employment, fairness, real democracy and a real future.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I Write about China or a Series of Unfortunate Events

First they raped the woman who washes feet, but I am not a woman, so I did not say anything; they fished for more registration fees, but I have no car, so I did not say anything; they killed the prisoners Hurry & Scurry, I am not a prisoner, so I did not say anything; they beat the journalists who expose the truth, but I am not a journalist, so I did not say anything; they arrested the people who petition the government, but I did not petition, so I did not say anything; they demolished houses to make way for the Olympics, but I do not own a house, so I did not say anything; They arrested human rights activists, but I’m not willing to sacrifice myself to help someone else, so I did not say anything; they arrested scholars who criticize the government, but I am not a scholar, so I did not say anything; they gang raped a female high school student, and then let her transfer, but I have no daughters, so I did not say anything; they took away the cooking utensils of the man who sells baked potatoes, and beat this poor lame old man, but I do not sell potatoes, so I did not say anything; they caused housing prices to skyrocket, I do not buy houses, so I did not say anything; they suppressed the Uighurs and the Tibetans, I am neither Uighur, not Tibetan, so I said nothing; they arrested those young people who dared go to Tiananmen to bring flowers, I didn’t think of going, nor would I dare go, so I said nothing; they arrested Zhao Lianhai who had the baby who drank contaminated milk and got kidney stones, but my family didn’t have a baby with kidney stones, so I said nothing; they arrested the house church members, but I don’t believe in religion, so I said nothing; they arrested those political folk who talk online, but I’m not interested in politics, so I said nothing; they arrested Huang Qi and Tan Zuoren who spoke out for the victims of the earthquake, but there wasn’t any earthquake here, so I said nothing; They arrested the eldest son of the Liu family, the stutterer, who was just playing around, but I neither play those games, nor am I a stutterer, so I said nothing.
Then for no reason that I can explain they arrested me, and I discovered that there was no one left beside me who would say anything. (Credit for this post goes to the German Pastor Martin Niemoller, who first wrote, "First they came for ..." and to one of my friends in China who posted this series of events, but shall remain anonymous. The translation is my own.)