Saturday, April 19, 2008

“I’ll take Public Education for $500, Alex”

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary - although he likes to tell everyone he’s been happily married for 10 years…and not in a row. Some wives might have trouble with that assessment. But I think it is fair – especially considering the fact that when we married - only one of us had chin hair.

What caught me by surprise was that after the wedding, I was immediately deployed to my father-in-law’s political boot camp, a rugged, in-your-face training facility - from which there was no escape - and where inductees were educated on the depth and gravity of society’s issues and resultant impact on the welfare of mankind.
Oh boy.

It is one thing to plan a wedding, a life together as husband and wife, but quite another to be held captive in a never-ending forum of systemically-examined social, political, and economic education.

What the hell had I gotten myself into? The marriage I could handle….but this?

Step aside Bob Eubanks. This was not going to be The Newlywed Game.

Over the next two and a half decades there was never an occasion - a holiday, celebration, or meal - at my in-law’s where macro-socio-economic conversation wasn’t front and center and thoroughly analyzed. Time and again - in between bites of food, choruses of Happy Birthday, and spontaneously shouted responses to Wheel of Fortune - we were relegated to consider contemplative answers to political decisions made by our (elected?) officials – and more importantly - how they impacted the masses, commonly known as We The People.

For most of those exchanges, I would sit politely and nod my head (as if) in agreement. In general, I felt that I had little standing on which to disagree, let alone voice an opinion. This stuff (so I thought) was way over my head, not merely because I often have trouble working the toaster, but also because my only previous political education was in November of 1963 when, at the tender age of seven, I overheard a paternal relative discussing President Kennedy’s assassination by commenting: “I’ll bet the media will flog this for days.“
(Note: That observation proved wrong. The media has been flogging it for decades).

My father-in-law’s discussions were nothing if not passionate, and were primarily focused on social ills that revolved around the relationship of labor, worker’s rights, class struggles and economic conflicts. In order to make his point, he would examine the words of Abraham Lincoln:

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Labor can exist without capital, but capital cannot exist with out labor.


Benjamin Franklin:
All social values are produced by human labor

Or any number of individuals whose progressive thought, intellect, history, and tenacity helped turn America into the Republic for which we stand.

Over the years he’s filled my (politically) empty head with interesting terms, ideologies, and philosophical considerations. What started as a struggle for me to understand grew into a natural comprehension of society. I thank my father-in-law for his dedication to educating everyone (and I mean every one!).

To widen his listening audience - and key our citizens in on areas that beg for necessary discussion - he might consider writing questions for Jeopardy.
If he does, I imagine they might look something like this:

What egalitarian society – whose foundation stands on the words ‘liberty’ and ‘justice for all’ - would tolerate:
Poverty among the riches, endless wars, fear mongering, torture, corruption, cronyism, expanding inequity among the classes, consumer protection agencies headed by former employees of the industries they are supposed to be regulating, decreased funding of education (the cornerstone of any informed citizenry), slashed budgets for vital social services, wholesale auctioning of public lands and national treasures, decreased transparency of government actions, an economic system dependent upon an insatiable appetite to consume, the consolidation of power into two parties with a single agenda, and a suffocating national debt that is (only to be) passed on to future generations?

Or this:

A deaf ear to overwhelming public opinion?

And of course the obvious:

Actors for President and uneducated weight lifters as governors?

Oh boy.

I began this column by discussing a union between people that has endured – not because of inequality, deceit, injustice or covert operations – but because of inclusion, continual education, transparency, communication – and peaceful resolutions to problems.

The literal meaning of democracy is People (demos) having Power (cracy).

While completing this article, I notice that our major media outlets are discussing the current administration’s desire to take us into what they term “World War III”.

Is that what the majority of the citizens of this nation want?
Do you feel empowered by that decision?

If not, then you’ve got to speak up.

Start by saying: Can you hear me now?

Lynn - NOTTV
Copyright 10/07

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