Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Happened to Us?

Melissa Etheridge asked this question, singing at the Al Gore Earth concert, and this poignant question has remained with me, echoing in my mind as I go about the daily chores, as I drive my car, as I prepare for bed at night. "What Happened to Us?"

Yesterday, I had a conversation that I never thought I would have. Is Waterboarding torture? I believe the answer to that depends upon whether or not you are one being waterboarded, or whether you are one wielding the bucket of water. It would be easy and seemingly harmless to pour water on the face of a tethered human, but not so easy to strangle, struggling for breath as your chest tightens and your oxygen is cut off, as your body strains with the pain of deprivation as that water slides down the throat.

What Happened to Us? There was a time when two portly gentlemen, both leaders of the Free World, led us all on a dignified path to victory in the Second World War. They were friends, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and both were exemplary humans, able to thrill us all with their oratory, and capable warriors leading their minions through a dreadful, deadly war. Both of these men signed the Geneva Accords, which ascertained that civilized countries would agree not to inflict torture on prisoners of war, treat them with a certain amount of civility and respect their status as human beings.

Yet now, we have flung away the restrictions of this treaty and lawyers have figured out a way to be able to excuse the whole affair. Prisoners of War who are not in uniform, they said, are not prisoners of war at all. They are Enemy Combatants, a whole other ball of wax, and we can treat them differently without breaking any laws. We can then say that we do follow the terms of the Geneva Convention.

Some people say, "Well, look at them! They behead people! If they behead people, it is only just and right that we torture them, too! It saves lives!"

Yes, but does it save souls? We face a pack of murderous thugs who torture and kill, so this makes it okay to act just like them? I suppose, if we fought a group of rapists, we would decide it was excusable to rape!

What happened to us?

In this country, we have many people who are homosexual. They do not bother me in my life, and they probably don't bother you in yours. If you have a homosexual child, there is not much to do besides accept him and love him, and few people would tell you to do otherwise.

Yet there are those who spend their time worrying about the sex life of homosexuals, and the barest whiff of it in some circles brings disaster and despair. In Congress, elected individuals lose their posts. In the Army, it is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell!," which is about as silly as it gets. We are desperate for soldiers to relieve our weary troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet about 10,000 or more Gays have been discharged, simply because they told....or someone else did! It is presumed that they are so tainted that they cannot pull a trigger or drive a tank. Some people feel that these professional men and women would immediately start making passes at their fellow soldiers, just as though male and female soldiers don't have sex. Others believe all homosexuals live in sin and are going to Hell, as though they are the judges and juries of the human race.

What Happened To Us?

The Republican Candidates speak very vaguely on the issues facing us today, but they constantly bleat of their religious faith. They all proclaim that the Iraq War will proceed to "victory," but none of them describe just what that victory entails. Mitt Romney is the most handsome and Presidential looking, as well as having the most money for Ads...but even Mitt Romney had to schedule a Speech about his Religion, despite the fact that our Constitution forbids such a "test."

We don't know if these fellows will straighten up this government, force the departments like Immigration and the FDA to do their jobs. We don't know what they would do about the 50 million Americans with no Health Care. There's not a word about the millions that are losing their homes. There's not a word about the huge National Debt. There's not a word about the problems of chemically-tainted Chinese products.

But they're all religious. They all believe in God, don't believe in abortion, pray daily, attend Church, hate big government, love lowered taxes, will extend the war, love the Almighty, ask for forgiveness for their sins, love God, love Jesus, love the thought of being President.

This religious pandering to the Bush Base is nauseous, to say the least. Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, leads over Romney in Iowa. A nice enough fellow, even witty at times, he has brought up the Devil in the Mormon religion, says he thinks women should "graciously submit" to their husbands, and at one point, favored gathering up Homosexuals with AIDS and putting them in camps. He evidently forgets that Jesus wandered courageously among lepers, giving them help and succor. Huckabee says that, if he had known what he knows about AIDS today, he probably would have made a different decision, but the information concerning AIDS was available to him at that time...and should not a Governor make it his business to know?

What happened to us that men too ignorant to find out about a disease would place human beings in limbo? What happened to us that none of them speak of the sorry state of affairs George Bush is leaving them to figure out? What happened to us that we worry more about a Candidate's religion than the ability to run the country well? What happened to us?

What a sorry lot. The Democratic Candidates? Just as sorry, but a little more helpful on the issues. They dive into Health Care, the Debt, the War, and have given us some idea of what they would do. While they still favor "Don't Ask, Don't Tell!," at least they are not condemning Homosexuals to Hell. They don't bring up religion every time they reach a comma in a sentence.

Wars! Torture! Bigotry! Greed! Name-calling! Hatred! Rush Limbaugh! Ann Coulter! Guns! A Snorting Dragon of a God! Corporate manipulation! Avarice! A Christian Nation with a Warped Soul! Spite! Retaliation! "I am the Decider!" "The Surge is Working!" Marriage is for a Man and a Woman....and so is Divorce! Hungry Children! Homeless! Mortgage Foreclosures! Job Losses! Outsourcing! Insourcing! Illegal Aliens! Lies! Distortions! Praise God and Pass the Nukes!

What Happened to Us, indeed!!!