Thursday, November 03, 2005

"I Can't Do Anything About It": Will This Be Our Legacy?
November 4- November 17, 2005

copyright 2005 DB Levy
"I Can't Do Anything About It": Will This Be Our Legacy?

Jewish Journal North of Boston

Following my column about Shirley Avenue and Revere last month, a friend wrote from California: "Good piece. Nothing to be done railing about the pimps in D.C. so may as well write pleasant stories about Shirley Avenue…. Your readers will appreciate it."

I am hoping this is my friend's temporary sadness of heart. He was always the greatest political warrior, neither forgetting, nor forgiving, nor failing to fight political transgressions, public vanities and outrages.

But there are millions of others in America who have quietly dropped out of the political fray. Many were once engaged citizens who advocated, marched, worked for and financially supported political candidates.

What pushes people to give up is the enormous disconnect between the deadly seriousness of the issues and the duplicitous sleaze of many politicians in both Congress and the White House — as well as the incredible incompetence of many executive appointees.

What issues?

The possible (many think probable) avian flu pandemic that without an effective vaccine will kill millions here and around the world. The Bush appointee heading the government's effort has been called another Michael Brown.

The continuing and expensive (lives and money) war in Iraq begun with errors or lies or both and now seemingly impossible to end satisfactorily.

Global warming and other environmental degradation resulting in horrific weather today and continuing rapid melting of the polar ice caps. Think of Worcester in 50 or 100 years being our new Revere Beach.

Nuclear war and nuclear terrorism. Will Britain, France, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea — and even Israel and the United States — forever hold back from using their nuclear weapons?

More immediately threatening are terrorists like the present crop of radical Muslims who are determined to get their hands on nuclear material. They — who behead other human beings, face to face, one on one, and kill scores or hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians without remorse in a single attack — will not think twice about using nuclear bombs.

The issues are horrendous?

But the situation is made even worse when you layer it with the criminality, incompetence and hollow pomposity in Washington. The White House implodes with scandal, lies, and bungling unqualified appointees. I mean the politicians, lobbyists and corporate leeches feeding on the budget pie, not the civil servants.

The House of Representatives is an almost unchangeable oligarchy. Unless a member of the House actually kills somebody, is convicted of racketeering, or just plain dies, he or she is unlikely to lose a congressional seat.

There's more: if you can't raise millions, or don't have millions of your own to invest, or if your family name is not Kennedy, Rockefeller, Bush, Clinton, and now Carter, your chance of winning a congressional seat is about as good as my becoming the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.

We ordinary citizens feel impotent when we come up against all this. Yes, we can build a Habitat for Humanity house, but battling avian flu or nuclear terrorism?

It leads to the heart-hardening mantra, "Don't bother me, I can't do anything about it."

Or as my daughter puts it, "Abba, you talk of global warming; I'm just trying to find a parking space in downtown Jerusalem."

I understand and I admit my own guilt, my own dropping out from time to time. Many times I stopped all delivered newspapers because I just couldn't stand the repetitive bad news.

I'm back now and saying, If we drop out, we leave it all to our children and grandchildren to work out, if there is something left to sort out. That shouldn't be our legacy.

I write this a day after the death of Rosa Parks, who in 1955, a then-unknown seamstress riding a bus in Birmingham, forever changed America for the better.

Is there really more to say about giving up?


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