Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Moral Test

Nicholas Kristoff a the the New York Times spends most of his time looking at events in foreign countries and finding ways to make them resonate at home: Genocide in Darfur, political change in China, or the Sex Trade in Cambodia. Today's column switched the perspective. He took years of travelling the globe and writing about things happening in the rest of the world to give us some sense of where the U.S.--this greatest country on earth--really sits compared to our "less fortunate" brethren. It's not a pretty picture.

He uses inflamatory language: wealth redistribution. Infant mortality. Social fabric. But then he pushes it even further.

It's not just that funds may have gone to Iraq rather than to the levees in New Orleans; it's also that money went to tax cuts for the wealthiest rather than vaccinations for children.
Which is a nice way to bring something I've been thinking about for a while now--unemployed people have plenty of free time for silly things like "thinking".

What are our priorities as a country? Is there anyone who is articulating them? Honest to God, the things "talked" about in our political discourse are nothings. Useless. Perhaps not in their totality, but in their own right.
Defense of Marriage?
Same sex survivor benefits?
Nuclear (NOT nukeyoular) missile defense shield?
Violence in video games?
Prayer in School?

These are icing issues. The frills. These are hanging pictures on the wall after your house is put back together. They are not, ever, fundamental issues for creating a world for our children that is better than it is today.

Call me niave, or even worse, liberal, but I'm going to reach back into antiquity for the following assesment of a government:
"The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped."
Hubert H. Humphrey, 1978 (1911-1978)
Just in case you happen to not identify yourself as liberal, try out this page and see how it fits.

We need to get over our definitions of ourselves as Republicans or Democrats. Born-again, Evangelical, or Secular. We are so comfortable, so removed from living life, that we have forgotten what we share.

Let me throw out on an issue I think we are very close on regardless of political, religious, or ideological bent.
Our children deserve every opportunity we--as the world's richest, most well-educated society--can give them.
This means:
  • All Children have the right (yes, right) to grow up free from disease to the extent that our considerable national resources can do it.
  • All Children have the right to the best education, in school and out of it, that the richest country on earth can give them.
  • Each Child has the right to grow up without fear of being shot, abused, trampled, or drowned simply because his or her parents aren't rich.
  • Each Child has the right to grow up in an area where there is economic opportunity, where hard-work and playing by the rules is rewarded by a functioning market-system.
There are ways to do each of these. They aren't secrets. They work throughout the world, from Iceland to India, to improve the quality of life for children. And then an amazing thing happens: when life improves for children, it improves for everyone.

THAT is really a rising tide that raises all boats. Why haven't we done this yet?

1 comment:

Empowerqueen said...

Why we haven't done this, political will!
Grace be with you.............