By Dr. T
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.
The Dalai Lama
Basic civility is often missing in our political discourse and the entire country, no matter their party or affiliation, seems to be fatigued with the ostensibly endless season of campaigning, rallies, speeches, debates and so on. The amount of time and treasure spent on the presidential campaigns in 2016 puts the tally over a billion dollars spent thus far. A billion with a “B”! What could we do with that money instead? We could feed 50 million people, build over 7,000 homes for families of 5-7 people, or send a quarter of the college-eligible population off to get a 4-year degree. With the National Debt in the trillions, why not knock a billion off of that bill? Even if you wanted to be frivolous or selfish, you could buy the entire Chicago Cubs baseball team, the Los Angeles Lakers or a Ferrari. The point being there’s a lot that could be accomplished with a billion dollars other than whipping up dissent and animas, dissatisfaction and ill will towards the country and the “other” people in it. This year’s politics have drawn a stark contrast between the candidates and what each side stands for and whom they appear to stand against. There’s a lot of discontent and division and even a pronouncement, from one of the candidates, of the intentional undermining of our political process by whipping up suspicion of institutional election “rigging”, voter fraud, and conspiracy aimed at the very heart of the democratic process itself. What has happened to civility, kindness and basic human decency? Even in disagreeing, why do we need to be so disagreeable?
The peaceful transition of power is the cornerstone of our democracy and the beacon of hope the United States of America offers to the world as the basic truth of our democratic process. The freedom and liberty we ALL have is to make our voices heard at the ballot box, to lay claim to our identity as a nation and not to allow the bitterness or devolution of civility to take us down a path of disillusionment or destruction. Our union is STRONG. It is not perfect nor is it without the need to continually interrogate and evaluate its institutional processes and policies in an effort to perfect them, and to correct any omissions, flaws or errors whether intentional or out of step with the changing times and demography of contemporary USA. The United States of America of 2016 looks very different than the country I was born into over 6 decades ago, or that many elder Americans were born into decades before me. We have grown and changed as a nation.
We have come a long way from Jim Crow and segregation. We have moved to include many who were previously excluded from full citizenship by amending our Constitution and changing our laws. We addressed inconsistencies and deficiencies in the things we espoused as fundamental to our democracy and we have moved forward with becoming the America we were destined to be. We have the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Marriage Equality Act, the Dream Act and many more that recognize and address shortcomings and omissions that were necessary for the United States to truly stand on the world’s stage as the leader of Democracy and Freedom for ALL. We will not go backwards because America today is better than it has ever been. We still have a long way to go. Our goal in all that we do moving forward should be to help…not to hurt. It is the higher calling of our human purpose.