Saturday, August 29, 2009

End of An Era

It's a rainy Saturday and I'm watching the funeral of Ted Kennedy, and, as with all funerals, I'm trying to figure out what it all means, in both the big and little sense. In the little sense, it means personal pain for a family that's had its share and more of personal pain. Grieving widows and children, lost promise, and a history of siblings gone too young. Yet, he was a Kennedy, so the meaning transcends the personal, family impact.

I'll pass over the big meanings of life: religion, the afterlife, etc. There are others far more equipped to talk about that. Like the phalanx of priests presiding over the event today.

I'm thinking about the big meanings of life on earth. How you spend your time. Where you choose to fight your battles. Yes, of course Teddy had his flaws and I'm sure Coulter and Limbaugh have been pointing that out lately. Now that he's gone, though, have you noticed how Teddy's flaws have been eclipsed by the history of his actions and leadership? It's impossible for newspapers to adequately summarize his accomplishments, and even those summaries are overwhelming. Almost universally, those accomplishments benefitted those at the bottom of our society. Kennedy used his time and powers in service of making life better for those who often cannot fight for themselves.

Constantly living in the public shadow of his martyred brothers, what has become clear in Teddy's passing is that, in the end, he probably had more influence that either of his siblings on the way Americans live their lives.

It's interesting that the Kennedys are often referred to as American "royalty" and easy to see why: the tightness of the clan, the money, the public scrutiny. The comparison is often meant as a denigration, because in America we don't have kings and queens. Yet it's important to remember what separates Teddy from all that: a lifetime of service. He could just as easily have walked away from Washington; after the death of his brothers, no one would have blamed the Kennedys if they walked away from public life altogether. Teddy and his family represents what can be best in America, that belief that there is a possibility to do good -- not just for those of your own social class but for all Americans -- and fighting to do good despite considerable obstacles. If kings behaved this way, we probably wouldn't have thrown off England's yoke to begin with.

The other big thing I'm contemplating is who will fill a considerable vacuum. Where are the new liberals who come with unlimited wealth and power who are engaging in service for the sake of service? Perhaps that era has passed, perhaps it's for the best that politics not be dominated by single families. Perhaps. Kennedy's life would suggest otherwise. Whatever you think about this, I hope you'll agree that the man's life was inspiring. Maybe you'll be inspired by it and choose a life of service.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doctor, Heal Thyself

Let's talk healthcare, shall we? And by talk, I don't mean hysterical shouting.

I know I blogged about this before, but it bears repeating for the halfwits out there - and there are so desperately many of you, aren't there? - being louder doesn't make you right or make your opinion more valid. All it really does is make you shrill and embarrassing, and lessens the weight of your own arguments, especially when you're shouting things like "socialism" and "death squads"! I saw some daft old fart standing in the blazing sunshine with a sandwich board bearing multi-colored lettering that said something to the effect of "euthanize the Obama health care plan, not our senior citizens."

Now, I'll push aside any wish-fulfillment jokes about golden-agers and euthanasia for the moment, and get to the real point: if you're so fucking stupid you believe this health plan calls for Sarah's Squads then you're dumber than the guy holding the sign. More than that, your fear-mongering screaming makes you un-American. That's right, all you right-wing fuck-nuts, you're anti-American. The country I live in shouldn't let people suffer for lack of access to some of the most advanced medical technology in the world. It's inhumane to allow a large swath of our populace go uninsured while you run around like hysterical weasels shouting things like "Nazi" and "Un-constitutional".

So, if you have a legitimate point of argument, come to the table and discuss it like an adult. If nothing else, the past few weeks have proven that your government is listening. But just because they listen doesn't mean you automatically get your way. Stop behaving like toddlers and help be part of the solution rather than just a wrench in the works. Believe me, they want to hear an alternative that is workable and makes sense. The current healthcare system does - not - work. You must acknowledge that. All the invective gums up the works, and nothing moves forward. That, too, makes you un-American. Bringing the country to a halt out of spite is petty and vindictive, and doesn't help anyone get the coverage they need.

Stop listening to the convenient, simplistic lies, and take on the responsibility of figuring out how you could possibly help your representatives fix the problems that face us. We're moving on, whether you like it or not. You can bury your head in the sand, but we might just cover the rest of you up as we pass you by.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rules of the Road

Writing about politics has been giving me fits, so I'm going back to the semi-humorous ranting that puts the twinkle in my eye.

Today's topic: courtesy on today's over-crowded streets. It's only by our general compliance that chaos doesn't rule our roads, but I've noticed a breakdown in our communal adherence to the letter of the law of late. Maybe it's the summer heat, maybe it's the economic malaise infusing our every waking hour, maybe it's just that as Americans we feel a level of entitlement that puts us above the vehicular law. Whatever the cause, I think a few easy-to follow rules could help us all out.

Rules For Drivers:

  1. Crawling up my ass will not get you to your destination faster. Back off.
  2. Your horn is not the "Easy Button."
  3. Your phone call is not more important than the 1200 lb projectile you're piloting.
  4. Driving a BMW doesn't exempt you from the law. Similarly...
  5. Homies in Escalades are still supposed to obey the traffic rules.
  6. Using your turn signal prevents me from using my easy button.
I recognize this isn't a one-way street however, and that drivers aren't the only ones with responsibilities where our roads are concerned. So here are some helpful...

Rules for Pedestrians:
  1. Texting while stepping out into traffic - against the light - will not stop a moving car.
  2. Crosswalks technically put you in the right, but also will not stop a moving vehicle.
  3. Putting your hand up does not stop a moving car.
  4. Jaywalking means you're too lazy to walk to the corner where there's a light to help you cross. We're fat enough already. Take the extra steps.
  5. The fastest way across the street is a straight line, not an ambling diagonal one.
  6. Just because you look away from a car doesn't mean it won't run you over.
Now, let's all use the road responsibly and have fun out there.