By Ruth Gadebusch
The air seems filled with signs of the season. In our part of the world, the fall colors are beautiful. Our thoughts are filled with visions of bountiful tables and beyond to exciting gifts in shiny bright paper. Sometimes symbols of holiness manage to break through the hoopla, but a peep behind the scene of Thanksgiving and the so-called season of peace and joy gives quite a different scenario.
One overwhelming view is that of commercialism. Others attempt to overcome the deprivation suffered by many. Some celebrate the true meaning of the holidays. Alas in so much of the world, including our fair nation, many carry on with joy and revelry unaware of the pain of others, much less any nod toward the holiness of the season.
Of course, there are parts of the planet where our kind of holiday is totally meaningless but they share the dark part with us. Nowhere seems to escape humankind’s penchant for settling its differences, or if you prefer human greed, with war. Almost eight decades after that inglorious attack on Pearl Harbor, we have made peace with that attacker.
As an aside, let us not forget our handling of those in our nation carrying that nation’s blood was not exactly glorious and honorable. Still, we are at war in many other places in the world. Just because we do not call it war does not put us at peace.
Albeit not at war with all the nations where we have troops stationed but nevertheless having a military presence. We might pretend that it really isn’t war except in Afghanistan, but we threaten many nations as well as furnishing the weapons for others to use in the dirty business of killing and destroying. Just how one designates our on-again/off-again presence in Syria is anybody’s guess.
It is no guess as to how we have treated our longtime allies, the Kurds, there. We “play footsie” with Turkey attacking them so we can keep our Turkish airbases. With friends like that, the United States or Turkey, the Kurds don’t need any enemies. In that line, the President of this nation suddenly has decided that our longtime Filipino friends who loyally stuck with us in that conflagration known as World War II will no longer get veteran benefits.
Not to forget that it is our corporations that get rich off of manufacturing and selling the weapons of war to large portions of the world, just as we provide the market for the drugs that enrich the criminal element for whom our President likes to scold Mexico as being the problem.
As many of us celebrate our good fortune of plenty, our government is proposing denying hot lunches for schoolchildren. At the same time, it threatens SNAP, another program to help those suffering from insufficient food. Food insecurity, we call it.
Medical care is another luxury in the eyes of this government. The ACLU counts 60,000 refugees on our southern border while the current administration seeks to build an ever-greater physical barrier. Even if all the separated children and parents seeking refuge have been reunited—which many of us doubt—it will forever be a blot on our humanity. And we brag we are a Christian nation.
The French might want to take back that statue in New York Harbor. After all, we have our own citizens, often calling themselves Christian, shooting up other religious groups in their houses of worship.
Under the direction of the President, we deny the passage of Muslims into our country. Tolerance does not seem to be in his being or that of many of his followers. Still, we think of ourselves as the worthy ones of the planet.
Just as we judge our ancestors for slavery and other deeds we now consider unacceptable—sins, worse than just unacceptable—doesn’t it ever occur to us that some of those above-listed deeds will be considered just as sinful by another generation?
Then there is that matter of just plain ethics. As we go through a Constitutionally applied impeachment procedure of a President, emphasizing that no one is above the law, many who have testified in closed sessions are having sudden memory regeneration when they testify in public where others know the truth.
We have the members of one political party seemingly putting protection for their lofty position ahead of the welfare of the nation. We have a president—oh heck, let’s not try to describe him. Suffice to say he is unlike any other ever in this nation.
We could go on and on—our gun culture, Guantanamo Bay, blockade of little Cuba, gerrymandering of our voting areas, climate devastation and more—but there is already enough to contrast the reality of so much of our day-to-day existence with what we like to think this holiday season symbolizes.
It is surely a time for us to take a long hard look at our responsibility to exist peacefully with our fellow/sister humans. A big improvement is called for, but the least step is better than nothing. Are we willing to sacrifice even a little of our own comfort to do the job?
Ruth Gadebusch, a former Naval officer, has served the community as a volunteer, an elected trustee of the Fresno Unified School District and a Governor’s appointee to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Her activities include the American Association of University Women, the PTA, the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Center for Civic Education.