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Friday, December 24, 2010

Tis the Season...

Tis the season to be jolly...oh really. Well, let's see. We are in six wars. Yes - six. Iraq (still), Afghanistan (still), Pakistan, Yemen, The Horn of Africa (which includes about a dozen African countries), and Colombia (yes we have military troops there too). The economy is still in the tank. The real unemployment rate is near 22%. 50 million people are still without health insurance. More people including 1 of every 5 kids is living in poverty. Foreclosures of homes are on the increase, the housing crisis is headed for a 'double-dip'. All but two states are reporting multi-billion dollar deficits that they must close due to balanced budget requirements - meaning they are put in the position of being forced to lay off workers and cut important safety net programs.

The Pope says that pedophilia is okay with Church teachings. O'Reilly and others of his ilk believe there is a war on Christmas between Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus. Bigotry in all its ugliness is on the rise against all marginalized groups. The Republican party in all its vaingloriousness has shown that the only American People it cares about are the really really wealthy among us. A letter-writer to Dear Abby reported that her niece's hand-made cards were thought of as "cheap and tacky" and one person sent her a check so she could buy "real" cards next year. We are told that even though there is only one job available for every six people looking for one, that the unemployed are lazy, drug-addicted spoiled bums who don't deserve to be 'paid for doing nothing'. Sick people are cut off from organ transplants because it is 'cadillac health care' and the money is used instead to put a new roof on a sports stadium. And for lack of a $75 fee, a family's home burns to the ground while the fire department stands there and watches.

The good news? Well, the banksters on Wall Street are making money hand over fist again. As are the automakers. As are the oil companies - including BP. And the politicians are feeling no pain - whining about having to work for a few more days before the holidays. DADT got passed, the new START Treaty, the Food Safety Bill, and some other pieces of legislation and a few appointments - all of which had been languishing for months if not years due to the obstructionist tactics of the Republicans mostly in the Senate. Oh, and the richest 1% of people in this country got a giant tax cut.

But there really is some better news. I talked to my daughter today. She has a young son, not quite three. When he is asked what he wants for Christmas he replies "a present". He doesn't have a wish list of must have gifts. His mother doesn't let him watch TV all the time. He is involved in activities with his parents and other children his age outdoors and in structured play groups. How refreshing. My daughter has been reading "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" to him. She reminded me that the real lesson of that book is not what a mean thing the Grinch was, but how the Whos in Whoville managed to get up on Christmas morning with no gifts and still celebrate and be happy and realize the true meaning of the season.

(Just in case you think my daughter is a rich soccer mom, no. Her husband is currently unemployed due to the recession. He is working odd jobs and trying to finish his education. She just recently finished an AA degree and is working as a web-designer. They are struggling to pay an underwater mortgage on a house they bought about six months before the housing crash - and as I said, they have a toddler to take care of.)

Maybe we all need to go back and re-read that precious story and celebrate with the denizens of Whoville. Skip all the presents and just be - be with family and friends. Go outside and appreciate the beauty of nature around you. Be thankful for all that you have - because even if all that you have is not very much, it still is way more than most people in the world. Think of ways in the coming year that you can be more thoughtful, more kind to your neighbors, your co-workers, your family members and your friends. Give a few hours to a local charity. Write a letter to the editor or to your congresscritter. Write a letter to a shut-in relative - better yet go visit. Turn off all your electronics and revel in the silence. Talk to someone - face to face. Hug them. Smile at a stranger.

And on earth, Peace...

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