Welcome to 20-20. We have a new year to mess up! We like new beginnings. We envision the opportunities that await us. We see a bright, shiny road ahead of us leading into the future. For now at least we can put aside the anxiety and insecurity that has crept into our lives in recent years. Technology has accelerated the uneasy feeling that everything that matters is slipping away. We feel we are losing control over our destiny.
I don’t like to think this way but “sacrifice” may take a prominent roll if we are serious about preserving the environment, clean water, the air we breathe and the sanctity of the soil. What will we be required to give up?
We need to begin by building a foundation based on science and to return to moral values. Most of all we must come together, for we are in a fight for survival. The United States has the resources. If we combine this with the will to see the truth and arm ourselves with facts, we may again become a force for good in the world.
Yes – there is a climate crisis. Yes – the Russians interfered (and are still interfering) with our election process. Yes – violence in our society has increased. Yes – our Justice system is failing. Yes – healthcare needs to be expanded. Yes – immigration laws need to be re-examined. Ah, yes – why in America do we have people who are homeless and starving?
If we are to make progress in addressing these problems we must find a way to pay for these programs. Americans admire those who become rich and successful. They often become benefactors of the arts, fund research and support charities. We also see those who are excessively wealthy and driven by greed. Leona Helmsley famously remarked, “Only the ‘little’ people pay taxes!” Money is sometimes hidden in covert ways to avoid paying taxes. Perhaps more effort should be directed toward holding these people accountable.
President Eisenhower warned in 1961 about the vast Military Industrial Complex, a union of defense contractors and the armed forces, being a threat to our democracy. Manufacturing weapons of war is a money-making business. In the U.S. millions of dollars are spent on making and deploying bombs. We could spend less money on bombs and more on education. Children are getting sick from the mold in the walls of our public schools and there are roofs that are leaking.
If we want a Government of the People we should see that voters understand what is at stake. Students in our schools should learn how government works. Current events, history and geography should be part of the curriculum. They should be encouraged to enter public service, either the military or AmeriCorps.
Expanding AmeriCorps could make a huge difference in our society. Students rich and poor, of different races and religions, ethnic backgrounds, male and female would be working together. They would develop skills, good working habits and self confidence. They would come to understand they had the power to make a difference in the world and to value public service. The time students invested in public service could be rewarded with financial credits for college or vocational training.
We should also seek out programs already being deployed. We have among us enterprising people who have succeeded in creating innovated programs at minimum cost that have effectively changed lives. It is through education that the potential of each child can be discovered.
Recently, we have seen a great deal of money and time spent in campaigning. We don’t benefit from the endless talk and speculation. We should limit the amount of money used and limit the time campaigning to six months.
The future of our country remains veiled in mystery. The choices we make will be a leap of faith. So far what has sustained us is the heart and character of the American people. They are amazing! They go to work every day, take care of their families and volunteer in their communities, with courage and a sense of humor.