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My Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington DC has been magical. A friend (just back from Africa) and I (from Oregon) crossed paths in the nation’s capital. We decided to mark this day by watching the sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial, the site of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
Imagine our surprise to hear young voices as we approached the monument. Students on a field trip had our same idea – to watch the sun rise in this special place on this special day. And they were singing.
The innocence of the moment was transforming. These young people were not a choir, but classmates who love to sing together. There were no news crews in attendance to turn their celebration into a “clip”. All of us who just happened to be there – the joggers, the dog walkers, and the sunrise watchers – were captivated by this happy accident.
After a few songs the students, all from First Christian Schools from many cities, gathered in a circle, arm in arm, and led by an adult leader, read the speech aloud.
While they were reading they welcomed us into their circle. A smart phone with the words to the speech on the screen was being passed, student to student, as each read the next paragraph. The phone came to me and I was so moved by the moment I could not speak. They waited, and I read:
When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”
We walked as a group to Dr. King’s. Memorial. We listened to speakers. We paid our respects at the grand carving of the man who inspired our day. My heart was filled with hope and joy as I watched the students leave for their long trip home.
I was their age when Dr. King became important to me. They brought life back to my memories of The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the iconic images of humanity stretching the length of the reflecting pond, and the off-script speech that still moves me to tears a half a century later. Dr. King won my heart that day. And today it was as though he replied in the voices of young people, “I love you, too”.
First photo by Jeanene Louden, second and third photos by Cheryl Hatch.
You may not approve of how Mr. Duncan arrived in Texas, but you can join me in thanking him for exposing our disjointed public health system. He died this morning. But our collective concern about a less than impressive response to communicable disease is NOW alive and well, in part because of the risk he brought home from west Africa. Influenza (now linked to CNS damage in children), dengue fever, and yes, ebola, are all public health risks. There are many more.
The days of ‘government small enough to drown in a bathtub’ spawned mischief like the sequester cuts and the bumper sticker notion that there is ‘no such thing as a good tax’. County health departments across the nation, our first line of defense from and response to public health threats, have been cut or eliminated as a part of the clever crusade of “right sizing”. While it may be fashionable to think public health is not really a public concern worthy of public funding, the predictable outcomes are the result of neglect.
IMHO a ‘good tax’ is one that is an efficient and effective use of our collective resources. I think it is time for the no-good-tax people to ante up.
We have all seen the recent question, “which is the bigger threat: ISIS, climate change or ebola?” Let’s change that question. Which threat is more profitable to multinational corporations? The actions by their lobbyists should answer that question.
There is big money to be made as long as the military industrial complex can be stoked by “wars on”. Climate change is for another day, after all the cash is milked from the petrochemical cow. By comparison, ebola is barely on the legislative radar.
Infection numbers are expected to rise from the current 6,000 reported cases (estimate to actually be 20,000 by The World Health Organization) to 1.4 million by January if we don’t change course. (1) The US has promised 100 field hospitals but will barely staff one. The funds expended by non-governmental organizations like Doctors Without Borders is coming from the Gates Foundation and The World Bank. (2) Facts updated just today paint an even more grim picture. (3)
If the serially defunded World Health Organization isn’t your preferred source, the Centers for Disease Control has reached the same conclusions. Important people are talking, but not enough people are in a position to act. (4)
Ebola has a 50 – 70% kill rate and infects a high percentage of those exposed. And while the situation is currently limited to post-conflict, almost “failed” nations, to believe that Americans do not face similar shortages of health care services in “medically failed” regions of the US would be a serious mistake. (5)
Add to this inadequate ability to respond to public health issues the fact that there are currently multiple strains of the disease and the real risk should begin to reveal itself. To paraphrase an auto ad from a few years back, “this is not your father’s ebola”.
My answer to the original question: ebola, climate change, ISIS in that order. And you?
Image thanks to theglobalmail.com
The same five Supreme Court Justices that brought US the Citizens United decision have taken the next step toward the gentrification of American law. They continue to interpret the constitution as though it favored those of means. What to do? From the comfort of your own home you can send them a postcard an share your dismay.
Chief Justice Roberts
Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas
1 First St NE Washington, DC 20543
Message side: (this is just what my postcard said – say how you feel) don’t forget the black edges (a sharpie will do)
Situations in Europe would have us revisit the debate, “Democracy v Stability” as we consider our role in international affairs. Today I am asking, “what kind of stability?”
‘American leadership through the threat of force’ is consistent with a ‘maintenance of the status quo’ notion of stability, but currently fails any sustainability test. The very same who believe America should be ever ready to flex muscle do not support any viable means to fund their intentions.
These Hawks appear happy to spend tax dollars but reluctant to ask those who fund their campaigns to pay taxes. So, while top private and corporate earners have far more skin in the game than most, they pay proportionately less into the kitty than a kindergarden teacher.
In compensation for these opposing values, Hawks embrace austerity to justify the abuse of American warriors: enlistment promises are broken; the wounded are brought home and then left behind; and funds are found for new war planes but not for hand sanitizer for the remotely deployed. By now we should all know that austerity is a costume worn by too many at the masquerade ball we call American politics today.
As long as Hawks burden breadwinners and protect cake eaters The People must resist their chest-beating racketeering.
Image thanks to rapgenius.com