|March 8, 2006|
How many outrages does it take ... ?
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
"If You're Not Outraged ... You're Not Paying Attention." Those were the words I saw on a bumper-sticker not long ago. Maybe I have been paying a little too much attention lately -- because I thought that bumper sticker was right on target. Anybody else out there got a little outrage overload?
Outrage isn't a state of mind where I want to stay for long. I bet you don't either. But we don't have to stay stuck on outrage. Instead, we can take a good, hard look at our national attention deficit disorder -- and start to stand up again for "truth, justice and the American way."
Fewer and fewer folks today think our country is being run very well. But who's speaking up about it? It turns out that lots of interesting folks are -- even if you haven't seen them on your TV. Religious leaders -- from mainstream Protestant denominations to the Pope -- have spoken out against the war in Iraq -- and reports of human degradation in the name of national security.
It turns out that prominent conservatives are speaking out for sanity too. Arch-conservative icon William F. Buckley just declared that "Our mission [in Iraq] has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans." He describes the Iraqis as now believing that "everything is the fault of the Americans."
Another critical voice is that of Dr. Lawrence Britt, whose career included executive positions with Xerox, Mobil, and Allied Chemical. Britt claims that the Bush Administration has conflated its War on Terror with World War II to gain political support and be able to get away with almost anything.
He asks us to consider the following: "On an average day in World War II, 35,000 people died. To equate the War on Terror with the magnitude of that kind of conflict and the amount of hysteria that's generated for political purposes is incredible. Yes [9/11] was a spectacular event. Part of the reason was it was covered by cameras and repeated over and over. No other event in history has ever been covered like that.... So yes, 3,000 people were killed, but do you turn your democracy on its head?"
In his nationally syndicated column, Roberts has also weighed in on the misdirection of the Bush administration. He cautions Americans that we are faced "with a regime that brooks no dissent, seeks no expert advice, and deceitfully pursues agendas inimical to the U.S. Constitution and to the rights and safety of citizens. We have already fallen dangerously far when the U.S. Department of Justice produces justifications for torture of detainees held without charges or access to attorneys, when Congress and the judiciary acquiesce to the executive disregarding statutory law, and when wars of aggression are started on the basis of lies and false accusations."
Outrage, anyone? These critics are the kind of people you would expect to support a Republican president and his Republican Congress. But clearly they have been paying attention to more than just the administration talking points -- and they don't like the direction we're headed.
So what's the cure for outrage overload? Turn off the news? Just tune out? After all, who likes staying stuck in outrage? And so many of us feel our voices and votes don't really count anyway.
But if you know the Serenity Prayer, you know you don't just stop after asking for "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." You also ask God to grant "the courage to change the things I can -- and the wisdom to know the difference."
If we do nothing -- if we assume our voices and votes don't make any difference -- we lack courage and wisdom. Genuine political reform is possible -- if we demand it. Recently several states such as Arizona have put power back in the hands of the people by enacting Clean Election laws -- laws that take big money back out of politics. More states and cities are about to follow suit. Maybe in this election year even Congress will feel pressured to clean up the unprecedented levels of corruption on Capitol Hill.
Some folks feel more comfortable just not paying attention to the bad news. But scratch the surface of that serenity, and you'll find a lot of anxiety and doubt. We can't just pretend everything's okay. We need a little outrage -- to give us the courage to speak out against cronyism, incompetence and corporate crime.
And more than ever we Americans need God's wisdom. If we would all start paying a little more attention -- and feeling just enough outrage to do something about it -- we can begin once more to fulfill our nation's vision of liberty and justice -- with real opportunity -- for all.
Got outrage? Then get wise -- join with other voices speaking up for Clean Election laws -- support candidates who stand for real democracy. It's time to stop government being hijacked by big money special interests. Let's get government back to work -- for average, working Americans.
Sarah S. White
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Sarah S. White is a resident of Longview, Texas, where she practices family law and is a regular contributor to the opinion page of the Longview News-Journal.
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