Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peace in Our Time Here on Our Shores

[A] just peace includes not only civil and political rights — it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

President Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize speech, Oslo, Norway, 12/10/09

As I listened to Barack Obama speak those words midway through his speech in Oslo this morning, they hit me like a ton of bricks.  I don't know if he planned it, or even realized it, but he was talking as much about the plight of Americans as he was of any other citizens of the world.

We are at war here, and we're losing the battle to save ourselves.  The Barbarians are living among us (though not beside us, since their communities are gated fortresses), using  innocuous, often American-sounding names in order to hide the fact that they are busily working from within to destroy the very fabric of our lives.

They go by many monikers -- plutocrats, Fat Cats, moguls, tycoons, Big Cheeses,  Moneybags, Wheeler-dealers, Head Honchos. . .and those are just the nice terms.  (Some of them used to be called "Captains of Industry" but since that ship has sailed, they don't answer to that anymore.)

They do their work right out in the open--no fear--because there are enough  partners-in-crime among the high mucky-mucks in our nation's government to keep them safe and happy.  The enemies of the people don't have to resort to bearing arms or setting up artillery.  No strafing from the air, no carpet-bombing, no picking us off from the roof-tops.  After years of pretending that all of their seemingly destructive actions are for our own good, they've got us right where they want us.

You really have to hand it to them--they vanquished us with nothing more than obfuscation and clever lies--that and vaults overflowing with ill-gotten gains.

They used the tactics of every enemy worth its stripe--first  the stroking ("Let us make as much as we can and we'll make sure it trickles down to you."), then the cajoling ("We're a capitalistic country. You understand about free markets, don't you?"), then the intimidating ("The government will turn us all into Socialists.  Communism won't be far behind."), and finally the outright war ("If you don't let us have our way, we will destroy you--we have the Chamber of Commerce and the entire Republican Party on our side.  You have only what we've allowed you to have.  Chew on that for a while.")

So consequently we have the sort of country that Obama decried in his Oslo speech:  Citizens without access to enough food or medicine, reports of dirty water, an educational system ranking lower than some third world countries, capable men and women rooting around for jobs that will keep their families intact.

We are those people.  The people that other, richer countries are either pitying or trying to ignore.  The people who had it all and gave it away.  The people who can't muster up the will to fight the enemy within our own borders.  The people who may ultimately lose it all.

As Obama said this morning, "An absence of hope can rot a society from within". He was the champion of hope and we bought it to such a delirious degree, we lifted him into the White House and took to the streets wildly cheering our good fortune. 

Our hope, if not absent now, is at least preoccupied.  We need it back if we're ever going to take care of our own business again.  We need the man who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize today to come home and lead us out of this.  We'll fight as hard as we can, but we can't do it without a leader.  He is it, and it's time he took a good, long look at the one country whose problems he can actually do something about.


(Cross-posted at Talking Points Memo here.)


  1. Wow! You should be the President's speech writer, scheduler, and personal adviser. You are so dead on in your analysis of our current situation. I only hope that he sees the connection between what he said in his speech and the plight of the American people. We all need to remain hopeful and keep fighting for what we believe. Those "Captain's of Industry" have been working to enslave us for the last 100 years, and they pretty much succeeded at this point. There is no more truth, there is only spin. There is no lore logic, there is only emotional argument based on fear. There is no more civility and morality, only the struggle to keep what one group has out of the hands of another group. We're all put into categories and those "Captains" pit each other against ourselves. It's a distraction to keep us from realizing that they are the common enemy we all have.
    This is a great post and it should be repeatedly spread out over the entire blogosphere. As we face setback after setback these days, we do have to remain hopeful and dedicated to our cause. We need to continue to fight for logic, truth, and civility. Thanks for putting it into such wonderful perspective.

  2. Stan, great comment. You're right that civility and morality seem to have lost the battle. Greed drives everything now. The Fat Cats have managed to convince most of the country that the worst thing that could happen to us all is regulation.
    We live with regulations every day of our lives, but somehow we've exempted the champions of Big Business, who've proven beyond a doubt that if anyone needs some clamps put on, it's them.
    I don't know how to get through to the powers-that-be that this attitude is destroying us. The frustrating part is that even when the power bloc changes (every two to four years), we just get more of the same.
    But I keep pushing, hoping that enough voices will be heard--before it's too late.

    (Love the Santa hat. It's just so darned becoming!)

  3. This was wonderful. So many warmongering chest thumpers love to brag about how 'Merica is the best country in the world, dammit, and if people don't want to be like us, we'll force them to!

    They conveniently forget that we've got some pretty big problems right here, including letting our own citizens die because we're too goddam stingy to understand that we need to care for everyone. In speaking to friends from other countries, they are puzzled that health care reform is even being debated. They are also more than a little appalled that such a prosperous nation would let so many of its people fall through the cracks.

    I do still have hope. I hope that our President will regain his eloquence and shake off the setbacks and provide inspiration to those who need it. I still believe in him.

  4. Beth, thanks for commenting. Yes, my Canadian cousins just scratch their heads at our seeming willingness to allow the insurance and drug industries to dictate our health care services. It's crazy! You would think congress and the media would finally come to terms with just how crazy it is, but no--they just keep pretending it's good for us

    So here's to 2010, the year WE take over and twist the arms of those idiots until they're forced to GET it.


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