I shed tears of relief at the sight of Barak Obama’s landslide victory on television earlier this month. We joined a crowd at the Jester, a local pub, to watch the speeches; and even though it was Dennis Kucinich who gave me faith in the process again, I allowed myself to commit to the Obama campaign and prayed that change would be more than a tag line. Indeed, I hope it is. While the year to come seems lined with possibility – or perhaps because it does – I find our current social and political situation all that harder to take. I still feel a certain shame upon America, one earned in part by each of us.
This shame has a cure on many levels, through action. Proper, constructive, corrective action we can take as a society. In fact, every step we take to clear this haze of fear and rage that have blanketed our country since 911 will help heal the wounds of our shame.
There are two Immediate changes I want to see: Impeachment and Reduced Airport Security. Below is from my last petition to Congress seeking its support in impeachment proceedings:
Congress members, please consider my 17 month old daughter and her life as an American citizen. She needs her political servants to be examples of integrity and high moral fiber. Please show her that you are here to serve the people of her country and that you have the courage to bring criminals to justice, that our leaders are subject to the same laws as the rest of us. Let your actions be an example to my child of leadership she can be proud to follow, not be ashamed of. Are we brave or are we cowards? Why are we afraid to hold our leaders accountable? Are we ashamed to know we’ve stood by and let them betray their people? Are we afraid to see that we all have a hand in this crime of greed? We can change for the better. Today. I believe in you.
As for airport security, our last trip through LAX turned me red with shame. Behind us in line was a pale, gray haired woman in her late seventies or early eighties who was just hanging up with her family member as we entered the ‘take your shoes, shirts, socks, belts, bras, sweaters, and fake eyelashes’ place in line. It was obvious she rarely traveled and had little idea how to navigate the tragifactory of airport security. I turned back as Rob & I removed our shoes to find her looking a bit confused and asked if she needed help taking off her shoes. She smiled sheepishly, saying “I can barely walk.” Achingly frustrated, I asked the attendant if she really needed to. “Everyone has to,” he told me.
So, I bent and removed her bright, clean, shiny white tennis shoes then replaced them afterwards tying them “very loosely” at her request to protect her sore, swollen feet. I blushed in shame and anger that this elder should be subject to such !@$@##%% in the name of National Security.
Muttering in disgust, I stalled a bit while collecting my belongings (a bit passive-aggressive and pathetically ineffective, but it felt good). Just then, I saw another agent directing a young wheel-chaired woman off to one of the “check ’em again, Sam” booths! Anyone with one eye could see that she was handicapped, not a terrorist. All I could do was look toward the Managing TSA Agent, who had also watched the woman escorted behind the Plexiglass Curtain, and exchange a look of shared shame.
No amount of travel or information could effectively desensitize me to this phenomenon. When we’ve become so run by Xenophobia that we don’t hesitate to suspect our handicapped and elderly citizens because they, too, might be ‘one of them trying to get us’, we America, have sunk to a new low.
I hope greatly that the next four years will see a change in us. A rise in our courage, a reduction in our fear, a grounding support in our local economies, and an increase in our willingness and action toward innovative, sustainable products. I feel Hope. I feel present and ready to make changes in my own attitudes and behavior in order to be part of the solution. An example of a solution. I look forward to being an Average American in that way.