Everything I am, everything I have, everything I know and feel, I in large part owe to other people.
When I succeed, when I “win“, they-be them the old teachers who grew my brain, or the blue collar workers who grew my community, or the friends and family that grew my heart- win as well. The cops, the park personnel, the coaches, the librarians, the electricians, the local doctor, the school counselors, the sanitation workers; their effort, their time, their protection, their care, their sustenance to myself and my community, all of them, and all of it, defines me.
My “winning” however, my “success”, it isn't represented by my bank account, nor is it parked in my driveway or hanging in my closet.
I’d like to think it’s in my heart, in my actions.
After all, they say some people are so poor, all they have is money.
All those people I mentioned above, and countless others, many of which I've never met and could never know, have ensured that I’ll never be that poor, and for that, I am extremely lucky, and forever grateful.
Of course it isn't always easy, or frankly natural to think of life as so interconnected, to think broadly, and on a macro level when considering what has made us who we are. When things go well, it serves our ego to apply much of the credit to ourselves, to our own self-grown talents, to our own initiative. Moreover, for many Americans, we assume our success -both as individuals and as a Country- is part of a larger divine plan, that our job promotions, our healthy children, our individual and collective wealth and strength, is simply indicative of God’s will.
To hold such views of course, is to-albeit indirectly-call into question the virtues, the efforts, the ambitions-and most disturbingly- the divinely ascribed importance of all those who do not, by our standards, “succeed” . Living in a Town or Neighborhood known for poverty and crime more than sky scrapers and Fine Cuisine? Concerned with securing your next meal or prescription rather than your next rental property or lucrative merger? Well I guess you should of tried-or prayed harder -or so goes the self-interested explanation.
Throughout the history of mankind, and hence this Country, this is the philosophy-essentially Social Darwinism- which has been employed by and has benefited the majority of those who have held power, the philosophy which has rationalized their ENTITLEMENT to more, more money, more power, to more ownership of the intangible, to those things which should not and cannot have a sole owner, such as Patriotism, or Marriage…or God.
This means of course it is a philosophy which has come at the expense of those without power, …African Americans, Hispanics, Women, the Working Class, the Poor, Gays, all those deemed “lazy” or “un-American“ or “sinful”, those accused of "not taking responsibility, and being dependent on those who do" (you know, the 47% a certain someone "isn't worried about").
Now unquestionably, we’ve grown-as a people and as a Country. We’ve evolved…we’ve moved forward…
To a point….
To this point.
We must ask ourselves however-at this point, as we have at so many points before in our Country’s evolution, What Do We Stand For?
Are we a Country who understands that our individual and collective success is interconnected?
Are we a Country that values and invests in all that which puts the United in our States--the bridges, the roads, the schools…the communities.
Are we a Country that shares in sacrifice, that does our part for a greater collective good, that embraces the adage “I am my Brother’s Keeper”?
Do we care for our poor, our sick, our hungry, our vulnerable, our voiceless..our deserving..our Veterans, and in the process, do we humbly refer to it as our "Patriotic" duty, as a representation of our individual and collective compassion?
Or do we condescendingly call it a “hand out”?
Are we a Country that feels that no Five Course Meal served on Wall St., makes up for a single empty plate on Main Street?
Are we a Country that feels an extra zero at the end of one’s Checking Account, does not make up for, and is not worth more than, the zero at the beginning of someone else’s?
Are we a Country that recognizes, that cares, that the mammogram for the Insured Wife of the Banker, will no more detect the cancer of the single uninsured mother working at a diner, than the new technology at a private school, will teach a child a block away at the crowded public school?
And, as we collectively dig ourselves out of this economic hole..are we aware of what caused it? Do we realize that it wasn't precipitated by too much concern for one other, it wasn't the result of excessive compassion or unprecedented selflessness.
Do we understand that Dreamers in Arizona didn't deregulate the Banks, Unions in Wisconsin didn't gamble with derivatives, the Gay Couple in Iowa didn't drain your 401K, and Pro-Choice Women in Ohio didn't pull out their credit card and say "We'll have two Wars please...OH and a millionaire's Tax Cut to boot".
And speaking of being interconnected, of collectivism, of universal sacrifice, of universal compassion, of universal fairness, of universal education and opportunity, of universal health-care, of universal Love….
Do we understand that Some countries are so poor… all they have is money?
And so are some candidates for President.
That can’t be the United States of America.
And that can’t be our President.
We've came too far, made too much progress...
Just ask the Iraq Veteran home with his family in Texas. Ask the Parent in California whose sick child's coverage can no longer be capped. Ask the Lesbian from Utah who knows her President doesn't think her sexuality matters...in battle or at the Alter. Ask the Auto Worker in Michigan or the Teacher in Wisconsin, or the Cop in Minnesota, whose jobs were saved. Ask the Student in New Hampshire or the Home Owner in Colorado, whose loans are now manageable.
Ask Osama Bin Laden --how his stop on the President's Apology Tour turned out.
Oh And I've got 5.2 million more examples as well.
You're better off than you were 4 years ago
Because your Country is better off than it was 4 years ago
Let’s continue moving Forward
Rich in Heart and in Action....
For that is what will make this Country truly, the greatest on earth
Be Good Friends,