Friday, October 24, 2008

Questions and Shame

First of all, I REALLY need someone to tell me what the problem is with Socialism. One blog that helps a bit is "The Economics of Social Ownership." I THINK the poster above explains the underlying aversion of many, but do they really understand Socialism?

I've needed this answer since I was a teenager, btw. I came home from school one day and announced "I think Socialism is a good idea." My father came unDONE. "Who's putting these ideas in your head?!?" he shouted. "I read some books and figured it out for myself!" I yelled back. "You don't just come up with an idea like that, someone had to give it to you!" Yeah, there were a lot of exclamation points in that dialog. I'm STILL miffed at my dad about his apparent assumption that I couldn't have an idea of my own. That really chapped my hide, and still does.

For decades I've visited places that were Socialist Democracies - Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Canada, England, Germany, Australia, etc. It has seemed to me throughout the years that the people living in those socialised countries were better cared for than a lot of the people here or in pure-d monarchies or dictatorships around the world. So I have never understood the extreme reaction in this country to the idea of Socialism.

On a separate but related note, I saw where a GOP official in New Mexico had a letter published in the local paper that made a number of sadly ignorant and inflammatory statements about Muslims, and specifically called Barrack Obama "a muslim socialist." Otero County's GOP Head, Interior Decorator Marcia Stirman has been asked by the Otero County GOP Chairwoman, Sassy Tinling, to step down after a fairly massive outcry against the letter. All I can say is "wow." I mean, in this day and age seeing the AP wield archaic terms such as "interior decorator" and "chairwoman" is pretty stunning, and then there's that name "Sassy.." What? Oh the bit about Obama being called "a muslim solicalist?" Well his middle name IS Hussein!

The core point here is, why should it make any difference WHAT religion a candidate is? I don't remember American History class teaching us that the Pilgrims fled Europe in order to practice only Christianity. "Religious freedom" is the term I remember best. Not "freedom to be Christian," but "freedom of religion." The underlying intent seems clean to me; Ya gets ta be whateveh ya wants ta here.

Can you imagine being a Muslim in this country right now? Does ANYone think we're making the situation with the Peoples of the Middle East any better by out and out loathing anyone who even looks like someone's idea of a Muslim? Does ANYone else remember Hitler and his racial profiling, or the painful embarrassment of the Japanese Interment camps here in the US during WWII? I remember my first MIL, who was Chinese, telling me how they saved their Japanese friends' things for them when they were taken away to the camps, and of how she had to wear a big pin on her coat that stated "I am Chinese." MIT has a terrific Asian American Studies site, including a stunning WWII pamphlet on How to Tell Japs From the Chinese."

I was born years after WWII's end, and when I was 12 my first real boyfriend was the son of a half-Japanese man and his very blond Caucasian wife. In otherwords, Bob was 1/4 Japanese, and his father was a bonafide American war hero, to boot! Once again, my father came unDONE. Fortunately, my mother prevailed, and Bob ended up sharing my first kiss, a very fond memory.

I think the most dangerous emotion is fear. And people in this country are afraid right now. Afraid of being hurt, killed, but most of all afraid that our quiet little lives will be taken away somehow. Disrupted and changed, and change is the scariest thing of all when you've been top dog forever. The challenge facing the world right now, and in particular the American People, is to release our fears and embrace the possiblities inherent in change. We can do it, folks. Smile at one another, give someone a helping hand or appreciation, love one another and laugh. Let's not take it all so damned serious, okay? Please?

1 comment:

Joyce said...

Els, I had similar ideas about socialism. While taking my history courses, I used to be amazed by the people who promoted Democratic Socialism, especially during the events before WWII. I thought that must be the answer to government that would make sure everyone was looked after, not just the richest, or the upper classes.

When the Republicans in the US throw out the word Socialism as if it were a dirty word, I shake my head in disbelief! That word seems to share the same fate as Marxism and Communismn in the American psyche.

In the end, the leaders of a country set the stage for what kind of government people get. There have been good elected Communist leaders (Allende) and horrible Communist leaders (Pol Pot); there have been great democratic socialist leaders and bad democratic socialist leaders; there have been wonderful capitalist leaders (Roosevelt) and bad capitalist leaders (fill in the blank!)

To me, Socialism means the greatest good for the largest number of people, including universal health care, democratic institutions, a living wage for everyone and a humane way of getting rid of a leader when he is particularly bad (non-confidence votes, for instance).

Anyway, I'm now getting off my soapbox.