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Scrambled notions of a closet thinker (07/11/2010)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Words don’t come easy anymore. Tablet after tablet, I jot down scattered thoughts and one-liners, ruled paper heavy with those disheartening subjects I have shied away from in my column – politics, religion, and the unending war. Optimistic, cheery, and lighthearted discourse doesn’t present itself as easily these days.

Besides, everything wise or foolish, that can possibly be spoken or written, has already been said. Quotes credited to others, down through the ages of civilization, place current imbibers of word play at a wretched disadvantage! All the good ones (quotes) have already been spoken for. Drats!

We have complicated life by attempting to simplify it. Technologically speaking, mankind has created a new generation of keyboard junkies! Invention has lured the physically ambitious, nose-to-the grindstone laborers from grit and gumption muscle flexing to pale, malnourished screen heads, is intimidating reliable, pencil-pushing, old school bookkeepers, and has reduced communication to mindless baby talk.

My mantra for the state of the union has long been “it’s all politics!” It’s hard to avoid the ranting and finger pointing of day-to-day news. It’s everywhere! I refuse to take seriously in-your-face articles and interviews that bash and cast blame on elected officials primarily due to their party affiliations. Dedication to their party does not translate into satisfying voters’ wishes.

Political unrest, dissension, and personal gain have hindered the U.S. Administration and Congress from working together as a whole body, to find common ground for implementing practical and fair solutions to pressing trickle-down issues, by means of compromise and respect for each others’ positions. I will continue to bypass the daily B.S. (bipartisan sabotage.) Along with President Obama’s health care plan came vicious criticism, with political undertones, to denigrate his proposals, asserting that the government is seeking far too much power and control over citizens’ rights and personal lives. Then comes an extremely destructive oil spill in the middle of the ocean, and who does John Q. Public proclaim should be totally responsible to head the massive clean up and to restore tourism and countless family livelihoods along the Gulf? That’s the same guy! The one previously accused of allocating too much authority to government. Go figure!

It’s no secret that people in mainstream society are failing to claim responsibility for their own unethical actions today, using the shaky stock market, bankers, and government actions as scapegoats for their financial foibles. “Pass the buck politics” has suffocated our present U.S. Administration with an accumulated landslide of debacles far from resolution.

Most of those who voted for Barack Obama didn’t necessarily have a lot of faith that his leadership would emerge as the “fix-all” answer to our country’s debilitating mismanagement; they were simply voting against the opposition. What a fickle body of voting citizens we are! Is anyone really willing to make personal sacrifices for their country’s stability? Self-centered patriotism stifles any positive progress.

As Americans, we have the freedom and the opportunity to choose to be part of the solution, or stagnant, apathetic whiners who crouch like vultures at the receiving end of democracy, rather than acting as productive participants in the give and take of life in a self-governing society.

Rampant racial profiling by officers of the law and racial bias of the criminal justice system are disgraceful realities that have stripped citizens in places of authority of any lingering crumbs of integrity and honor.

One of my most treasured, and the wisest novel I’ve ever read (again and again) is “The Content of Our Character,” c 1990, written by author, columnist, and self-described Black conservative Shelby Steele. Every American should embrace its truth.

Steele writes, “Whites gain superiority by not knowing blacks; blacks gain entitlement by not seeing their own responsibility for bettering themselves. The power each race seeks in relation to the other is grounded in a double-edged ignorance of the self as well as of the other.”

After all, all any one of us is is a simple human being. Where is the logic in contaminating our brief sojourns here with negative energy?

Janet Burns can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.  


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