Monday, January 02, 2006

World Concerns

Probably a post like this is more appropriate before the end of an old year. Nevertheless, I think it is still worth notice even if I'm only getting to it now. The subject of this post, then, is the world at large. I know, I know, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to worry and complain less, but I think this may be, what, cathartic perhaps?

When George W. won the first election, the only way I could deal with my depression was to limit my own access to news. Now I know you must be thinking how irresponsible this was, but it was really my only way of avoiding total black despair. I call it the "head-in-sand" approach to life, and it served me well for those first terrible months. However, I realized pretty quickly that complete disconnection from news was not a good idea, so I started reading The New York Times online. This allowed me to control which stories I read, and it prevented me from having to hear G.W.'s whiney little voice. Now, some time into our unconscionable second Bush term, I am once again listening to my favorite news source, NPR. From these sources, and a few others, I've pulled a few of the stories that worried me the most (at least as far as I can remember) in 2005:

The Problem---The War in Iraq
How could this one not make the list. While I don't disagree that Saddam Hussein was a despot of the worst kind, I really don't think that is why "we" invaded Iraq. This is a war for the sake of having one, and it has just about killed any good feelings the rest of the world may have had for us.
On the brighter side---Well, I guess the war really is making Bush look bad, and I suppose some Iraqis are better off. However, I'm really having trouble seeing much of a silver lining in this one. "Exit strategy?" is becoming a common refrain.

The Problem---Bush begins second term
How can this happen? Because Democrats flounder around trying to "capture the middle" while in fact alienating the very group they are supposed to represent- the left. Democratic party leaders think they need to capture that small margin of "swing voters" in order to win elections. I think they should ignore the middle and focus on getting liberal democrats to actually vote. The simple fact is there are more Democrats than Republicans registered in the U.S., so the party has no excuse for losing to a monkey's butt. Did I digress from the stated topic? Perhaps.
On the brighter side---Is there a brighter side to Bush being president? I guess I'm glad that Cheney doesn't have the job.

The Problem---The "War on Terror" aka The War on Civil Liberties
This is one of those problems where the more you read about what is actually going on, the angrier you get. It makes me think of that bumper sticker "If you aren't completely appalled, you haven't been paying attention." From illegal wiretaps to access to you library record, the Bush government took 9/11 as a wonderful opportunity to corrode civil protections.
On the brighter side---Even some members of congress who supported the act are now looking at things a little differently. Plus, the ACLU has been very busy lately.

The Problem---Hurricane Katrina
Aside from the obvious, I think the problem with Katrina is the way people see the disaster. Many people seem to see this (and the Tsunami come to think of it) as being random, truly natural, disasters. However, most of the science news is saying that these unusual weather patterns have a cause- and it's us.
On the brighter side---The reconstruction can now begin, but maybe on a little higher ground? Also, this whole thing has precipitated some pretty interesting conversations about emergency preparedness and about race and economics.

The Problem---Earthquakes in Southern Asia
One of the worst earthquakes in history, and because the people are brown, Muslim, and far away, we don't seem overly interested in helping them. Far more charity has gone to Katrina victims, who are eligible for FEMA and such, than the people in Pakistan.
On the brighter side---See Katrina

The Problem---Intelligent design in public schools
Once again, the creationists are trying to slide their religious bias into science class. Time and again the courts have said that there must be a separation of church and state because we have this thing we like to call the constitution. Ever undaunted, they changed the name of their "theory" to Intelligent Design, and began their campaign all over again. Kansas and several other states either adopted or considered adopting I.D. as a part of science class.
On the brighter side---Okay it's true; I saved this one for last because it actually has a brighter side. We win! We win! One court recently called I.D. "a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory" and banned it's inclusion in classrooms.

Why do a whole long post about things that make me anxious? Because, as I said, talking about them seems to help, but also because there are some bright spots here and there. We can go into 2006 hoping (and praying if you're the type) that all sorts of things are on the proverbial mend. Plus, there are all sorts of good things already happening in the world. For example, the prospect of President Schwarzenegger is slowly but surely fading into the distance.

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