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2010: A Face Oddity


Another year comes to an end and all that’s left is to count up our cuts and bruises and tally the score. We are told that the recession is over; it ended, in fact, last year. Really.

It may be for the corporate bigwigs who have seen their profits amped up back to pre-recession levels for many industries. However, that hasn’t translated to most of us – unemployment continues to be in the double digits, meaning that one out of every ten Americans remains without a job. With the Republicans threatening to pass on extending benefits for those who have been out of work for a long while, it could very well be a very cold winter indeed for the American working class.

Homes continue to be foreclosed upon in record numbers, thanks in part to predatory mortgage companies who despite being given Federal money to help homeowners stay in their homes, instead mislead and stall consumers, giving them false information, then denying that they’ve received crucial paperwork and even returning checks so that the homeowners go into default and foreclosure proceedings can begin. The dirty little secret here is that not only do these mortgage companies get tax credits as well as government assistance they are also free to go after the original homeowners for the amount they’ve already been compensated, garnishing wages and raiding bank accounts. If there has ever been a class of businessmen more rapacious and dishonest in the history of this country, I honestly can’t think of any.

Greed and corruption rule our country. Our government is essentially in the pockets of big business and has no interest in improving conditions so that the general public isn’t continually raped by greedy corporate interests. In fact, it’s in their best interest not to change things – re-election funding comes largely from large corporate donors and lobby groups.

And yet the public continues to allow it. Our apathy is monumental; few Americans have more than a cursory understanding of current events and generally form their opinions based on sound bites or sloganeering done by either their own political party or by a media entity such as CNN or Fox News. Newspapers, once the watchdog of government, are mostly owned by big businesses now and run puff pieces more than serious news. The only time the public seems to get any sort of interest in a news item is if a celebrity gets into trouble or dies. Then the internet goes crazy with people looking for information anywhere and everywhere and accuracy becomes a secondary priority.

You only get the government you deserve, and there’s a ring of truth to that. However, it has to be said that while we have been as docile as sheep being led to the slaughter, we have also been led by those who were supposed to protect us – the legislators who dismantled laws and agencies that protected consumers from rapacious corporate greed, the businessmen who put profits ahead of reason and sense and the media who were supposed to watch out for interests have instead been watching out for their bottom lines.

There are those who cringe whenever the word “socialism” is used. “We’re in a democracy,” they thunder, “and socialism is the next step to communism. Socialism is how our liberties and freedom are taken away.”

Bollocks. Countries like Sweden and Canada have some of the greatest amount of freedom of any civilized nations on earth. And as for the great democratic freedoms that our country is supposed to give us, has anyone notice how they have slowly become eroded away? In the name of Homeland Security, law enforcement agencies can seize and hold people without charging them. Assets can be seized, people suspected of terrorism can be – and have been – tortured.

It also should not be discounted that the fewer economic opportunities you have, the less freedom you have and economic opportunities are shrinking in this country. Jobs are going overseas for the simple reason that paychecks are smaller in India, Mexico and China. They don’t need to pay for health insurance or benefits; there are no unions. It’s a win-win situation.

Except in the long run, they will lose. The American middle class is disappearing, right before our very eyes. Soon, we will be either rich or poor. There will be no in-between. There will be no consumers. All the money, all the power will rest in the hands of a very few. In point of fact, it already does.

So we slogged through 2010 the same way we did through 2009 and we’re no better off. Not that we expected to be; we do have a new healthcare act which the Republicans are promising to dismantle. We do have tax cut extensions which the Republicans, who are so concerned about the deficit, extended to the wealthiest class as well – in fact, had the Democrats not caved, they would have allowed the tax cuts to expire at the end of the year. Ask me again if the GOP gives a crap about you.

Do I sound bitter? Yup, it’s true – I am angry that so much pain is being levied on people who don’t deserve it so that the rich can get richer. I’m bitter that nobody in this country cares enough to take it back from the people who have control of it.

But being bitter is a waste of energy. Staying angry is pointless. The world will turn with or without my help. The words of one blogger aren’t going to change a hell of a lot. Still, there is much to be thankful for. I have my wits, a roof over my head and people that love me. What I have in my heart, I keep no matter what. It can’t be taken away from me and it can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

Yes, there is injustice but there has always been. There is greed but that’s nothing new. We have the option of letting it defeat us, or overcoming it. That is our choice and our challenge. It is this choice that makes us who we are and what defines us. In 2011, it is my choice to turn away from greed and anger and turn to love.

I will make more time for my friends and family this year. I will turn away from things that aren’t worth my time. I will aspire to inspire through my words and deeds. I will show love to all those who are willing to receive it; I will show compassion for all those who need it and I will be present when I am needed.

I may rant now and again about things that bother me but what you see on this page is about as angry as I intend to get. I will treat all those with respect that I can and those I cannot bring it into my heart to respect I will say nothing about. I will try to move through this world and spread only happiness and good cheer around; I will try to leave every place I visit, physically and digitally, better than I found it.

I will try to be a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better man. These aren’t easy tasks, but they are doable and even if I’m not formally labeling them as resolutions, I am nonetheless resolved to do them. This is my covenant with myself; to let go of the bitterness at the things I see and slay the dragons of greed with words of kindness and love. It is a good year for love – the world sorely needs more of it.

I will think of myself less and of others more. I will stand with those who stand for right and oppose those who stand for greed. I will reach out more, listen more and interrupt less. I will hug more, kiss more and flirt…well, about the same. I will plant smiles like Johnny Appleseed and leave them everywhere I go, online and offline.

In 2010 my face was often in a scowl; that ends here, now, tonight. In 2011, a scowl will be less common. I intend to redecorate my face with smiles and urge you to do the same. It is time to throw down against the angry and meet the world with open arms. It is time to hope and dream and start anew. It is time to make this truly a Happy New Year.

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3 Responses

  1. Happy New Year to you and yours, God bless.

  2. Wow. Yes, I agree. Love is the answer. This year has dealt me an awful hand of cards. But Gods hand of cards for me has reversed all the negative that has occurred this year in my life. I decided too to love. Love the betrayers and haters and those who love me especially. God bless you and happy new year to you and your loved ones…

  3. Here here! Even if you try not to pay attention to what is happening to what was once the greatest country in the world it is impossible, My spouse is addicted to Fox News. Glenn Beck, O’Riley and Hannity. It is all he watches. I keep telling him he needs to start a 12 step program. All that news watching is making him a very angry person. Civil unrest he screams. They want to take away our 2nd amendment rights, We are already seeing the beginning. In the UK, in Northern California. I believe that people are going to continue to get angry. God save us. I am with you Carlos. Love, family and friends. So Happy New Year to all! May things improve in 2011.

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