Life is often measured and evaluated through what we refer to as milestones. If you see life as a journey in the metaphorical sense, then the milestone is a marker, an indicator of distance between one place in life and another. For practical purposes, all a milestone really is an occasion to recognize where you are, give some thought to where you’ve been and ponder just where it is that you are headed. A milestone is often the birth of one’s first child, or one’s first girlfriend or boyfriend. Milestones are subjective, belonging both to the eye of the beholder and the eyes of the beheld. A loving parent looks upon an adult son or daughter with eyes that see not only the man or woman before them, but the infant of times past and everything in between. For soldiers in combat a milestone is often nothing more than the last phone call to a loved one, or waking up alive to fight another day.
Death is also a milestone. As such, I would like to acknowledge the passing of Anna Brown, a soldier and victim of the decades long offensive against the working class as part of the perpetual domestic and global class war that is the defining characteristic of the United States of America. Ms. Brown died on Sept 20 2011 in circumstances indicative of the institutional contempt and neglect of the poor and homeless in the U.S., a contempt that in itself is only an extension of the neglect and contempt for America’s working class, a working class which makes up the vast majority of the population of the U.S.
A tornado destroyed Ms. Brown’s home, she and her two children moved into another place of residence and soon afterwards, Ms. Brown lost her job. She fell behind on rent, water and heating bills and soon lost custody of her children and found herself homeless. Throughout all of this, it is believed that she was suffering from untreated mental illness issues. Her last moments on earth consisted of being thrown out of a hospital in debilitating pain, arrested and dragged into a jail cell where she died about 15 minutes after officers left her moaning weakly in pain on the cell’s floor. And then she was gone, her plans for the future, her worries, her hopes and her dreams for her children, gone.
I would like to think that upon hearing the details of Ms. Brown’s passing that most people would think of their own children, their grandchildren, or even themselves, ANY human being or fellow citizen experiencing a similar fate. In other words, I would like to think that there exists in the U.S. a basic level of shared empathy. But there is no such shared empathy in the U.S.
If there were, would it not be reasonable to assume that someone somewhere would have intervened in such a way as to spare Ms. Brown her eventual fate? Would it not be reasonable to assume that the hospital, instead of turning her away in pain, would have kept her overnight, just 1 night, under observation? Would it also not be reasonable to assume that the responding officers, upon encountering a woman complaining of debilitating pain would have implored the staff to check one more time as to the cause of Ms. Brown’s agony?
Would it not be reasonable to assume that, in a nation with national health care (like ALL other modern nations worldwide) or with adequate unemployment insurance (like ALL other modern nations worldwide) that Ms. Brown would have had a fighting chance to have been treated for her mental illness and to have survived the condition which eventually killed her, and to avoid being left on the street simply because a CONservative/NeoLiberal economy failed to provide her a job?
Is it not reasonable to assume that in a nation in which a privileged few make more money in one day than most could possibly hope to make in several lifetime’s that something more could have been done for Ms. Brown, and the countless Ms. Brown’s of the world?
If a real and healthy sense of shared empathy existed in the U.S. is it not reasonable to expect that perhaps, perhaps Ms. Brown would still be alive to raise her two children?
Is it not reasonable? Or is expecting the simple of acknowledgement of a humanitarian idea like equality simply a dream in the U.S.?
And is it time to ask ourselves are we simply dreamers, or are we actually willing to do what it takes to realize the modest dreams we have for ourselves, our families and for our fellow citizens?
In my opinion, an empathetic, and reasonable nation would not suffer the collection of racist, theocratic, regressive criminal con men, swindlers and bigots that is the GOP. An empathetic and reasonable nation would also not accept a watered down, compromised and slightly less racist and criminal version of the same in the form of Democrats. I include myself, naturally, as a member of the society that has created and nurtured the current state of affairs.
I DO NOT include myself as a member of society who will stand idly by and allow the status quo to continue. By every legal and nonviolent means that is available to me I will resist the continuation of a society and a system devoid of equality, justice and empathy. By every legal and nonviolent means available to me I will actively pursue the creation of a society that anchors itself in equality, justice and empathy.
The hallmarks of a decent society are not spectacular; equality, justice, shared sacrifice AND prosperity, no ceilings on success, but a guaranteed, humanitarian and basic level of existence that is guaranteed for and by All citizens.
These things are attainable, I know it, you know it, we know it. So what are WE doing about it?