Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?"

Ultra far-right conservatives are probably secretly celebrating the death of the "last true liberal" of the senate, Ted Kennedy.  For me, the end of an era has arrived.  With Ted's death, the dream of Camelot, begun with John F. Kennedy's presidency, seems to be fading away.

But maybe not.  Those of us who grew up during the sixties listening to and buying into the dreams of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy will probably carry on.  Though I am not now, nor have I ever been, a card-carrying communist, I am proud to say that I am a "true liberal" in most areas of my political thinking and affiliation.  I so want the philosophical aspects of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to become a reality, not just in America, but in the world--but not through war or aggression.

That brings me to this health-care controversy gripping our nation right now.  I'm not one to jump into the fray without thinking things through.  I'm not going to mouth off in response to some knee-jerk capitalistic conservative just to make my opinion known.  I have to think it though and come to my own conclusions, make my own decisions.

I know enough about early American history to know that Jefferson, Adams, Madison, et. al, weren't the liberal bleeding-heart types.  The philosophy expressed in the Declaration of Independence was not egalitarian sentiment--Jefferson was a member of the "ruling class," one of the privileged white men who owned property and wielded power at the highest levels.  He wasn't concerned with the slaves he owned, or women, or the disenfranchised.  He wanted to protect the interests of the powerful like himself.  The philosophy of the Declaration is great: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..."  But in Jefferson's day, the meaning of this passage was specific and non-negotiable--white men who owned property were equal to each other and to the British government that oppressed them, and only they had these rights, which didn't apply to anyone else.

The great thing about America is that, as the country has changed, so has our conception of the promise of the Declaration.  Our Constitution reflects those changes as well--the 13th Amendment, which freed slaves, the 19th Amendment, which gave women the vote (finally, damn it!); we are an adaptable country.  We are an inclusive country.  We're willing to admit our mistakes and right our wrongs...most of the time.

Here's what I think about healthcare...I think all people, regardless of age, gender, income, class, party affiliation--whatever one might use to classify them--deserve the same level of care.  A poor person should not have to die from a treatable, preventable disease just because he/she doesn't have money.  Likewise, I don't think a person who flashes a big wad of cash, or pays through the nose for health insurance, should have more or better care than said poor person.  My Mother and Father, who are 78, should get the same care as my two-year-old niece.  That philosophy certainly expands Jefferson's conception of "life," and I'm sure it plays into the ideas of "liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

So who pays for it?  We all do, as we always have, through our taxes; if we're all "created equal," then we should pay taxes when we have jobs or make money.  When we come upon hard times, then maybe we should go back to FDR's WPA--put people to work fixing the roads, beautifying public parks, painting murals on post office walls and government facades, tutoring others for literacy--we could do so much for each other if we just tapped into the potential of every American, if we gave every American the chance to be productive and useful.  They get paid, we get taxes back from that to pay for health care.  We could do more if we'd stop talking and start planning.

I am not opposed to dialogue and compromise.  I am, however, opposed to yelling and scare tactics.  Those people who oppose change simply because it doesn't come from their political party impede true change.  And they do a disservice to all of us.  Debate, discuss, compromise.  I think that's the true "American Way."

Teddy, I'm going to miss you and your imperfect, improbable life.  Even though many considered you a member of the privileged class, you worked hard for the rest of us.  RIP, Teddy.  "And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let the games begin...

Okay, so classes begin in less than a week, and I'm not sure I'm ready for them.  I sent out "welcome" messages to my online classes and have already started receiving emails from the students.  That's what I call getting a head start!

I'm sorry this summer is coming to an end.  It's been productive and relaxing.  I had a great group of students in my online course.  I could take care of them AND my house without compromising either.

End of summer means less travel, but I hope I'll have more visitors and more bonfires.  I didn't burn a single fire this summer--but that had more to do with the burn ban than anything.  Fall and winter are ideal times for fires, so I'm starting to pile the fallen limbs in the fire pit for my first official bonfire of the season--maybe at fall equinox.  I definitely want a fire on Guy Fawkes Day!

Still have a bit of work to do on my courses, so I'll work on that today.  Sigh...if only this could be an "endless" summer without the heat!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Random Thoughts on Summer 2009

Wow!  What a summer!  I managed to do so much--paint the walls and rip up the carpet, have bookshelves installed, teach a class...where did the time go?


And I managed to take three trips this summer--to Houston, Austin, and Durango, CO.  I had fun with my family (color me surprised!).  I also enjoyed Dot and Pete's visit, as well as a visit from my sister, Lydia.


Writing all of this down seems to diminish it.  All of these activities seemed more monumental while I was in the middle of them.  Funny how, when I look back, the work appears effortless, though, at the time, it wasn't to me.  I felt overwhelmed.  When I finished my tasks and returned home from my trips, I took it all in stride.  I have a house more to my liking (the outside needs work!), and I had fun in other places, too.


It's almost time for the fall semester to begin.  I'll be teaching TWO freshman comp classes, a 105 hybrid and my 115 online.  I also have a 215 on campus and a 226 online.  This will be another semester when I'll grade papers constantly...but I've never been one to shy away from a challenge (summer proved that).


Colorado--what can I say?  Exceeded my expectations.  I loved the weather--cool, breezy days.  And the thunderstorms were scary!  So here's a picture of what I loved about Durango (apart from my brother's family, that is):

IMAG0041 How beautiful is that?  I took this picture while I was on the steam train to Silverton, CO, an old mining town turned tourist trap. I could fill my blog with pictures like this, but this gives you a good idea of what I saw everyday.



Enough.  I've had a great summer, am almost sad that it's about to end, but I am looking forward to a new semester.  I'm going to try to enjoy the next two weeks; I don't plan to work constantly, but I do need to get my courses ready.

I hope everyone had a pleasant summer, too.