Thankful Yet Hopeful

December 10, 2009

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Traffic is getting worse. People have less patience and shorter tempers. Americans are willing to nearly kill each other in the name of bargains. Yes, the holiday season is once again upon us. In this time of religious remembrance, I’d like to talk about things I’m thankful for and things I’d like to see in my lifetime.

I’m thankful I live in a country where write my opinion with little or no fear of reprisal from those who disagree. While some would argue that freedom of speech is being slowly trampled on in the United States, we must all remember that the privilege to speak freely must be tempered by rational thought and realization of consequences.

In my lifetime I’d like to see certain “taboo” subjects able to be discussed without people looking at you with the same face they make when one smell sour milk. Sex is the big one. Americans have a strange love/hate relationship with sex that stems from being a country with exceptional freedoms but still having Puritanical roots.

I’m thankful I live in a country where I can proudly proclaim my agnosticism and have only minimal reactions. There are places in this world where not dressing the “correct” way can get you killed, so freedom of religion is a pretty big deal.

In my lifetime I’d like to see an even bigger separation of church and state. For all you right-wing Christians who just freaked out over that, imagine this: You’re driving down main street in your town and pass by town hall. There is a lovely display out front of Muhammad fasting for Ramadan, proudly bowing toward Mecca with his prayer book … wait, what? That brief bit of outrage you may or may not have felt is not unlike what many Muslims or Jews or Atheists feel when the government has any kind of religious display over another. We can’t continue to call ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave as long as we fear religious equality and cower under 1800’s conventions.

I’m thankful for the Internet. Yes, I’m a geek. Yes, I’m probably addicted. But hey, you’re reading this online right now so you might be too. The internet is an amazing tool that allows anyone to get nearly any piece of information. It’s a wonderful diversion from life. It’s a way to communicate with people across vast distances.

In my lifetime I’d like to see a bigger government stance on what exactly net neutrality is and should be. I have no problems with communications companies making a buck off the wires they worked hard to string. I have a big problem with communications companies not clearly presenting the terms of service they will deliver while more or less being a monopoly. There are quite a few places where the company who offers a stable and reliable internet connection is the only gig in town, and with the Internet becoming almost as necessary as telephone, television, the local library, and the post office all in one, we need to prevent abuse. Any company that has stockholders to answer to will gladly screw over their own customers in a devious way if it means a few extra points on their shares.

I’m thankful for a democratic system of representation. It’s no where near perfect, but it’s better than most. The mayor of the town I live in will be sworn in tonight and he won by less than 100 votes. Knowing your vote counts is a good feeling.

In my lifetime I’d like to see more rules on political donations, lobbyists, and campaign transparency. It’s nice that we have a 2 party system when some countries still have 1 party or a dictatorship. It’s a shame the majority of both those parties are more or less owned by their corporate masters. William Gibson has written quite a few books about a dystopian future where corporations are the most powerful things on the planet and governments are more or less puppets of them, and the common man suffers. What he writes is fiction, but that concept is not. Every day lives are ended because someone cut corners because someone told them money needed to be saved. We’re almost at 2010, we should be growing more away from capital greed and more toward racial enlightenment. Do you really think Joe Lieberman is against a public health care option because of personal convictions? He’s listed as an independent, but he really should be the Etna senator.

Finally, I’m thankful I’m still employed. I have a degree in music and I’ve been lucky enough to have a job in computers that is reasonably interesting and fairly stable. My spouse has been out of work for a while and while things are tight, we’re not struggling nearly as bad as many.

In my lifetime I’d like to see this country get serious about infrastructure replacement and rebuilding. It would be expensive, yes, but it needs to be done. The I-35 bridge collapse is probably the most glaring example of infrastructure failure at the cost of lives, but it’s certainly not the only one. There are many other bridges, tunnels, roadways, etc across the country that are in even worse shape and just waiting to fail. Each one of those is also an opportunity to put people to work. Yes, it costs money to do so, but do we really need another stealth bomber or another year fighting a war on drugs that is unwinnable?

Regardless of if you agree or disagree with anything I said, may you and the people you hold dear find peace and happiness this holiday season.

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