Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Where is the Outrage?

The most wonderful thing happened today. Karen Sullivan called to say she was in NY. Karen and her husband Paul have been my friends for at least 100 years. We met during the McGovern campaign. They were field operatives and I was part of the advance team. Usually the twain doesn’t meet – but not in this case. I met Paul when I invaded some state, (that’s what advance people used to do when they had brains and decision making power and no cell phones – unlike today when all they need is a checklist because they never make political decisions), in which he was the field director. It was hate at first site, which had nothing to do with us as personally, it’s just Field and Advance people are never supposed to get along. After a few intense nose to nose moments about who was in charge, we both started to laugh and decided we were too much alike and simply too adorable to be enemies. I met Karen soon after and every four years since 1972, we worked together in Presidential politics. They would travel from their gorgeous home in Hawaii to work in some campaign hovel (for months or years at a time), and there they would stay until after the election. Every four years we would find one another and figure out some crazy scheme for the campaign… something that would make us laugh regardless of the political situation. Anyway, I adore Karen and Paul and we have remained dearest friends despite the passage of time, but when I see them it always takes me back to a different, better time.

Which brings me to the point of this blob. Here’s what I don’t get …. Where are the kids who should be on the street protesting about all the things that will have an impact on their lives. Aren’t they tired of being lied to by corporations who are killing the environment, people with disposable income, who have destroyed the economy, and yes, even their own government… but I’m not going there today. Maybe protesting cannot begin to address the lasting effects of the BP spill. It’s not easy to understand why (given their record of cost savings over safety,) anyone believed BP when they said “a drilling accident like the one that happened can never happen.” Or when they minimized the number of gallons that leaked into the Gulf , or they are denying that there are pools of water resting underneath what they intend to do when the oil works it’s way to New Jersey and maybe all the way to Maine. And what happens when and if there is, God forbid, a hurricane.

Sure there are protests about the role the World Bank plays in perpetrating the economic conditions of the third world, but there are always too many lunatics and too many messages. Those protesters haven’t learned what we learned about how to remedy social injustice and seeing through the lies. At protests today, everyone is lumped together. Whether the issue is about the environment, gay rights, breast cancer, or the economy – every leader of every organization has to have their say. There is no unity and no focus about one issue at a time. And so it’s easy to dismiss protests as minimal and to which no one, (who can make a difference) should pay attention.

It’s no longer about moral core or good products. It’s about the best way to sell bad products to an unsuspecting consumer. Take BP, for example, what we do know is that once again, a corporation is spending more time and money on public relations than figuring out how to tell the truth. Their commercials on the air are all about how concerned that are, and how they know it is their obligation to inform the public about the crisis. Bull Doody! Their obligation is to correct the disaster and spend the money necessary to clean up their mess. They are never going to tell us the truth, but if they didn’t pay dividends to their shareholders, or took cuts in their corporate salaries, at least that would be a legitimate action. It would say, "I am not going to benefit while there are people whose lives and business we have ruined." We want to remain the oil company with a “green” heart so we will do whatever is necessary to clean up the mess and put lives back together.

And where is the government of the people by the people and for the people? The President says it’s not his job to yell at the oil companies, or the insurance companies, or the banks. It is his job to try to figure out how to deal with the situation. Maybe not but I disagree. It is his job to demonstrate real concern and to lead. That’s not a walk on an oil ruined beach, or an evening with celebrities at the White House. But no one can teach someone to lead or to be honestly outraged. We expected more involvement from Obama, the community organizer. But didn’t we expect a more emotional answer than, “there are better ways than the death penalty if my wife were raped and murdered” from Presidential candidate Dukakis. We wanted to know he would care – he would rip out the sucker's heart.

Which brings me back to the Sullivans. They spent a lifetime working and advocating for causes and political leaders who would make a positive difference in the lives of our children and their children. We were noisy and we were united. We actually believed that somewhere out there, was such a leader. Maybe there is, but it is disappointing that it just hasn’t happened yet. We;re just sayin'....Iris

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