Original Post (with comments)
This country is still very much divided, unnecessarily so. Yes, there are issues about which many people disagree, and there are worthwhile opinions to be found on both sides of the divide, but the fact is that most of the fuss is manufactured by politicians who have everything to gain by pitting one side against another. Given that the political philosophies that once underpinned the Democratic and Republican parties have long since been extinct, it seems that the team mentality is driving the bus nowadays. So with roughly half the masses in Democrat jerseys and the other half in Republican jerseys, the stage is set. The politicians appeal to each team’s desire to win, to their desire to vanquish their evil competitor, and they do so by creating the appearance that, if they lose, America goes down the drain. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Bush is ruining America!” or “The liberals are out to destroy everything this country stands for!” People, it’s time for a reality check. What follows is an email report from a guy serving in the Peace Corps in Togo (West Africa), which has been in the midst of some serious political upheaval.
Subject: A Brief Hello & Update From Togo
Hope all is well back home in The Good (According to many these days, The Big Bad) Old US of A.. While briefly in Lome I wanted to take the time to let you all know how’s it going here.
Good news is things are relatively calm in Lome and especially throughout the country and other than a couple opposition rallies which took place past resulting in some people killed (In Lome) by the government supported military things are honestly quite safe. I’ve been back in village these past weeks continuing my work which is going very well and it’s not too surprisingly one of the safest places to be as politics don’t reach so far out as the rural bush (Not many politicians could stand a dusty and bumpy ride out to a place with no electricity and without the modern comforts). Most of the villagers can’t read Ewe or French and haven’t even got an elementary level education so the inter workings of politics are somewhat out of thought for them on many levels. What’s on our minds today? What’s going on in the Capital or what my family will eat and whether the crop is growing well to sustain us throughout the rest of the year. Answer # 2 would be more correct. This is not to say that many, especially the men, in village aren’t having a wonderful time discussing their hopes for the future with what’s recently happened.
The death of Eyadema and his 38 years of justiceless rule can make for change and a chance at democracy for these people. It is for sure a very interesting time to be in Togo and I’m learning quite a bit about African politics. Much I’m seeing and learning of these politics is very very sad and very well hidden from the outside world. One shocking thing is that Eyadema was a good friend of the French President Chirac and he has also contributed large amounts of money (Togolese money and wealth) to support Chirac’s election campaigns in France. A developed nation President taking money from a poor small country such as Togo! The last thing money should be doing is leaving this country. I am truly convinced that France continues to help destroy this country rather than help rebuild it and this is quite a sad reality. Our World Needs Way Better Leaders! I’ll have more to say on this whole thing in my next official update to you all, so stay tuned.
One thing I can propose to you in the meantime is to take the time to open your eyes and seek out to inform yourselves about what goes on around you in this world especially outside the USA (With the wide existence of the internet today this is so much easier to do). Make an effort to know what’s happening to people. The injustices and inhumanities are mindblowing and most often the world hardly ever notices! It’s quite sickening.
Take good care of yourselves and again thanks to all sending me their well wishes, love, and support. It’s great to have. Hope you enjoy the photos.
Peace Be With You,
Folks, I have a truly hard time mounting anything close to outrage about anything domestic when I read things like this. We have come so far in the US that we have completely lost perspective on what life can be like, and is for many, many people on this planet. If we could just take a step back and reflect upon how good we have it, I think we could find a way to let go of some of the team mentality. Like Chirac in the email above, our politicians are doing dispicable things in the name of leadership, and we, instead of calling them on it, brush their actions aside because the alternative is unthinkable – our team might take a beating in the next election.
After 9-11, we came together as a nation. We remembered what it really means to be an American – to live in a land where people are free to live as they choose, to live in a land where prosperity is the norm, not the exception, to live in a land where the rule of law is a given, where there is equality of opportunity the likes of which this planet has never seen. This happened because an event transpired that forced us to turn our attention away from domestic in-fighting and toward an enemy whose greatest goal is the demise of our republic. Granted, the unity was only a tad longer than the blink of an eye, but it happened, and I hope I am not being too idealistic in hoping it could happen again, but under less devastating circumstances.
As I have said before – there are two teams in this country, but they are not the Republicans and the Democrats. They are the weasels serving, nay plundering, as politicians and us, the people who are being stirred into a frenzy to take the focus off their nefarious activities. The time has come to put aside the differences that are so largely cosmetic and come to realization that Joe Lunchbucket and Jan Q. Public really aren’t that different from one another. Both want the best for their children, both hate the thought of people who are down and out, and both would rather leave politics to people with the time and inclination to do their homework. Of course, there are issues about which they will differ greatly, but those, in my view, are beside the point. Until those who represent us locally and in DC deserve the title of “civil servant,” our efforts should be aimed at replacing them.
Now I’ve been around long enough to know that what I wish for is about as likely as free elections in Iraq. Okay, bad example. As likely as a Red Sox world series. Damn. Missed again. Anyway, I can’t help but believe that it is possible to overcome the team mentality if enough opinion-makers take up the fight. It all comes down to perspective – whether gays can marry or not, there will still be enough to eat. As Thomas says, we need to open our eyes to see what’s going on around us. We need only be mindful of how good we have it to put aside the pettiness and get started on a project to take America back to the days when political disputes were in the hands of the informed, to when, liberal or conservative, being American was the most important thing . You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.