By Norma Sherry
you better off now than you were four years ago? Do you feel
safer? Is your job more secure or are you among the more than
three million workers without a job and without any hope of
a job? Have you lost your pension or 401K due to corporate
Do you have a nest egg saved for emergencies or are you
one mortgage payment away from losing it all? Or are you one
of the nearly two million Americans who filed for personal
bankruptcy last year? Are your children getting the finest
education your taxes paid for or will they become one of the
50 million adults considered functionally illiterate?
Are you among the top percentage of wealthy Americans' who
benefited from President Bush's tax relief or are you the
remaining majority just scraping by? Or do you fall into the
Federal Reserve Board's 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances that
indicates that nearly 10 million households (or 9.2% of Americans)
do not have a bank account of any kind? Or perhaps you are
one of the 32% of families that earn less than $15,000 a year.
Are you counted among the one-quarter of the United States
population, perhaps, who, if you had to live only on your
net worth, savings, home equity, and other assets, would survive
at the poverty level for only three months? Or worse yet,
if only your liquid assets were considered, your poverty rate
would jump to nearly 40 percent. (1)
Do you have health insurance for you and your family or
are you among the 42 million Americans who can't afford medical
insurance? Are you a senior citizen, a disabled individual,
or anyone living on a fixed income who can't afford to both
eat and buy your prescribed medications?
Are you one of the hundreds of thousands of families that
run out of money before the month runs out and has nothing
left to feed the children? Is your child among the 28 million
American children that go to bed hungry, or malnourished,
or downright starving? Are you a working mother who can't
afford child care? Are you a two-parent working family and
yet you still can't make ends meet?
Are you one of the ex-employees of Enron, or Worldcom who
lost your entire savings with no hope of any financial recompense?
Are you one of the investors in the now defunct, overrated
dotcoms? Perhaps you're one of the more lucky citizens who
actually have money to invest; are you earning a whopping
two or three percent on your CD? Is it locked up at that handsome
rate for ten years?
Do you feel safe with the state of our meat? Are you relieved
to know that your children are only ingesting safe levels
of pesticides and antibiotics in their fruits and vegetables?
Are you contented to know that if your child were to contract
pneumonia or rubella or spinal meningitis there's a high probability
that there won't be an antibiotic that your child hasn't become
insensitive to, rendering it useless?
Are you confident that your water is safe? Are you okay
that toxic wastes by corporations are spilling into our water
and poisoning our earth without any fear of penalty? Are you
confident you will have money to live out your old-age in
dignity? Are you comfortable with the likelihood that you
won't be able to afford to retire at sixty-five?
Are you confident you'll be hired at sixty-five, and if
so, to do what and for how much? Are you sure you'll be well
enough, strong enough, energetic enough to do so? Are you
comfortable that all the monies you've paid into social security
will be there for you when it's your time to avail yourself
Are you able to keep up with your rising home insurance
premiums, property taxes, employment taxes, and college tuition?
Do you see any signs of relief from your elected representatives
or your president?
Do you think it is the job of your president, your representatives,
to make sure that your best interests are put before all else?
Does spending billions of dollars a day to rebuild Iraq to
its pre-attack state sit well with you? Are you at all concerned
that these billions of dollars could be bettering the lives
of American citizens - easing your burdens?
Is it okay with you that our president and his entire cabinet
lied to us about Saddam Hussein and his Weapons of Mass Destruction?
What are we teaching our children - to lie is okay? Not
so long ago we had a president that lied about his sexual
escapades. An audible gasp ensued and his honor was destroyed.
He looked into the camera and lied to our faces. His reputation
was forever tarnished and impeachment hearings resulted.
Yet, now we have a president that not only lied to us, but
in so doing put us all in harms way. His lies sent our children,
our fathers and sons and daughters to war – some never to
return. On a lie built on a lie we are now spending billions
of dollars a month to rebuild a nation we had no need to destroy.
It is estimated that we will spend upwards of $200 billion
before we're done.
Do you remember when we were told that post-war Iraq "Will
not require sustained aid?" Or when the president's top
reconstruction official at the State Department assured us,
"The American part of [reconstruction] will be $1.7 billion
and we have no plans for further-on funding of this"?
I don't know about you, but it makes me yearn for the days
when the object of the presidential shaft was not the country
at large, but a starry-eyed intern.
We are all in this together. Together we can make a difference.
It's time, my fellow Americans - for time is running out.
These are the days that history will record as either the
turning point when the populace stood up and made a conscientious
decision to take back their country - or that they dropped
the ball and allowed themselves to be led down the path of
We need to change the tide of the abuses and the lies here,
at home, as well as, how we are seen through the eyes of the
world. We have much to make up for and we have many fences
to repair. Regrettably, we are not the great emancipators;
we are not the envy of the world, nor is it our way of life
and our love of freedom that our enemies detest. Our history
is quite to the contrary.
It is not always easy to go deep inside and see who we really
are, but if we don't remove our rose-colored glasses, our
click-your-heels-I'm-back-in-Kansas mentality, we are destined
to repeat our sordid history. It is time for all citizens
who love their country, who detest totalitarianism, who truly
want to be the model for humanity to step up to the plate
and become active participants in their democracy.
We're going to have to be willing to amend and mend our
ways. Otherwise, how are we to be trusted in a world that
has witnessed our lies - not just now in Iraq - but in Viet
Nam, in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, in Rwanda, in Iran, in Iraq
in years past? Our history, as a nation, does not always bode
well. Too often we ignored the covert and overt actions of
our country; the overthrowing of democratically-elected leaders
to orchestrate the control of a corrupt puppet government.
We have too long turned a deaf ear and a blind eye. Our
leaders have betrayed our innocence, our gullibility, our
willingness to accept what we're told. We can no longer feign
ignorance. Not knowing is no longer an option. It is time
that we enacted our citizenship and acted upon it with meaningfulness.
We can no longer willingly be 'good little children.' It's
time to stand up, stand tall, and speak out loud and let every
voice be heard. We must face our wrongdoings and we must make
up for the atrocities that have been allowed and ignored in
our name. We need to take back our country.
We need to open our minds and put aside our individual preconceived
notions. We need to read our history - not that of our history
books, but that which is readily available. We need to take
our heads out of the sand and examine who we are; we need
to be willing to see the naked truth that will surely stare
back at us.
We need to want peace more than war. We need to want to
be true liberators, not oppressors. We need to want to help
our fellow humankind, not lord over them. We need to learn
humility and the true defining of justice and halt our sense
of undeserved superiority. We have to acknowledge our role
as a nation as a purveyor of violence, as a collaborator in
injustices and brutal regimes, as a military strong-arm holding
the world at ransom, as a selfish, gloating preeminence of
extreme wealth and gluttony.
These are harsh words I know and many of my fellow citizens
will balk and resort to calling me names: unpatriotic, traitor.
For some, you will deem me a vile un-American. There will
be some of you who will write me and tell me "to leave
if you're not happy." But I say, it is precisely because
I do love my country and my fellow Americans that my heart
aches; that my eyes burn from the onslaught of tears from
the truths I've come to learn.
It is from all I've come to know as true that I beg each
and every one of you who graces these words with your eyes
to take them to heart - to examine the truth for yourselves.
It is out there pleading and imploring you to seek it for
yourselves. Then, dear fellow Americans, we need to start
exercising our rights as citizens of this rich, lush country
of ours. We need to begin by voting.
Your vote, our votes, can bring about a revolution of change.
We began this war; it is up to us to put an end to the deaths,
to the fighting. If we do not, "…The image of America will
never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy,
but the image of violence and militarism." (2)
We must raise every man, woman, and child to a life of dignity,
of safety, of comfort, security, warmth, and end the pangs
of hunger that growl in the stomachs of the hungry. No longer
can we ignore the well-being of others. Or as Dr. Martin Luther
King so eloquently prophesied, "A nation that continues year
after year to spend more money on military defense than on
programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Every American citizen must help to energize and educate
their fellow man, woman, and child. Ignorance, dear friends,
is not bliss. "If we do not act we shall surely be dragged
down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved
for those who possess power without compassion, might without
morality, and strength without sight." (3)
Norma Sherry is co-founder of Together Forever Changing, an
organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting
personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing
civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer
and host of upcoming television program, The Norma Sherry
Show. Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Haveman, R. & Wolff, E. (2001). Who are the Asset Poor?
Levels, Trends, and Composition
2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
3. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967