2008-01-11 / Columnists

The Progressive

Thoughts For The New Year
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

At this time of the year, we should be thinking of the pleasant memories of childhood and the magical promises of the season. Miracles, it is believed, happen as we feast and enjoy the benefits of a consumer society. Often, we forget that civility is necessary for civilized life when we shop and travel. Stress increases when we should be having fun. Toys and electronic products that dazzled our senses need assembly, batteries, and do not deliver the promised bliss. Clothes are not the right size. Lovers disappoint when they do not bring a ring to the holiday celebration. Children are cranky and restless. Our images of sugarplums, bright lights, and parties' do not fascinate they annoy!

Political discourse often brings out the best and worst of the human condition similar to the holiday season. Why? My answer is that all of us want what is best for America but forget to truly listen. Too often political careers are built on expediency, unnecessary and dangerous compromises, and false displays of patriotism. Our leaders both Republican and Democratic are guilty of allowing an ill conceived, immoral but profitable for many, war to commence and develop because of false and misleading intelligence information. Most of us know now that Bush and his evil cohorts were preparing to attack Iraq before September 11th in 2001. There were no weapons of mass destruction. While we spent billions on intelligence, we still did not have the capacity to obtain critical information as to weapons of mass destruction in a country that we had been monitoring for years. As a result of this failure the world is now a more dangerous place and our nation faces a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to our leadership.

It is now time for all elected officials of both parties to do what is demanded of people of integrity in times of crisis and that is to abandon self-interest and do what may be unpopular.

It is now appropriate for an investigation of all actions of the present administration to be put under a microscope. Are our borders secured? Is our policy regarding Pakistan tenable? Is unrestricted illegal immigration dangerous? Can we admit immigrants in an orderly humane manner? Is demanding a two state solution to the Israel- Palestinian conflict viable? Can peace be obtained without all parties to the conflict at the negotiations? Is Israel in violation of UN resolutions and should she be held accountable if that nation is? Can moderate Arabs be helped without making them less effective voices? Should our society allow Israel to have nuclear weapon capability and not allow countries that are hostile to her? Is our policy regarding Iran viable? Why are we allowing India to have nuclear capability? Why does this nation think we can decide which nations can have nuclear capability? How do we regulate scientific information for the entire world? How should Pakistan be helped in becoming a democracy?

These issues and other issues deserve serious civil and rational discourse by leaders of both parties. Most presidential candidates are avoiding serious debate on these issues. Their use of non-issues is appalling. What do the candidates for chief executive discuss?

Their discussion includes probable political dynasties, political ambition, confederate flags, biblical interpretations, evolution, and church affiliation. We do not need sound bites, political pandering, or bumper sticker patriotism at this time. Unfortunately, we can expect politics as usual in 2008.

This nation needs to do a political examination of our futile attempt to shape the world into middle class sensible shoe wearing democracy advocates. Our nation needs to be concerned with the improvement of the nation's immediate social and economic issues. At the same time, our relations with other nations should be based on mutually beneficial relations. We cannot walk away from the world and we cannot dominate the world. America's security should be based on trust and respect and not on water boarding and fear at the barrel of a gun. The holiday season loses its luster. Extreme nationalism and violence loses its allure especially when it brings only tears to many and debt to this nation.

Recently, the leader of the worldwide Anglican community the Archbishop of Canterbury criticized the immoral aspects of our foreign policy. Pope Benedict XVI in Rome has also made similar comments. These men are not Islamic extremists and are also critical of Islamic extremists. Morality cannot only be a virtue. It can also be strength when the conflict is of ideas and values. America must become that city on the hill again.

Our holiday season should become a time of reflection and a call for morality and ethical behavior in our relations both within our nation and overseas.

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, Holy New Year!

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