Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Our nation seems to be seriously adrift, and our chosen governmental leaders are proving to be inadequate to the task of correcting the downward course it has been on in recent years. A senior Air Force Intelligence Officer, in commenting on the two government-employed psychologists who created and oversaw the interrogation program of suspected al Qaeda terrorists, a program since labeled as illegal torture, stated very perceptively, "somewhere along the way they lost sight of their moral compass". That statement could well be applied to much of what has transpired within the political, economic, and diplomatic leadership and direction of the United States within the past 35 years. The results are all too obvious.  Endless wars in the Middle East, with resentment, hatred, and hostility against the US, its policies, and its allies only growing as a result of our actions. The UN and many of its member nations  diverting from US positions and attempting to take the lead in movements directed towards development, peace, and human right, a role we previously held but have seemed to abdicate. Our overpowering military dominance leading us to rely on military solutions, war as an early option, rather than as a final resort when other means fail, in situations when confronted with foreign conflict. Our domestic economic policies clearly favoring the wealthy since the onset of "Reaganomics", resulting in a major shrinkage in the size and well-being of our middle class, and the greatest rapid increase in wealth inequity and disparity in our history.  A major lessening in long-established corporation and financial institution regulations, setting up the economic collapse of 2008, from which only the wealthy and Wall Street corporations have fully recovered.  Political gridlock and stalemate blocking needed corrective action on numerous key issues, with Washington DC seemingly controlled by the most powerful moneyed groups, with their needs and demands trumping those of the population at large. The prime arbiter of justice in our land, the Supreme Court, clearly favoring the rights of vested interests and the wealthy, as in the Citizens United case, and even arbitrarily deciding a close presidential election, actions which set a precedent for lower legal officials to be biased and prejudicial in their determination of "justice". Voting rights being threatened and restricted in many states by local election boards, with policies becoming controlled by factions who can gain by limiting ready voting to those who tend to support their positions, rather than facilitating voting by all eligible voters. Fewer available societal resources, paired with increased societal and financial stresses, leading to more domestic violence, crime, and mental breakdown. Increased poverty, including among our military veterans, leading to a multiplying of those homeless, and an absence of available resources to assist them in regaining their feet.  The list could go on, the downward cycle we are on seems far too apparent, with no relief in sight.

While many are aware of these painful realities, and much has been written concerning them, little has been done to reverse the trends.  Where is the "exceptionalism",  the land of fair play, equal rights, justice? Our system has always had faults, but even our pretense of "doing the right thing" seems diminished. What has happened to our "moral compass"? Obama came in with hope and promises, but has not been able to achieve his desired ends, and has often capitulated to old economic policies, military solutions, and expectations that his political opponents will somehow relent and agree to reasonable compromise, which they typically have failed to do. Most elected officials are so dependent on their major political donors that they are beholden to vested interests, not the interests of the majority of citizens. People can march in the streets, write letters, cheer the few truly independent national politicians like Bernie Stevens and Elizabeth Warren, but their causes are blocked by the power structure in Wash. DC on the major political and economic issues of the day. Success has been achieved on some significant social and domestic human rights issues, and these are to be applauded, and can be taken as a forerunner of what can be achieved through concerted, collective assertion of people power.  But the downward trend, the absence of a "moral compass" that activates the majority of our citizens to demand far better from our elected leaders is all too evident, the casualties are far too frequent and tragic. The course must be reversed, but will the momentum and the leadership somehow arise?  Our future, and the future we leave to our inheritors, depends on the answer.