Once again tax day has come and gone. The day when we dig into out pockets and pay Uncle Sam what he is owed is over for another year. Whew!
While no one likes to pay taxes, my grandfather always said, “if you don’t make any money, you don’t have to pay any taxes”. That is not to imply that paying taxes should be considered a reward for earning a living, but it is a down payment on living in this country, and most others as well. The privileges and benefits we take for granted are not free, but paying for them insures our freedom and way of life.
Just as we must have a strong defense, we also need to have compassion toward those who are not as fortunate as others. We cannot spend huge sums of money on weapons and fail to take care of our military, which keeps us safe. We cannot subsidize corporations and deny food stamps and other basic necessities of life to the truly needy. We continue to spend billions on prisons, but cut education funding, which trains people to work in legitimate jobs, rather than engaging in criminal activity.
The quality of each life is dependant on the quality of society as a whole. If there is systemic suffering imposed by the “haves” on the “have nots” we all suffer. The Washington talking heads rail about America losing the respect of the rest of the world. But how can others respect us if we do not even respect our citizens, especially those with whom we disagree?
It is time for change! It’s time for America to care for its citizens – all of its citizens. It is time for us to have a dialogue on what it really means to be an American. It is time to listen to each other with respect, and not reflexively reverting to the party line. It is time to have the guts to stand up for what you think is right, whether or not we agree. It is time, America, it is time!
The time to punish the majority of Americans to benefit a tiny minority of individuals and corporations that believe it is their right to construct policies that benefit them and to ignore the greater good is over. It is time for a more compassionate and tolerant America; an America that values its citizens and not only the almighty dollar.
By next tax day, let’s refocus our national attention on becoming an America of inclusion, compassion and tolerance, not one where the national motto is “he who has the most, wins”. And let’s do less talking and more listening. You never know what you might learn from someone else.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act, what would you do to make the “Great Society” greater?