I am reading Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, and I must say the book is heartbreaking. As I read about so many gifted characters in the book who face the oppression of a regime that forgot about the beauty and strength of individuals' dreams, passions, and promise as well as the inspiration and beauty of the arts, architecture, and what we can do as a people when we acknowledge, support, and collaborate around individual strengths and traits, I am greatly saddened and filled with worry. I don't want this time to be replicated in my life or the lives of my children or grandchildren--I want people to live with the freedom to be who they are and live as they desire to live as long as they don't harm or hurt others.
As we live in a time with an insensitive bully-president in the United States, I worry about the hate he incites, prejudice he supports with unfair and unjust policies, and the lack of support he provides for institutions like public education, health care, social services, national parks, and environmental protections that have the potential to make life better for all. Instead it appears that this president serves self and rich cronies over the needs and interests of all Americans. This is a president who is also willing to sacrifice our clean air, clean water, clean soil, beautiful lands, other natural resources, and promising global partnerships for the wealth of a few and short-term gains. He is a president, who with his passive and self serving #GOP cronies, is willing to choose personal wealth and triumph, over the long term health and prosperity of our country.
Reading the book and thinking about the current reality in the United States makes me worried. I am worried that we will return to a time like the desperate time depicted in the story I am reading or a time that many have faced throughout the world and even in the United States in the past--a time when some people were unfairly and unjustly violated or killed rather than allowed to live the good lives they desired. Already our president's passive stance on needed funding, supports, policies, and protocols that can uplift life is standing in the way of good living for so many. As a teacher, his lack of interest or support for public schools is frightening. Everyday I see so much opportunity to do better by families and children, and while I work in a well-supported school system, I am still witness to how a good number of children and families are blocked from services that could elevate and positively change their lives. I hear stories from my friends who work in more compromised systems which further heightens my awareness of the fact that we are not doing what we can do to better lives of children and families--we are not putting into place helpful supports like affordable and accessible child care, health services, recreation, nutritious food, welcoming homes, safe communities, and counseling--supports that have the potential to transform lives.
We cannot allow world leaders anywhere to squander lives by denying some of the basic needs, health care, education, safety, and clean planet they deserve--all people have a right to live good, free lives where they can pursue happiness and live well. We have to work for this dream together and not support those short-sighted, self-serving, greedy, narrow-minded people in our midst who desire to lead for self over others. Instead we have to support leaders who have a vision for good living for all--a vision that looks for ways to uplift all people and build strong, vital, free communities with healthy natural resources, beautiful land and waterways, access to quality health care and education, nutritious foods, awesome recreation, inspiring arts, and more--we can build these kinds of communities all over the country and world with the right supports. That's a vision that spells good living for all, and a vision that contrasts the narrow scope of so many leaders today, leaders working for short-term, self-serving goals that have frightening long-term results, results that limit life rather than enriching it. We can do better.