There Goes the Ruddy Two-shoes

I Answer Not in Silence

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on November 9, 2008

You can call this a serious riposte to the throng of heartbreakingly ill-informed human beings who have challenged not only my political orientation but also the stances I have taken on social issues and the statements I have dared express to this date. And, yes, if anyone wants to engage in a debate with me after reading this piece, I will be delighted to speak with you, on the condition that my time does not go wasted on listening to ridiculously uneducated opinions. I may not be so gracious when pushed to impatience.

I sail to the left, and I do not apologize. Call me “anti-American”, a nutjob, a heretic, a fetus-murderer, or any name that has been used to refer to somebody like, say, Dennis Kucinich or the new president-elect, Barack Obama, although I honestly do not see him so much as a leftist. With the exception of your labeling me “anti-American” – which I certainly, absolutely, definitely am not – I will answer you with the proudest smile I can muster. When I found the courage to step outside the doctrines they utilized to confine me in fear, I found liberation – and goshdarnit, I am not ashamed.

I stand behind irreligion, abortion, same-sex marriage, and guaranteeing undocumented immigrants a path to legalization, for they have come in an attempt to subsist since American corporations shat over their lands and stole their sources of decent income. And as if I am not scaring the golden wingnut enough, I like universal healthcare – one great concept for which I am willing to pay higher taxes. They take hundreds of dollars off my monthly salary to insure myself and my husband anyway, and only partially, for if one of us gets sick, we will have to go out of pocket for copays, deductibles, or other expenses the insurance carrier simply decides to not pay. I refer you to Michael Moore’s Sicko for more information.

The United States can very well afford to socialize healthcare. There is wealth in this country, albeit wrongly disseminated, and George W. Bush has chosen to prove that over and over by allocating trillions of dollars to the Pentagon and the unjust wars he made a unilateral decision to fight. It has been apparent that this man and his cronies believe the United States must have the money to bomb homes in the Middle East and none for the health of its people.

And not just the health of its people. In this country, we can observe the deterioration of the quality of education provided to our children, the growth of poverty rates, and the increasing severity of homelessness. Bush gave his warmongering a fat budget, while he left the needs of his fellow citizens unmet. Do you not find that bothersome? I do.

I will talk about Iraq. In spite of its apparent demise in the agendas of the mainstream media, the Iraq war merits serious discussion. It always has and always will, and I am not saying that just because I am married to an Iraq war veteran, but more importantly, because (1) I was lied to by a president who wanted a reckless killing spree so he could bagsie some oil; (2) countless lives – Iraqis and Americans both – have been destroyed by this nonsensical bloodbath; and (3) as I have implied, the dollars frittered on obliterating a small country in the Middle East could and should have been put to much better use, such as healthcare for all.

I am not alone in my sentiments. If you constantly endeavor to keep your head out of the sand, you must have seen and/or heard about various demonstrations in protest against the current administration’s blatant terrorism. Yes, I did say terrorism.

Certain things I would rather not disclose at this time hinder me – or at least I feel that they do – from being as active in the sociopolitical arena as I would like to be. Most times, I have had to settle on being curled up in bed reading activist literature, or expending my energy in the blogosphere, rummaging through alternative media blogs and composing my own whenever I feel compelled to do so. However, from time to time, I have deemed it proper to manifest my concern for certain issues in louder, more obvious ways, including spirited yet intelligent discussions with persons who may have differed in their opinions and, more notably, joining activist groups like the Iraq Veterans Against the War, International Socialist Organization, and Bayan USA, to name a few, in exercising the freedom to demonstrate, both vocally and visually, and through peaceful means, opposition to Bush’s bellicose foreign policy and transparent unconcern for the good of his countrymen. The concoction of poignant banners, picket signs, slogan shirts, chants, and revolutionary music signifying the workings of true democracy – it is empowering, and I take great pride in being a part of it.

I care. I have a moral obligation to contribute to the alleviation of pain and suffering not only in the United States or the Philippines, my homeland, but the entire blue-green orb into which my mother brought me twenty-five years ago. Upon discovering the power I hold to change the world, I resolved to unstuck my keester from the couch in front of the television and collaborate with those who have made the same important discovery. I do intend to continue on this path and do much more, as soon as certain things, which, again, I would rather not disclose, are out of the picture.

Note that I am not saying that carrying anti-war posters while marching through Los Angeles by itself changes the world. One may have to go beyond that to effect change, but that does not make it at all trivial. Pages and pages of history books substantiate the weight of uprisings, no matter how small, all over the world. There was a time in American history when civil rights were a prerogative of white people, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was one to give that a huge fight. Following the apprehension of a black fifteen-year-old girl who refused to give up her bus seat for a white person, King headed the lengthy Montgomery Bus Boycott, which caused him to be arrested. His arrest then led to a court ruling that ended racial segregation in buses. He went on to pilot and influence numerous marches and rallies during the civil rights movement up to the day of his assassination.

It has been decades since King, along with masses of bold men and women who stood up against racial chauvinism, started fighting for change, and a lot of their efforts have come to fruition. For instance, school segregation was barred by the Supreme Court in 1957, and the banning of interracial marriages was ruled unconstitutional ten years later. A few days ago, America, for the very first time, bestowed the presidency upon a mulatto, born of a black father from Kenya, to show an intense thawing out of walls of racial bigotry in the “land of equal opportunity.” Foreign lands benefited from the civil rights movement as well, including South Africa, which saw the death of the apartheid system in 1991 –inspired by the civil rights movement in the United States. These are some of the finest moments in history, and they would not have been possible without the struggles of King and other civil rights activists who joined him in his revolt.

By belittling the power of protest, one belittles Martin Luther King, Jr. and other pioneers of the civil rights movement. By belittling the power of protest, one belittles Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, Harvey Milk, Thich Nhat Hanh, John Lennon, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, Subcomandante Marcos and the EZLN, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Victor Jara, those who gathered in the streets of Seattle during the WTO convention in 1999 to show their dissent against vile globalization that pains the world’s poor, feminists around the world who fought for women’s suffrage, Filipinos who flocked to EDSA in 1986 and 2001 to exercise their democratic power to overthrow administrations that did not serve their needs, labor activists and unionists who struggle to protect workers’ rights all over the world, Californians who are currently rallying in opposition to the passing of a proposition prohibiting same-sex marriages, and all those who fought, all those who are fighting, to protect your, my, OUR civil liberties.

I hear this from time to time: “If you want to change the world, feed the poor.” I will respond to this by saying that as an individual of middle-class stature, and one who is likely to stay within the middle-class ranks for the rest of time, in the United States, I do not and never will have the right amount of funds to feed every single one of the billions of impoverished people in the world. And you know what? I am not the only one facing such obstruction. I can do as much as adopting a destitute who begs for alms at the foot of a Los Angeles freeway off-ramp, supporting him all throughout the period of time that he would need to be financially dependent on me, and assisting him in finding employment so that he can stand on his own feet. I commend anyone who has shown tremendous kindness and compassion in this way, and I have no doubt that something like this can well improve a life. However, how much change can this really effect? You adopt one indigent person, and how much more poverty remains all over the world?

Much, much more. In the large scheme of things, my adopting one underprivileged person may even go unnoticed. Poverty is attached to a rotten system that not only allows the dispossessing of its people but thrives at the expense of those who are enfeebled. You can try to feed two, five, ten, even twenty poor persons today to temporarily satiate their hunger, but the food you donate will not take them over the poverty line. Immediately afterwards, they will go back to the projects or wherever else they live, continue working their jobs that do not even pay living wages, and pass down their poverty to their children, who they cannot afford to send to school. They are imprisoned in a social structure that does not provide them with a real, solid foundation for advancement.

And it is this very system that I confront, whenever I express my disapproval of the war in Iraq through my literature, banners, and picket signs – the same exact social structure that I blame for poverty, homelessness, insufficient education, the crucial lack of an ethical and moral healthcare system, a defective penal system, and undocumented immigration. It is a system that prioritizes the wealthy and overlooks the poor, a system that capitalizes on the financial hardships of our young men and women – coerced to join the armed forces to help their families get by – their bodies, blood, and sweat are abused to secure global domination that nourishes only the upper class, while their medical treatment privileges are diminished so that they do not receive adequate care if they come home with limbs impaired and/or suicidal tendencies stemming from post-traumatic stress disorders. It is a system that needs uprooting for real, complete change to occur, and in this, the role of collective activism, no matter how small it appears, is indispensable.

The late, great Ralph Waldo Emerson speaks to those who, despite unequivocal human rights violations, choose to keep silent:

You think that your silence on certain topics, perhaps in the face of injustice, or unkindness, or mean-spiritedness, causes others to reserve judgement of you. Far otherwise; your silence utters very loud: you have no oracle to speak, no wisdom to offer, and your fellow men have learned that you cannot help them. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? We would be well to do likewise.

I did. I stood up, spoke out, and got counted – a colossal accomplishment compared to that of anyone who decided to linger in front of the television screen watching ESPN or some other source of mindless entertainment because he or she thought of such activism as futile.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to reading your comments, especially those that should serve the purpose of expressing disagreement.

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5 Responses to “I Answer Not in Silence”

  1. You forgot Fidel Castro!! lol.. Well written MRs. Fisher!!! intelihente! THere are a lot of ways to fight for something aside from dying at the countryside. There goes writing, leading pickets (wahoo!!) etc.. blood surely is at stake but for people who does know what they are fighting for, it’s more than winning a basketball game or a home run.

    We share the same sentiments on blindness of people who choose to be silent. Gaya nga ng sinabi ko kanina, nakakainggit ka because you can freely state what’s on your mind. If I insist on doing it here, I must be dead now! hahaha..

    I like that part about feeding the poor. What about education and teaching them how to earn?! pwede naman kasing ganun.. Training them how to be earners not beggars! hay… But writings like this empowers my own lefty principles!

    For that! I am proud to have read this at ikakalat ko to dito.. at sasabihin kong.. kaibigan ko ang nagsulat niyan!! at least for the people na makakaintindi ng mga nakasulat dito like my former boss.. hehehe..

    Good job!! I’m looking forward to more!!! apir!! mwah!

  2. Watch out Michelle Malkin! We got more than a counter-balance now!

    I love it!

    This is what happens when people settle for the Hollywood version rather than picking up a biography, textbook, or newspaper. They tend to start thinking that an effective movement will only start and end with a version of the Million Man March. Most people don’t realize that, as a thousand mile march must start with a single step, movements usually start out small. They think that the civil rights movement happened in a couple of years rather than a hundred. They think that Mahatma was successful overnight, not realizing that he fought for close to half a century and was in fact unsuccessful on his own. They don’t know that the movement that Cesar Chavez led was actually begun by a group of Filipino farm laborers demanding minimum wage.

    Our battle is not with the politicians but with the masses that elect those officials. It is their apathy, their greed, the misinformation or half-truths that we battle. With education and organization comes empowerment.

    An individual finger can do very little to hurt a body but together creates a fist, and we’ll raise that fist and march!

    =============================================================

    “I die without seeing the dawn brighten over my native land. You, who have it to see, welcome it and forget not those who have fallen during the night” (Jose Rizal)

  3. I appreciate the comments.

    Laydidoodie — teaching beggars to earn money would be a temporary solution at best, in my opinion, because the system, as poorly designed as it is, will continue creating new beggars. It won’t end. It’s not going to stop until we get to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is the system itself, so we need to take THAT out, as opposed to just reshaping the ways the beggars live WITHIN the system. Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” illustrates that well. Read it when you get a chance.

    My red star — this is so, so true: “Our battle is not with the politicians but with the masses that elect those officials. It is their apathy, their greed, the misinformation or half-truths that we battle. With education and organization comes empowerment.” There is an entire class of individuals — perhaps the same group responsible for the putting out of the “Hollywood version” of anything — who are consistent in their efforts to keep the people stupid. Obviously, the less the people know, the longer and stronger their hegemony lives. Knowledge IS power. On the other hand, I give a lot of credit to the common people’s agency and ability to FIND information that is actually already out there. If they really want to, they will. Some people already started doing so. Malkin does suck, by the way.

  4. Hahaha!! Si John pala yung pulang tala!! I’ve been reading your page at wordpress.com. Magaling!! I salute how you both have been one in this battle against beasts of greed!! I’m doing my thing here too.. I’ll see you guys uber soon!!

    Klawdeen.. Anune?! lol.. I guess hindi tatamaan ang mga di nakakaintindi. I have a feeling na kaya malamig sakin yung iba dito dahil dito.. siyet.. I knew this was coming! paktay!! naknang! lol..

  5. Thanks, Laydidoodie! I really hope you make it here sooner than later. You, John, and I have plenty to do and talk about. Mang Larry will join us, too, won’t he?

    Don’t worry about other people acting cold towards you. It’s not your fault that you’re smarter than them. Woot!

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