brotherpeacemaker

It's about our community and our spirituality!

Learning From Chile

The people who worked around the clock to bring the miners trapped in the collapsed mine in Chile are seeing their hard work come to fruition. As I write this, the twentieth of thirty three miners has been brought up from the rock prison after more than two months of being trapped. All morning the news has been reporting on this story. In my usual morning ritual, I listened to the news commentators report on the climax of this entire saga using colorful metaphors describing the ordeal as a defining moment featuring the best qualities of the human spirit. According some reporter standing at the rim of the area where the rescue was taking place, the rest of the world could learn a thing or two about people coming together to help others avert disaster. The good feeling community minded sentiment was seconded by the people behind the anchor desk.

But the next story at the top of the news and taking everybody’s attention was about good old fashioned American politics and the battle between Republicans and Democrats and the continuing conflict of political good versus evil. What hangs in the balance is our future as a country. The wrong move could throw the country back into an economic tailspin that the country wouldn’t recover from until warp drive is invented.

The conservative mentality is that we don’t have the resources to save everyone. It’s a dog eat dog world and we shouldn’t be trying to prop up companies or people or organizations that can’t make it on their own. I might be wrong, but it seems like the majority of conservatives say things like we shouldn’t be passing laws demanding corporations to pay their workers a minimum wage at a national level. Some of these people say things like we need to cut spending on our social programs in order to cut taxes to jump start our economy. Some of these people argue that the top two percent of income earners in this country whose income is more than a quarter million dollars deserve a lower tax rate like everybody else. So what if we have to shut down schools and trim budgets across the board across the country and lay people off in order to make ends meet. That way, we can avoid anything that might even remotely resemble socialism.

The rescue of the Chilean miners should be an example to us all. But somehow, some of us look at this rescue with blinders on. We see people coming together for the rescue of their fellowman. But then as soon as some of these same people turn their head away from the image of people emerging one by one from the bowels of the Earth, the lesson learned is thrown out the window. We don’t need our federal government to be in a place that can quickly respond to the needs of our citizens. We’ll let the local populace decide what level of readiness they need to respond to any emergency in their backyard. And when their backyard includes a volcano or a beach front blackened by oil from a spewing oil well, a disaster that could easily overtax a local populace, why would anyone call on the federal government for help?

Contrary to what President Ronald Reagan said, the scariest nine words in the English language are not, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. I think the phrase “People are too selfish to think of helping others” is a lot scarier. If we take some people’s philosophy about helping others and apply it to a mine collapse rescue, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine some people saying “it’s not my problem, I don’t want to help.” Unlike the people who would do what they can to help the miners trapped underground, some would rather not risk themselves in order to help. But then these same people wouldn’t hesitate for a split second if the tables were turned and they found themselves in need. Some of these people may not hesitate to ask for help, but they’ll be damned if they stand by and let other people get help without a fight.

One thing a lot of people forget about the government is that it’s meant to help everyone. It is truly nice to live in a community where the people have the resources to look after their own or to help their neighbors. But not everyone lives in such luxury. Some of us live in communities and realities where we need the help of others to get by. And when our neighbors don’t have the resources to share and help us get through lean times, our government should be able to stand up and help us in times of need.

I watched the television news bring up those miners and the entire country of Chile cheered. It was a prime example of national pride. Everyone celebrated those people being rescued by people who came together to help those people in need. But that lesson isn’t easily transferred to our social structure. People coming together to help is nice, but just don’t come up with some socially minded concept of everyone contributing to make sure everyone has what they need. Saving people trapped in a mine is a nice thing to do. But saving people from poverty or a lack of medical care or from poor schools or other issues of disparity really isn’t a good idea, at least not in America. If only people could see the benefit of helping to save their neighbors.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Thoughts

1 Comment »

  1. Well said Brother.

    Comment by Claude | Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Reply


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