Point of View Columns

Be the Light Not the Darkness

It is a certainty that Barack Obama did not run for president so that he could be the first one to cut the food stamps program, a program whose recipients are mainly mothers, children and the elderly. It is also a certainty that his supporters never envisioned him presiding over a federal government that often seems to only care about shredding, carving and eviscerating America’s social safety net. To counter this Season of Mean, President Obama has stated that he will take executive action wherever possible to stem this terrible tide and it is time for us to do the same.

The SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), also known as the food stamp program, was devised to assist people who were on the wrong side of the poverty line. That there should be anyone in danger of starving in the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet is a disgrace. That the United States Congress could be bullied and browbeaten by Teapublican domestic terrorists and thugs wearing the gossamer disguise of fiscal conservatism is also a disgrace. But somehow, reducing the food stamp program by $8 billion over the next ten years seems better than reducing it by $40 billion over the same period of time – once more proving that the Teapublican terrorist tactics seem to be working.

The federal unemployment insurance program for the long term unemployed has literally helped people keep their homes, their hopes and their dignity. Once again the Teapublican thugs and domestic terrorists have seen fit to dismiss the very real human misery that they have caused. And in an obscene demonstration of Orwellian illogic they have claimed that unemployment insurance actually prevents people from seeking employment.

In the face of this windstorm of misery President Obama announced that he will be utilizing executive orders wherever and whenever possible to offset the domestic terrorism emanating from the right wing of the right wing. But it is a certainty that President Obama recognizes that this will not be enough.

And that is why it is important that the supporters of a progressive vision in this country expand the battlefield from the political charnel house that is the Congress to every state, city, community and neighborhood. That is why it is important that every person who believes that compassion is a virtue and that humanity is not a sign of weakness take it upon themselves to bring light where others would impose darkness.

It will remain important to change the political dynamic in Washington and in state houses and cities across the country. But the systemic change brought about by the right wing of the right wing took decades of dedicated and consistent effort. Countering that change will not take place overnight or by magical incantations.

But while that change is being confronted, countered and reversed there are children who are hungry, families that are homeless and men, women and children who are hopeless. And it is not enough to identify the Teapublicans who are their tormentors. It is time to be the light.

There are countless ways to bring gentle into the public dialogue. There are an infinite number of ways that we can demonstrate kindness – hiring an extra worker, volunteering at a school, giving food to a pantry or friendship to someone who believes that they are friendless.

What is most important is that those who truly believe in a progressive vision take the time to be the light. And in this time when the forces of darkness are real and strong, it has never been more important to be the light.

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