Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The tearing of our fragile social fabric

Hi again - I know, it's been a while. I'm trying to figure out what to do with this blog, but so many outrageous things are going on, it's hard not to vent here. If you get something out of these posts, maybe you could share the link with friends and invite them to visit, and then we'll see.  For now, I will try to post a couple times a week.

What inspired me to break the silence was today's JS headline: "Bus system may cut routes, fares." If you have read it, then you have a sense of the breadth of the cuts coming for public transportation around here. Walker's 10% cut in state support for transit translates into a $6.8 million loss for the Milwaukee County Transit System - per year!

The guy hated county government when he was our woeful executive, and he hates public services for the non-wealthy, as proven in his budget repair bill and his biennium budget. He also seems to hate anything that gets people out of their individual cars to save on energy, environmentally unfriendly and costly road-building, air pollution, and congestion.

But of course the worst thing is that buses are the main way the not-so-wealthy folks get around - like to jobs or schools. But if you are in the company of the Ayn Rand crowd (like Paul Ryan who makes his staff read her vacuous baloney), the descendents of John Birchers (the Koch brothers certainly come to mind), and the corporate bosses who donate to your campaigns and put mediocre thinkers and ideologues into public office, I guess services for those poor dumb masses is just not your priority.

Really, friends, it feels that bad. I can't write that in a serious journal, but I can write it here - because in my heart of hearts, that is what I think is really going on.

My heart sank reading of the mob attack in the Riverwest neighborhood the night of the fireworks (Flynn's comments being distinctly unhelpful). It is so easy to blame the thugs who sent several people to hospitals to get stitches, but if we don't understand what creates that kind of behavior, especially the disdain in which the attackers appeared to hold those they were attacking, if we don't address what is really tearing our social fabric apart, what it means when people like Walker, the Fitzgeralds, and people like Vos or Darling inflict - with an arrogant attitude, mind you - more suffering and marginalization, more hardship, on populations already reeling from stresses both historic and new (esp. since the 2008 criminally caused financial meltdown), then we can look forward to more signs that that social fabric is indeed unraveling.

Poverty and racism cannot be overcome with more poverty and racism.  Really, it's true.

A lot of attention is focused right now on recalls, and that's a fine thing. But let's not leave for later the urgent need to address the attitudes and values that are at the root of these vast inequities, examining them within ourselves and our families, and overcoming them in all our social interactions, in our communities, churches, as a counter-witness to those who believe affluence and privilege, or the power of political offices, or - let's just say it out loud - their white skins, give them a right to enhance their privilege further at the expense of those they do not see as equals and for whom they feel no connection, no responsibility - as if their wealth and privilege is not a direct result of long and deeply-rooted attitudes and injustice.

It's just gotta be said out loud. These people are implementing policies that are going to bring out the worst in us. We have to counter with a commitment to the best in us, an overwhelming assertion of the best in us.

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