America Needs a True Revolution of Values

affairAs you probably heard, the Values Voters Summit was recently held in Washington, DC. What exactly is a values voter, and who exactly decides on the definition of a values voter?

In the Orwellian world of conservative-Republican-Christian-fringe doublespeak, the goal is to confuse, obfuscate, distort and deceive. Concepts are intentionally misnamed to suggest a completely opposite meaning. So, universal healthcare is characterized as “fascism”. Disdain for women’s reproductive rights is called “pro-life”. Denial of rights to same-sex couples becomes “the protection of marriage”. And rejection of evolution and the teaching of creationism in public schools fall under “religious liberty”. Given these twisted definitions of reality coming from the Far Right, it stands to reason that I am skeptical of their definition of values – presumably “family” values – or values voters for that matter.

The list of confirmed and invited guest speakers at the summit reads like a who’s who of the usual tea partying suspects: opportunistic, empty-suit G.O.P. politicians, and washed-up and recycled “rising stars” holding their finger to the wind; secessionist sympathizers and bellicose, blowhard news entertainers; immigrant haters and Obama haters; homophobic ex-beauty pageant contestants, and the Bible-thumping, self-righteous moralizers and demonizers, and the like.

And who made Carrie Prejean and Mike Huckabee the experts on values? What can Sen. Jim DeMint, Bill O’Reilly, or Rep. Michele Bachmann teach me on the subject of values, or anything of any importance for that matter? I’m not sure. I shall search elsewhere for my values, thank you very much.

One person I will consult is Martin Luther King. The angry mobs of his day labeled him a communist. He talked about the need for a revolution of values. Specifically, he said:

“…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

In today’s post-bubble reality called the Great Recession, Dr. King’s words resonate more than ever. As a rabbi reminded me recently in her Rosh Hashanah sermon, these days we have been forced to live with less, to make our lives fuller with less. For many Americans, it was a summer of stay-at-home vacations. People now have to dig deep within, to give more of themselves to their communities and the institutions that matter to them.

Yet during the times of plenty, although many more people were happy, empty values were allowed to thrive. Before the recession hit, Gordon Gekko and his philosophy of “greed is good” were provided a safe haven. The people who could steal the most were hailed as heroes – the best and the brightest, standard-bearers of the American Dream, the people we wanted to become. And surely, someone out there believed that they needed a fifth mansion, yacht or car to make them even happier than their first four.

Yet, in those times of empty economic calories, of massive profits extracted through paper shuffling and smoke and mirrors, there were multitudes who did not share in the wealth. These silent suffering people had been rendered invisible. The prevailing values had dictated that the wealthy few should take all of the economic spoils. The poor are as they always have been – poor and becoming even poorer. And the middle class is, at best, like the proverbial hamster on the treadmill, spinning wheels yet gaining no ground.

In a worst-case scenario, the people in the middle are joining the ranks of the poor, and there is no middle left. In a society that values property rights over people, families are thrown into the streets for the sake of predatory corporate profit. Everyday people must choose between paying for food, rent and health care. The sick are allowed to die because they could not afford to get sick in the first place. Young people are saddled with obscene levels of college debt, yet cannot find jobs to pay off their mortgage-sized tuition loans.

Then there’s the environment. After thousands of years of respecting the land and acting in concert with it, something has gone awry. A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the International Energy Conference at the United Nations. There was a lot of good values talk there – about green jobs, the need for sustainable sources of energy, and empowering poor communities and developing nations through renewable energy technologies. The production-consumption model of economic growth has run its course. Taking, making and wasting for the needs of 1 billion people – at the expense of the remaining 5 billion – has damaged the Earth’s ecosystems, depleted its natural resources, and fueled political instability around the globe. “Oh, mercy mercy me. Oh, things ain’t what they used to be” as Marvin Gaye used to sing. “Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas. Fish full of mercury.”

I can guarantee that the participants in the Values Voters Summit did not hold these family values in high regard — of social, economic or environmental justice — even though they claim to be religious and know God personally.

david.jpgApparently, there are many types of values out there, or at least they are packaged and promoted as such. To be sure, no one should claim a monopoly on them. But in the end, we must decide which values are meaningful to us, and which values should guide our government and our society. We can find values anywhere, including a down-and-dirty, anti-Obama tea party, or at the white-collar, business suit version that just took place in Washington. That does not mean we want to claim them as our own.

David A. Love

This article first appeared in The Black Commentator and is republished with permission.


Comments

  1. Ken says

    I agree with Mr. Love’s statements, and have a few of my own to add:
    I feel that our nation and society is in danger, yet I am hopeful.
    We are daily bombarded by hate, fear, suspicion and smear, because it sells. We don’t speak out against the hostile minority because their arguments are based on half-truths, bad logic, flat-out lies, and we have better things to do with our finite time and energy. Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
    President George “W” Bush called the US Constitution “just a goddammed piece of paper.”
    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House Counsel, said the Constitution was an “outdated document”.
    Former White House Spokesman Scott McClellan went on record saying that the Bush White House made a practice of telling FOX News what to report on for a given day, what to ignore, how to report it and what their angle was to be.
    Most of our major news sources are owned & operated by corporate conglomerates with billions in incentives to promote the public’s fear, hate, thirst and tolerance for war, surrender of rights, and opposition to restraint or regulation of their operations.
    Free press?
    Yes, let’s please take back our country, but let’s not hand it over to the modern-day Pharisees.
    Michelle Bachmann advocated an “armed insurrection” against the Obama administration on her Hannity FOX interview, having also called Obama “anti-American”. She kissed President Bush on the lips during his MN visit.
    Sarah Palin smears health reform at will, hysterically citing ‘death panels’ yet ignoring the estimated 20,000+ who die annually for lack of insurance in the US. As VP candidate, she proposed the US attack Russia for its aggression vs. Georgia.
    Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN-R)has kept his promise of ‘no new taxes’, but the decline in funding for infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and numerous support services has led to Minnesota’s parallel decline in all of these areas, where once it led the nation. People’s quality and duration of life is at stake, but Gov. T-Paw only cares about the bottom line (which is still $5 billion in debt).
    The ‘values voters’ voiced their concerns, and the GOP will doubtless capitalize on their superficial -but easily mouthed – ‘conservatism’. They will loudly state their platform: oppose gay marriage, abortion, be fiscally conservative, keep their guns, fight terrorism and pay the bare minimum in taxes.
    I have yet to see any statistics on how gay marriage has caused other marriages to fail. If gay marriage is banned, shouldn’t we ban divorce first? It’s far more damaging to families, societies, children, finances and ‘sanctity of marriage’ than gay marriage.
    Abortion is a convenient hot-button topic. If anyone were really ‘pro-life’, I would expect they also oppose the ongoing rape and poisoning of the environment for profit, oppose the current system of acceptable-death-for-profit healthcare, oppose the inhuman practices of child labor and forced labor at miniscule or no wages overseas, oppose the guns-for-all policy that arms the gangs and wackos of our land, oppose the racist (and minority and anti-women) bias in our business, police, judicial and penal systems. All of these issues take tens of thousands of lives annually, but none come close to the money-making and letter-writing machine that ‘abortion’ is.
    Our last GOP-dominated executive and legislative personnel brought us a ‘fiscally conservative’ budget that doubled the national debt, that made a habit of putting the (illegal) war spending on a separate – and even less visible – budget than the one ballooning out of control.
    We were sold a bill of goods eight years ago, that our elected officials were ‘compassionate conservatives’ who made decisions based on ‘family values’. Since then, we’ve pre-emptively invaded two sovereign countries – at least one of those based completely on lies and fabricated intellience. We’ve seen passage of the Patriot Act, which was written prior to 9/11 but was dead in Congress until then (many still have strong, unanswered arguments against the “official explanation” for 9/11 and its consequences to date)- this legislation authorizes formerly illegal wiretapping, surveillance, and a catch-all “any operations determined necessary for national security”, which opened the door for the NSA to spy on such national threats as the Quakers, Greenpeace and PETA. Habeus corpus was eliminated for certain suspects, police and military power increased, detentions without charges or trial, indefinite incarceration and even torture are now “American”. Benjamin Franklin said, “those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “when people fear their government, there is tyranny; when government fears the people, there is liberty”.
    By any definition, the US has been a terrorist the past eight years.
    Yes, let’s take back America.

  2. David Colcord Anderson says

    Don’t be quick to believe the numbers offered by those that would benefit by increased confiscation of private monies, and benefit by exercising greater control over individual citizens.

    We are told by the statists that a human without health care insurance is a victim, and a near powerless entity besieged and punished by evil doers in the private sector, and that the fabric of our society is rotting due to government’s neglect of the uninsured.

    Yet, these very statists will criminalize the uninsured citizen with their new system, and subject the uninsured to penalties and imprisonment.

    Who in the private sector has authority to mark you as convicted and subsequently imprison you?
    None.

    What individual considers imprisonment better than neglect?
    In this and all cases, neglect is freedom, even though it may be considered a harsh form at times.

    What system designed for the main purpose of furthering the public good of a free people would criminalize and imprison the very people it claims to champion?
    A system established to control and ration penalizes those that do not conform.

  3. jacksmith says

    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY http://bit.ly/TCq7O

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option: http://bit.ly/dDYSJ

    Hollywood Supports The Public Option :-) http://bit.ly/3XLwPi

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.

    THE REASON THE PUBLIC OPTION IS ESSENTIAL:

    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.

    BUT WE MUST ACT!

    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.

    SPREAD THE WORD!

    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    Things You Can Do To Help NOW! http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2009/09/tired_of_watching_people_die_n.html

    No Triggers! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-rosenbaum/a-trigger-for-the-public_b_277910.html

    Triggers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/weve-seen-these-triggers_b_283583.html

    Krugman on heathcare (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSM8t_cLZgk&feature=player_embedded)

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots: http://bit.ly/TJMty

    Howard Dean on the Public Option http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKfW2dUnow&feature=player_embedded

    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgOl3cETb4&feature=player_embedded

    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

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