Writing commentaries has turned me into a sort of semi-professional curmudgeon. It's pretty easy too, since the world does indeed appear to be going to hell in a handbasket. Nonetheless, it's getting to be a drag. So, I'm going to try something new today. I'm going to try imagining a better future for America, and, by extension, the world.
True, in imagining what could be, I will once more be underscoring how far we are from such lovely dreams. Envisioning a better future can't help but evoke a certain amount of dismay about the present. But I'm going to try anyway, because you cannot get a better future without dreaming of it. The dream, the visualization, is what engenders change. We've seen this over and over again, from Gandhi to Mandela.
Imagine if the two billion dollars a week America is spending on the war in Afghanistan were being spent to build hospitals here at home. Or schools. Or high speed rail, light rail, bridges, tunnels.
Imagine if 10 percent of what America spends on the military was spent on the arts, and another 10 percent on the sciences - what kind of cultural renaissance would we be experiencing right now?
Imagine if no one went to sleep hungry in America, or the world. We have enough wealth on this planet right now to give everyone clean food and water.
Imagine if there were hundreds of thousands of newly employed workers installing federally subsidized solar panels, wind turbines, insulation, and efficient heating and lighting in your house and mine.
Imagine if all American military bases outside the US were shut down; How much fuel we'd be saving; How much money.
Imagine if America categorically refused to provide any material aid whatsoever to any brutal regime, regardless of ideology.
Imagine if children were taught empathy, comparative religion and literature, critical thinking and non-violent conflict resolution, and real science not creationist claptrap, the world over. No more madrassas of mindless rote memorization, no more ideologically-driven curricula - whether Islamic, Christian, Hindu, or Jewish. No one ever to be taught again that their way of life, their skin color, their tribe, country, ethnic group or religion was superior to any other.
Imagine if nothing was ever allowed to become 'too big to fail', again, and every single Wall Street gambler and corporate banking hotshot paid their fair share of their losses.
Imagine if corporate CEOs still made on average only 10 times what their workers made in salary. Compared to today's lopsided ratios, that would almost feel egalitarian.
Imagine if people thought that paying taxes was patriotic because instead of funding endless wars that bloated the coffers of mega-corporations and politicians, our tax dollars were spent on the best educational and health systems in the world, and on an Apollo-style full-bore attack on the intertwined challenges of energy independence and carbon neutrality.
Imagine if carping bullies like Rush Limbaugh, histrionic febrile charlatans like Glenn Beck, sub-intelligent corporate mouthpieces like Sean Hannity and vituperative racist homophobes like Anne Coulter were laughed at whenever they spouted their slanders, absurdities and lies.
Imagine if we could all be part of a civil dialogue, one big reality-based conversation among grown ups, with the congenital liars, bullies, and misanthropes all dropped by the wayside, dead ends on our evolutionary tree.
Imagine if all racism - black, white, yellow and brown, had withered away and you and I were always judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.
Imagine if America had some of the lowest teen pregnancy and infant mortality rates in the developed world, and some of the highest literacy rates, instead of the other way around.
Imagine if sexuality was seen as a gift from god, instead of something dirty and shameful.
Imagine if there were no welfare, because if you were fit to work, society had a job waiting for you, and if you were disabled, your needs were taken care of so you could live comfortably and with dignity.
Imagine if America didn't incarcerate almost 25% of all of the prisoners on earth.
Imagine that instead of one woman in four on our planet being subjected to sexual or domestic violence, that number was none in 4 billion.
Imagine if parents never struck their children, but met their needs and tolerated their inevitable misdeeds with patient, unconditional love.
Imagine if it was OK that you believed in one god and I in another, or none at all, that I were straight and you gay.