Encryption on the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island

liberty2bThe encryption on the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island reads in part,

“… Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

For generation after generation we took these homeless, huddled masses yearning to be free, gave them refuge from hopelessness and tyranny and made them our own. They in turn brought their customs, culture, their inventiveness, their work ethics and yes even their religion or the lack thereof, to our shore and enriched our nation beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Why?

Because they wanted to be free. Free to worship as they chose. Free to join a union if they chose to. Free to give their children rights and freedoms that they had never enjoyed. Free to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Free to learn more through a public education. Free to cultivate their better natures. Free to pursue the noblest things in life such as justice and the common good. Free to be all that they could be.

And now some two-hundred plus years later this noble experiment in freedom, yes freedom of choice and freedom from want and tyranny is being co-opted by those who either don’t understand what that encryption stands for or they just plain don’t care. They are telling us we don’t work hard enough. They are telling us that being poor is something people want to be because they are lazy and shiftless and don’t want to work. They are telling us that it’s alright to be greedy and not care about our neighbors. That our government of the people, by the people and for the people doesn’t really stand for the common good. That the common good is what the few, the rich few or the corporate world tell us it is and it isn’t something that our government of the people, by the people and for the people should be concerned with.

They say that our government is bad and that it wasn’t meant to promote the general welfare or secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. They say that those who now come to our shore seeking a better life must be sent back where they came from. They say that it is wrong for workers to want a living wage. They say that it is not a function of government to provide our children with a free and quality education. They say that, that should be left up to the private sector and that only those who can afford to pay should have health insurance.

They would have us believe that it’s okay to rape Mother Earth. That it’s okay to spoil our soil and our water sources if it keeps us addicted to fossil fuels. They say that climate change is a cruel hoax. That despite all the evidence that our polar caps are melting, our glaciers are disappearing and our aquifers are drying up nothing needs to be done.

They pit us against each other and ourselves all in the name of corporationism and capitalism and tell us that it’s our fault that our jobs are disappearing to third world countries because we are the ones who are greedy and want too much. They tell us that we have to learn to live on less and work even harder so that they the deciders can have more and that when they have more we will eventually have more too as it will begin someday in the distant future to trickle down and we will be thankful that they are being so generous.

Corporations aren’t inherently bad or evil, but those who run them have morphed from good old-fashioned Americanism to what I would characterize as ‘the bottom line mentality’. The bottom line and profits being the all-consuming way that corporations operate. It no longer about serving Americans and the community it’s all about the bottom line. The profit margin as the only factor that matters. And right now corporations are enjoying profits that are next to obscene if not downright obscene. They take from workers and the communities in which they live and operate and do little or nothing to give back or promote those workers or the communities.

And the notion that corporations are people is simply insane. They are not people and they never were nor should they ever be. Corporations as a living breathing thing are outrageous at the very least. And giving credence to such a notion is sheer and utter stupidity. Corporations have always had their place in our nation’s culture but making them into the super humans to which the Supreme Court decision ‘Citizens United’ elevated them is inherently wrong on so many levels.

And then there is the culture among us that would have us believe that racism, bigotry, and hatred have been eradicated from our shore and that all the laws in place to prevent the fostering of racism and bigotry and hatred are no longer needed. That now all are equal under the law even as they pass laws that restrict a woman’s right to make a personal choice. Even as they pass laws to restrict the right of seniors, students and minorities to vote.

It is a myth of the highest order. Racism, bigotry, and hate still have a hold on this nation and its people. Want and need and hunger are the boon companions of hate, bigotry and racism and they are palatable. Corporate greed presides over and encourages lawmakers from the federal government all the way down to municipalities to write laws that take from the poor and give to the rich. Laws that restrict the rights of the average citizen to have their say in our democracy even at the lowest levels of government.

On this the 237th Anniversary of our Declaration of Independence we the people are no longer in charge of our own destiny. Our government no longer consists of ensuring domestic tranquility. No that is now the prevue of those who would have us believe that the second amendment trumps all other laws. We are told that our government shouldn’t be in the business of promoting the general welfare nor securing the blessings of liberty.

We have become slowly and surely a government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation. So help us, God! Amen!

Can anything be done to change what is happening to our world? Yes, it can. But it will take like Margaret Mead said, “A small determined group of thoughtful committed citizens..” to make that change a reality. All is not lost, but until we quit listening to those who would have us believe nothing can be done and start a new movement in which the people rise up to give re-birth to our founders vision of what our nation should be nothing will change. Our elected representatives must be led by a popular groundswell from the grassroots. They are so engrained with the status quo that they can only continue to do as they have been doing for the past 30 years which is campaign for re-election on a platform that simply keeps them in office whereby they deliver the status quo.

It is not a hopeless cause, but we must mobilize and organize and march and picket and speak out. As Thomas Paine said of the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls! The souls of our citizens are being tested and tried and we can only redeem our souls by banding together in small groups at first and telling those who would control and dictate to us what our way of life ought to that no we will not follow them down that path. Apathy is malignant cancer that eats at our lives and is trying to steal our sacred honor. We can’t let that happen!

I hope everyone had a sane, safe and happy Fourth of July! ” —– Bob Bearden


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