Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Right to Life?

When it comes to the United States Declaration of Independence, the following sentence is the line we most often hear quoted:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

My heart soars whenever I hear those words, for they are truths that resonate down to my very soul. The unalienable right to life - what a beautiful acknowledgment of the preciousness, the sanctity, the exquisite wonder of life itself. Why then, do we not honor that fundamental belief by acknowledging that every human being on the face of planet Earth is entitled - endowed by creation itself with the unalienable right! - to their own little slice of tangible space in which they can actually live?

The right to life is not merely a lofty ideal to be admired - it's the founding principle of a nation that supposedly values life above all else, including profits. The capitalistic society we've constructed however, has tilted that scale in favor of profits over the rights and needs of living human beings. When banks foreclose on distressed families, it forces them into the streets where it's illegal for them to even lay down and sleep. Vagrancy (homelessness) is against the law in most cities in this country.

How fascinating that is. We've actually made it illegal for people who can't afford to buy space to occupy any space at all. What options do we suppose are available to such people? Do they have magical anti-gravity tethers that enable them to float above the ground, so as not to "disturb?"

I surely can't be the only person who sees the nonsensical disconnect between what we as Americans say we value, and what we're doing to each other for the sake of money.

As a citizen, I've paid taxes for as long as I can remember. Those taxes have gone to support many government programs I agree with, and many more I actively dislike - including the massive banking bailout now known as "Tarp." It's an appropriate name, given that trillions of our tax dollars have been tossed beneath a blanket whose corners are being held by AIG, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America. Those dollars then disappeared before our eyes, in a rather magical "now you see it, now you don't" kind of way. Meanwhile, those same financial institutions are conducting themselves in a "business as usual" fashion. They've raised our credit card interest rates, lifted our mortgage interest rates and added fees and fines to the bills of those who are in financial trouble. Their earnings are therefore coming back to profitability, but it's happening at the expense of the same living beings who just spent trillions to keep their businesses afloat. What were we thinking? Were we thinking? We saved the very institutions that are pressing their weight upon our necks. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen that made us do so. But in any case, it's time we reconsider that decision for the good of us all.

I say we simply repossess the banks, cancel everyone's debts to them and redistribute all the foreclosed homes in America to those who are still in need. We can also take over the many hotels that have gone into foreclosure and are now bank-owned due to the recession, and install some homeless people in their empty rooms. Last but not least, all the national parks we currently pay to support could be turned into temporary refugee camps for the downtrodden, at least until we figure out how to provide them all with a place to live.

If we truly support and believe in the inalienable right to life, how is it possible to divorce that right from actual space to live in? On the other hand, if we'd rather continue to put private enterprise profitability before the right to life, perhaps we should write a constitutional amendment that goes something like this:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men must find the means to afford to live, that our banks have been endowed by their Creators with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are the right to pursue a profit at the expense of Humankind, to deprive people of their right to utilize our public spaces and to cut short their pursuit of Happiness unless all their bills are paid."

Think about it...please.

1 comment:

  1. ...i am living it, so i darned well am thinking about it... thank you so much for your work...you are fruiting heavily with your thoughts and i need a hero right now...thank you so much..count me in...