Thursday, October 01, 2009

Measure of a Society: How Will America be Judged?

Jimmy Carter once said, "The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens. As Americans, we are blessed with circumstances that protect our human rights and our religious freedom, but for many people around the world, deprivation and persecution have become a way of life."

People around the world? How about people right here in our own country? We have a system in place that rewards and advocates for big business at the expense of the American people. For-profit business interests is our society's number one concern, even when human lives are at stake, or the quality of those lives.

Just ask the woman with breast cancer, who was denied insurance the day before her scheduled double mastectomy.

Just ask Wendell Potter, the whistle-blower against the insurance industry and former chief spokesman for Cigna Healthcare, who when testifying before congress said,

"I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick—all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors. [...]"The thing they fear most is a single-payer plan. They fear even the public insurance option being proposed; they'll pull out all the stops they can to defeat that to try to scare people into thinking that embracing a public health insurance option would lead down the slippery slope toward socialism ... Putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor. They've used those talking points for years, and they've always worked."
And what about our incarceration rate - 2.3 million behind bars, as of 2008 - that makes the US, "prisonhouse of nations", a phrase coined by Mumia Abu-Jamal(not advocating for case, but I believe his phrase to be accurate), as well as our top ranking execution rate, following only China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in the number of executions in 2008. Is jailing non-threatening, non violent citizens by the boatload, simply another way to line the pockets of industry?

Just ask the millions of people arrested and jailed for possessing marijuana, a plant, far less toxic than alcohol and most prescription drugs, not to mention, its many medicinal properties. Would the legalization of this easily home-grown plant cause the pharmaceutical industry to lose the unconscionable profits they rake in year after year?

Just ask Sally Harpold, grandmother of triplets. She bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at one pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at and other pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time. Four months later, she ended up in handcuffs, arrested for her two purchases.

What about the death penalty?

Just ask the poor and the powerless, as nine times out of ten they are the ones executed.

Or, more specifically, ask Texas, which has accounted for 69% of all executions in the southern states since 1976 and 39% of all executions in the nation during the same period. The spike in executions in Texas occurred during the reign of George W. Bush who signed the death warrants of 151 men and 1 woman during his term.

Rick Perry broke the record of his predecessor when he presided over his 200th execution in June of 2009. Not only that, Perry just fired three from the board ready to probe the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, the one he denied a reprieve even after a detailed report by an arson expert said the evidence that Mr. Willingham had set the fire was flimsy and inconclusive. On September 18, 2009 Perry was quoted as saying that there was "clear and compelling, overwhelming evidence that he was in fact the murderer of his children"

Another measure of society is the way the culture disposes of their dead. If that's true, what will future historians say about us?

Just ask Detroit, too broke to bury their dead.. The number of unclaimed corpses at the Wayne County morgue in Detroit is at a record high, having tripled since 2000. 2000? You mean since George W. Bush took office? What a coincidence. Anyway, people just don't have the money to bury their dead and as unemployment in the area is approaching 28%, and many people, can't afford last rites; the other problem is that the county's $21,000 annual budget to bury unclaimed bodies ran out.

Jimmy Carter was not the only one who said the worth of society can be measured by the manner in which it treats its weakest member.
It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life-the sick, the needy and the handicapped." ~Hubert Humphrey

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering the prisons"
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." - Mahatma Ghandi

"Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members -- the last, the least, the littlest." ~Cardinal Roger Mahony,

The greatness of America is in how it treats its weakest members: the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped, the underprivileged, the unborn.
~Bill Federer

"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying,"
~Pope John Paul II


If one believes that the worth and dignity of a civilization is judged by the way its weakest members are treated, we cannot help but look back in shame at our past. However, although we can do nothing to change the past, we can make up for it by setting a new course for our future. Currently, as a nation, we value money more than life. People serve money...an entity that does not exist in and of itself, as it is nothing without people and the infrastructure to support it.

Before we change anything we must reclaim our humanity. Once we do that, the rest will fall into place.

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