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          Quo Vadis - Where Do We Go from Here?

                                                                                                                            Earth Manifesto Insights

                                                                                                              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                             November 2004

My fellow Americans, YES, we must heal.  YES, we must overcome the divisiveness of the November 2004 elections, and the polarization of the electorate.  We must find ways to vanquish the fear that continues to haunt us from the terrible terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  We must heal our psyches and our souls, and courageously purge our nightmares of fears of the wolves that threaten us in the forest, as evoked by Republican television ads.

We must begin to heal.  But we cannot turn our backs on the challenges confronting us.  We must commit ourselves to remaining engaged, and to making a difference in the world.  Let us not lose sight of the need to fight for economic justice, peace, and well-being in our societies.  And let us not ignore the health and ecological integrity of our home planet Earth.  Let us not forget that it is our children and their descendents who comprise future generations, and we must not forsake them by allowing politicians to implement expedient, selfish, regressive, and shortsighted policies.

There are plenty of very real dangers in the world.  Each and every one of us faces our own individual set of insecurities.  Collectively, we face a broad range of risks and uncertainties.  We must have FAITH in our potential as human beings to overcome these challenges.  And we must advance a national dialogue to find the best ways to cope, since hope, trust, honesty, good communication, understanding and fairness are extremely important to our democracy.  REASON and TRUTH must join our deep feelings, and become hallmarks of our decision-making processes.

We must have a moral vision of who we are as a nation.  We must have convictions and passion and a strategic focus and dedication to positive causes.  The polarization of Americans is not a simple conflict of cultural ideals and ethical certainties and distorted "family values".  Our true morality lies in our choices and actions, not just in our words and prayers and Sunday-morning rituals.  We live in a national community that is far more complex than ‘God, guns, and gays’.

We must begin to clearly appreciate these complexities.  We must prioritize our efforts to deal with the great challenges facing the world.  We have many concerns in common.  It is ironic and unfortunate that fear and cultural issues have been used to divide us so sharply, for it is crucial that we begin to work together to solve our problems.  We cannot continue to ridicule, demonize, and oppress those whose opinions and lifestyles differ from our own.

Planet Earth is growing more and more crowded, and as it does we must find better ways to deal with the natural conflicts that arise.  The human population is on track to increase from 6 billion to 9 billion in the first 50 years of the 21st Century.  This will exacerbate conflicts over land, water, oil and other natural resources.  We cannot accept leadership that eagerly uses divisive strategies, deception, violence and warfare to accomplish its anti-egalitarian economic and political goals.

Now that the election is over, we cannot abandon the fight for truth, fairness and justice.  We must make sure that our common values are expressed in our lives and in our social and political institutions.  We must acknowledge the ultimate wisdom of the Golden Rule, and treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated.  And we must demand that our government and our leaders lead us honestly and wisely.  We cannot let our society continue to be an oligarchy governed by, and for, the rich and the privileged.  We must not allow our government to become a morally bankrupt, corrupt, and fraudulent illusion of democracy.  We must create a society that at least roughly serves all of its citizens, and one that protects the qualities that make life wholesome and meaningful.

The fundamental values of our Constitution are being threatened:  federal government power is increasing, and power is being more blatantly abused;  the intrusiveness of government is insidiously growing;  the checks and balances of our Constitution are being circumvented;  protections of the general welfare are being weakened;  democracy is becoming less representative of the people and less fair;  many of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are being diminished;  the separation of the Church and State is being eliminated;  and secrecy and deception by our leaders and the media are undermining the basic tenets of democratic decision-making, which is a well-informed electorate.

Government spending is out of control, helped by the political expediency of deficit spending.  Congress has enacted enormous, regressive tax breaks that primarily benefit rich people.  This has been accomplished by borrowing funds from the future, creating the largest National Debt in world history.  This debt has increased by more than 800% since Ronald Reagan took office and began implementing these shortsighted policies. We have largely financed aggressive militarism abroad using public support that would arguably diminish dramatically if the public were to be required to actually pay for the cost of the wars today --- say, for instance, if we enacted a bigger tax on gasoline.

A redesign of our economic system using wise incentives is critically needed in order to include all costs of production in each product.  This would be a far better plan than allowing the current status quo to continue, which is characterized by wasteful subsidies to giant corporations that have unfair and dominant political influence.  We must support innovation to help solve our problems, rather than effectively opposing it with misguided subsidies, laws and policies.

We must change our campaign finance laws to give the power usurped by Big Business back to people and communities.  We must staunch the flow of red ink and the growth of "entitlements" and the obscenely wasteful misappropriations for pork barrel spending.  And we must emasculate the arrogance of neo-imperialistic militarism, and the insidious growth of inefficient, wasteful, intrusive, megalomaniac, power-obsessed, special-privilege-defending Big Government.

We must find ways to create peace in the world.  The United States is conducting bitter wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with 150,000 of our troops directly in harm's way, and about 2,000 American soldiers dead.  We have been responsible for killing tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people, many of them women and children, in what is a dangerous and unjust diversion from our efforts to combat terrorism.

Our allies have been alienated, due to our unilateralist actions in Iraq.  We are creating new enemies rapidly by pursuing arrogant militarism, and causing correlated injustices.  The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the expanding industries of arms production and sales are making the world increasingly dangerous.  A worldwide fear of terrorism has replaced our Cold War feeling of national insecurity.  In its shadow we are allowing a perverse form of patriotism to blind us to the immorality and injustice of aggressive warfare, and of Shock and Awe bombings of people in other countries.

Our dependence on fossil fuels is getting extremely expensive, as is the support by our leaders for subsidies to Big Oil, Coal and Nuclear industries.  It is becoming increasingly foolish to remain addicted to wasteful fossil fuel usages while pursuing policies that are effectively opposed to intelligent initiatives that embrace conservation, efficiency, innovation, and energy alternatives.  We can win the "Oil Endgame", but we will not do so by stupidly sticking with Big Oil and military occupation of oil-producing countries!

The ecological integrity of our natural surroundings is being degraded.  The nonpartisan League of Women Voters has given the Bush Administration's environmental record an "F" grade, calling it "the worst environmental record of any president in the history of our nation."  This assessment is principally due to the favoring of corporate interests over the public's interest in a clean and safe and healthy environment.  Pursuing such anti-conservation policies does not make good sense.

The Office of Management and Budget found that the total cost of environmental regulations is FIVE TO SEVEN TIMES less expensive than the cost to society that results from pollution, adverse healthcare costs, and environmental cleanup.  We must not allow business to externalize enormous costs onto society, nor can we encourage them to evade taxes, or to have laws rewritten to the exclusive benefit of giant corporations.  We cannot allow sensible regulations to be circumvented, or IRS audit enforcement to be reduced, or EPA oversight to be diminished, or profits to be hidden in offshore tax shelters.

The gap between the rich and poor is increasing, as is the number of people below the poverty level in America.  When we enact policies that create greater homelessness and poverty, and make the rich richer, it is not a moral action.  When we an increasing number of Americans not to be covered by health insurance (currently over 45 million), then we jeopardize their well-being in order to facilitate profit-making by insurance companies and we introduce a sadly unjust state of affairs.  The cost of health insurance is skyrocketing for everyone who must pay for their own coverage.  Insurance and drug company lobbyists are being allowed to influence policy and write laws that favor Big Business at the public's expense.  These misguided characteristics do not represent moral values, and they highlight the weaknesses of Neoconservative doctrines.

George W. Bush vigorously defends the "under God" clause of our national Pledge of Allegiance.  Yet divisiveness naturally arises when we fail to demonstrate a truly committed concern for "liberty and justice for all."  Instead, our political system allows unfair and ruthless favoritism of the rich, and of giant corporations, AS IF PROFITS ARE TRULY MORE IMPORTANT THAN PEOPLE.

Americans must boldly fight back, demanding positive change and Progressive values.  The very future of hope lies in broad-mindedness and honesty and generosity of spirit.  We must embrace shared security, true justice, the empowerment of communities, peaceful conflict resolution, empathetic social policies, fairness of opportunity under the law, strong support for good public education, intelligent planning, fiscal responsibility, sustainable activities, ecological sanity, moderation, courage, integrity, and caring about future generations.

The November 2, 2004 national elections resulted in support for our "War President" and his social conservatism.  Yet Progressive democratic values have been substantially disenfranchised.  It is not ethically acceptable to allow the undermining of the fair representation that is at the heart of our democracy.

The American people survived the very long and divisive 2004 campaign season, during which they were courted, cajoled, confused, emotionally manipulated, and frightened.  Republicans are now acting as if they have a strong mandate to continue the aggressive implementation of their policies, but these are in many ways distinctly and unacceptably discriminatory, disadvantageous to the public good, and harmful to future generations.

We cannot allow this.  We must begin to heal, but we cannot turn our backs on the challenges confronting us.  Let us commit ourselves to remaining engaged, to demanding fairness, and to making a positive difference in the world.  This can be accomplished!

To find out more, see the ideas contained in the Political Agenda for a More Sane Humanity and other parts of this Earth Manifesto.

   Dr. Tiffany Twain, A Concerned American           

"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."

                                                           --- Sir Winston Churchill