Sunday, November 20, 2011

American Dreams


I had dinner last night with friends and we got to talking about schools because we each have kids in school and about politics. At one point in the conversation I got riled up. This is not unusual and the people around the table know me well enough to not be shocked by any of this. We had been talking about what is going wrong with schools and I stated, for about the millionth time, that President Obama has been the worst education President in our history and that I won't vote for him.

People were taken aback.

I've been thinking about it ever since.

I have two daughters and I want them to lead great lives. I want them to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want them to have enough money to feel secure. I want them to have a home if that's what they want and to find someone to love. I got thinking about how difficult all of that is going to be fore them. How much more difficult it will be than it was for me. And it pissed me off.

Let's start with health. My daughters are growing up in an America that promotes bad food, bad habits, bad health. My wife and I just returned from Wegman's where there is more non-food than there is food. I include in the category of non-food the following (to name just a few): Doritos, Pepsi, Nutri-Grain bars, white bread, margarine, most juices, most cereals, and so on. Even the things that ought to be food such as turkey, chicken, salmon, beef are chemically induced Frankenfoods no better than hotdogs. I found out this week that most honey in the store isn't even honey.

My wife and I fill the cart with as much produce as we can find. Even here we're hobbled by the lack of good food. I picked up a tomato that was way too big and that I knew would taste like nothing at all. It cost $1.61. I put it back. It's just too hard to get good food in our America and it costs an incredible amount.

So, my family and I are faced with a difficult road when it comes to eating healthy.

Being healthy in the mind requires that they have regular access to books, that their school is phenomenal, and that they have time for imagination. We use the library which, thank goodness, still exists even though the funding has been stripped out of it. They read a lot at home and they read some in school (though too much of this is textbook crap that no one in their write mind would want to read). Their school however is falling apart, overcrowded, underfunded, and buried in tests. They take state or national tests about once a month and the teachers, knowing that their tenuous jobs are on the line teach to those tests. If it's not on the test, there is just no time in the day for it.

Hmm, I could go on complaining about all this stuff, but maybe I should change directions and think about solutions.

I need to raise my kids to say the hell with what they are told. Or, at least, I should teach them to question it. Last night at dinner, when people said to me that they still believe in the President and know that he can make a difference, I nodded and then asked, "Why do you believe that?" They said because of the things that he had said. "When?" I asked. "What did he say? How do the things that he has said match with what he has done?" And then I asked, "how has he fought for you?"

My point isn't that Barack Obama is such a terrible President. I think that he is a mediocre President, one who just wasn't ready for the job, and that he is saddled with a nearly impossible job. But he keeps playing by the old rules and by doing so he is reinforcing them. My point isn't that he's terrible, it's that I can't support someone who plays by the rules.

"So what other choice do I have?" asked the person who was most surprised by my lack of support for the Obama Administration.

My other choice is to rebel a little. I'll support the Occupy movements and work with other candidates for office. I'll write about how we have become slaves to corporations. I'll tilt at windmills. And I'll train my girls to ask questions and make statements that every so often make people at dinner parties gasp.

And I'll write on.