October 28, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society

This last August, my son, Elia, and I drove down, then up, the Mississippi, taking photographs for our respective projects.  Elia feels attracted to decaying industry.  He gathers images of nature’s return inside factories and old structures.  I was taking shots of various abstract forms to be used in the neoteny video, the section describing how neoteny operates at different scales.  At night, Elia worked on the music for the video, using his Mac.  We were driving a rented car.  Elia wouldn’t reach 25 until the following month, so I was doing all the driving.

About half the time we took the slow roads that went through small towns, lingering around old river cities to take photos.  We stopped in Chartersburg, Memphis, Vicksburg, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Hannibal, Missouri, in that order.  A theme that quickly emerged was that in most sizable Mississippi cities there is gambling.  Elia got that out of his system early on.  This was the first time in his life he’d been in a casino.

On the way back up, on a Sunday in the middle of August, it emerged that Obama had concluded that he didn’t think he had the votes to get a public option through the Senate.  I remembered the trip I took almost 20 years ago, traveling by myself in a rented car up the East Coast, building sand castles in a different location every day.  Toward the end of that trip the radio revealed that the Soviet Union had fallen.  The elder Bush would later declare that the Soviet fall would lead to a new world order.  At the time, I wondered if in a new world order we would create an environment where there would be no starvation.  I wondered if health care would become available to all.

The diminution of the great polarity has not yet resulted in our feeling free enough to want to be free of want.  It seems we still prefer fear to feeling care.  The August Right Wing scream machine encouraged people to experience anxiety.  The net result was a wave of media attention on hesitation to change.  The intransigent senators, men representing those feeling frightened of difference, voted not to change.  And, of course, there was all the money dispersed by corporations to their campaigns.

Universal health care will come to America.  Will it be preceded by an economic collapse that drives a frightened middle class to behave in their own best interest instead of the interest of corporations?  Or, will there be an incremental disappearance of Republicans and conservative Democrats as their constituencies urbanize and grow younger?

As an activist, organizer and small business person, I feel depressed.  Marcia, my wife, met with Senator Durbin in August, declaring our desire for national health care in a press conference.  She was one of five local business people, picked by Durbin, to express deep dismay with the present system.  Marcia and I met with Durbin, along with four other activists, three years ago.  The net result was the immediate end of the Coast Guard practicing with automatic lead-based weapons on the Great Lakes.  Marcia’s meeting with Durbin this time did not result in celebration.

Perhaps an August car trip in the future will result in my turning on the radio and discovering, again, that the world has changed.  There will be universal health care.  Many will die unnecessarily before that happens.  When it comes, there will be celebration.


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