Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Idaho's leadership fails in promoting compassion

Guest opinion by William F. Hughes

Guest opinion by William F. Hughes
William Hughes lives in Hailey

The 1985 American Heritage Dictionary definition of "fascism" reads as follows: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Recent history has contributed to my belief that the corrupting influences of fear and greed have created a darkness of spirit in our national leadership that cannot be changed by the lies, propaganda, or tired platitudes constantly presented to citizens through a complicit media.

I saw a bumper sticker in Hailey this spring that succinctly captured the pathological hypocrisy of leadership today—"What countries would Jesus bomb?"

What kind of delusional leadership would willingly sacrifice young lives and hundreds of billions of dollars over such spurious threats as those apparently fabricated to justify the invasion of Iraq? The same delusional leadership that talks tough but ran with their tail between their legs when it was their time to serve their country. Absolute hypocrisy!

Now the same kind of low-caliber leadership here in Idaho is engaging in similar hypocrisies and deceit. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne is encouraging Idaho's children to compose an essay on compassion, while promoting the Department of Energy's plan to consolidate and increase the production of Plutonium-238 at the Idaho National Laboratory, a policy threatening the very lives of these same children.

Batteries for space exploration? I think not. Fear-based infatuation with the concept of a missile-defense shield continues in light of a reality I learned studying détente in a high school social studies class 30 years ago. To defeat such a system, an opponent simply launches so many ICBMs some will reach their target.

The Bush administration's response to 9/11 has been elective surgery with a chainsaw. So far, Governor, your team's foreign policy decisions have been a disaster for this country and its citizens, pouring gasoline on the fire of jihadist hatred by invading Iraq, creating the largest terrorist training camp imaginable, while inciting the governments of North Korea and Iran to accelerate their nuclear programs, their leaders responding belligerently to appeals for reason—exactly as the Neo-Cons and Bush/Cheney responded to appeals for restraint prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Now, Governor, you support the creation of "Spaceport Idaho," which will incite the Chinese to produce ICBMs like they do cheap color televisions. To cloak profligate, ineffective policy under a blanket labeled "National Security" does not somehow make it efficient or effective.

My reservoir of pain was already leaking when Channel 7 News announced Carrie French as the first female casualty from Idaho in Iraq. The brief biography of Carrie was all brightness and light, making this loss even more tragic if that were possible.

Gov. Kempthorne's speech writer provided him the obligatory eulogy that I was comfortable with until he suggested that Carrie "died protecting all we hold dear." Please tell me what that is, Governor, without using the words "democracy," "liberty," or "freedom," because the redundant rhetoric of the pathologically narrow-minded has cheapened the meaning of these words and divided our nation.

"Died protecting all we hold dear." Please tell me what that is, Governor. Is it no-bid contracts to Halliburton? Is it oil? Is it the profiteering from perpetual war? Is it more and more and more Pu-238? Obviously, it isn't this planet's atmosphere or groundwater. The meek may inherit the earth, but not until after the aggressors have turned it into an uninhabitable wasteland.

Governor, I would like you to write and submit an essay on compassion, and explain how the leadership of this country shares in the suffering of those in poverty, or those whose jobs have been shipped overseas, or those driven into bankruptcy by our health-care system, or those whose income and hope stagnates because our government refuses to enforce immigration laws, enabling the terrorists we are at war with to move freely across our southern border.

My cynicism persists despite efforts toward change. I look forward to the Dalai Lama's visit. His message is inspiring, though he will be preaching to the choir at the refuge of a benefactor.

We proceed with our eyes to the ground on a path that is familiar. We do so out of habit and fear of change. Eventually that path grows worn down, down, down, until it is a tunnel and we find ourselves stumbling in the darkness. Still we continue, any departure from this course considered a heresy. One day this tunnel will become our tomb, when by simply lifting our heads and changing direction we might have moved forward in the light.

Perhaps generations will pass before the day arrives when a spiritual revolution embracing love and compassion moves the body politic toward the reform necessary to diminish the corrupting influences that control government today, resulting in peace on earth and justice for all.

Or perhaps it will all end tragically; the drama continues—stay tuned!

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