Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let old accomplishments be remembered

Noisemakers, confetti, a kiss at midnight. The old year is a tired old man who has fought the battles and now his time is over. The new year is portrayed as a new baby filled with energy and hope.

People move on in the same way, unconcerned about what has gone before, assuming the future will continue its forward momentum with new problems to solve. The old ones are done, after all.

This is an incredibly dangerous assumption.

A radical right-wing Congress in power seems determined to return to the politics of the past, wiping out legislation and rights that we take for granted.

This new year, make the resolution to remember past milestones and some of the people that made our futures possible.

Remember, when politicians like Sen. Rand Paul argue that government had no business passing the Civil Rights and Voting acts, that there was a time before Martin Luther King literally gave his life helping to secure social justice for all citizens, a time when people of color could not vote or hold elected office or even get a drink of water in a public fountain.

Remember, when politicians argue that Social Security is broke and that Medicare is just too expensive, that there was a time when older relatives had to move into the basement or die slowly from the ravages of poverty once they could no longer work every day.

Remember, when a woman is nominated for a Supreme Court or presidential cabinet position, that Sens. Birch Bayh and Patsy Mink fought for Title IX, which opened education and social opportunities for girls that came with scholarships for sports like volleyball and crew.

Remember, when corporations complain about the costs of government regulations, that you can drink water out of any tap or take a deep breath because the Clean Air and Clean Water acts rank health above profit.

Remember that gays and lesbians can serve their country without having to hide who they are, that being sick no longer means coping with no health insurance, that credit card companies cannot change contracted interest rates just because they want to.

It's said that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it. In reality, if we don't remember the past, we could as easily be doomed to lose the future as well.

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