by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
January 29, 2010
KATE McGARRIGLE: A SOUND FROM ANOTHER TIME
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- There are too many traumatized people in the world right now, and there aren't enough therapists to go around.
Nor are there enough couches, pints of Ben & Jerry's, spoons and Julia Roberts' movies dubbed into Farsi and Pashtun and Creole. Hershey's would have to go into round-the-clock production to meet the demand. And we know that since the recession hit, alcohol sales have skyrocketed.
We woke Wednesday morning to the news that "the most powerful aftershock yet struck Haiti on Wednesday, shaking more rubble from damaged buildings and sending screaming people running into the streets eight days after the country's capital was devastated by an apocalyptic quake," according to the Associated Press. "The magnitude-6.1 temblor was the largest of more than 40 significant aftershocks that have followed the Jan. 12 quake."
It's hard to fathom the fear that must have struck the people who ran screaming into the streets, the people who didn't have a house fall on them the first time, or who weren't trapped in the rubble for days, or who didn't spend the days after the first quake searching piles of decaying corpses for the bodies of their loved ones, or who didn't sit with family members, holding their hands as they died from their wounds because there is not enough medical attention to go around.
Those of us who are safe cannot imagine their fear. We send money, we send hope, we send prayers, but we are, essentially, helpless.
We also appear helpless to influence the course of our own government as innocent families are blown apart in Afghanistan. There, for unfathomable reasons, the American military is engaged in a war to prop up another corrupt dictatorship. (Our record in Haiti is less than stellar, too. In fact, the damage we're doing now in the Middle East - first to Iraq, now to Afghanistan - is very reminiscent of what we did in the last century to the Caribbean and Central America. Is the only difference that our interest has shifted from sugar to oil?)
Which sadly, leads me to thinking about President Barack Obama. A year ago yesterday, when he was sworn in, it seemed as if a huge burden had been lifted from our hearts. America was rejoining the nation of nations. Our country was finally accepting the reality that our planet was as fragile as peace itself, and that we must all join together to preserve them both. The Nobel Peace Prize spoke loudly about how other nations viewed this epoch-making election.
But Obama has been a huge disappointment. The health care reform he promised us? He ducked out of the fight and left it to a spineless, bought-and-paid-for Congress which dithered its way out of responsibility. In the end, it gave the insurance industry everything it asked for. The difference between Dick Cheney inviting the oil, coal, gas and nuclear power industries into the White House to write America's energy policy and this embarrassing debacle? Negligible.
Obama did nothing to advance the protection of the planet at Copenhagen. Instead of stopping our wars, he doubled down on them. Instead of creating new jobs, he created huge bonuses for the bank and investment executives.
Hope? Progress? People power?
The only real thing Obama has done has been to prevent something worse from happening -John McCain and Sarah Palin. I suppose we should be grateful to him for that.
We also woke Wednesday morning to the shocking news that so-called liberal Massachusetts has elected a known Republican tea-bagger to the senate seat which Teddy Kennedy held with such distinction for so many years.
Newcomer Scott Brown's avowed goal? To kill health care reform. If bodies could actually rotate in their graves, Kennedy's would be dizzy from the speed.
A lot can be said about Brown's mournful victory. We can blame the victim: Martha Coakley ran a lackluster campaign; she arrogantly believed that she was owed the seat just for winning the Democratic primary; the Democrats are fat and complacent; sexism is still a factor in Massachusetts politics.
Brown never even identified himself as a Republican. In fact, the ads that both Brown and Coakley ran were so vacuous, issue-free, hate-filled and angry that I wanted to bitch-slap the both of them. And throwing in a doe-eyed grieving widow at the end to play the Kennedy card - really!
Simply put, the issue is one that those of us on the left, as well as those of us on the right, must do something about. The issue is hatred.
"What the Bush Administration managed to do was create a country so divided, in such grand mistrust of each other, that we've fought a (relatively) bloodless Civil War all over again, without really knowing it," wrote Richard Lawson on Gawker.com. "We thought we'd climbed our way out from the Bush morass easily. And we thought terribly, terribly wrong. We've got one foot out of the quicksand, but just lost another inch on the other ankle."
Are we as helpless in the face of hatred as we are in the face of the fear from natural disasters or America's endless but profitable wars? Is there a therapy for this world of hurt? It's certainly not going to be chocolate ice cream and mindless entertainment.
What will heal us? I wish I knew.
AR Correspondent Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a freelance journalist. Reach her at email@example.com.