Where Do We Go From Here?
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
By: Joseph Cione *
Last March 27, I celebrated the 60th anniversary of my arrival in the United States, and on the 31st of the same month I was delighted to celebrate my 55th year as citizen. Today, as it was then, I can say proudly and loudly that I am privileged to be a citizen of this generous, noble and marvelous land, where people from every part of the world have continually come in search of a better life.
In the last 60 years I have seen many elected presidents come and go. Some were great; most of them were good and a few turned out to be unworthy of the honor or plain incompetent. Presently, the United States of America is under the spell of its 41st president : George W. Bush, who has been occupying the White House for the last six years, going on seven. During this time, Mr. Bush has chosen to carry out his many duties and responsibilities tightly wrapped within a thick cloud of partisan secrecy and a stubborn attachment to personal beliefs often expressed with a tinge of Texan sarcasm and a conspicuous disdain for the rules of the English grammar.
But that’s the least of Mr. Bush’s problems. His main problem is the quality of his character. So far, he has shown to be a bullheaded individual who does not seem to have any difficulty manipulating the truth to his advantage. He also seems to believe that the meaning of justice is totally dependent on a particular success that one wishes to achieve. In other words, if it works, the aim must be “just”. For Mr. Bush, justice has a physical, palpable component that has very little to do with moral consciousness. Perhaps, the facts listed below will describe Mr. Bush’s character traits more clearly than I could:
1. The number of dead American soldiers in Iraq is increasing each month. They’ll be 4,000 by the end of the year. The wounded soldiers are over 20,000, half of whom are permanently disabled. The casualties among the people of Iraq are said to be over 50,000 dead and many more wounded. This number includes innocent men, women and children. Iraq’s infrastructure has been severely damaged, and the life of its citizens adversely affected.
2. As far as the military victory that Mr. Bush has been stubbornly adamant about and still is, no one believes it anymore. The lies that Mr. Bush and his friends have continually disseminated during the last several years have seemingly begun to come home to roost. A number of Mr. Bush’s staunch friends and allies have moved away from their servile allegiance to their leader and have begun to adopt a more independent posture on the subject of the Iraq war. Some of them who aspire to the 2008 presidential election have begun to criticize publicly Mr. Bush’s stubborn stance and illogical points of view.
3. Mr. Bush after the “victory” of the year 2000 presidential election declared that he would use all his energy to unite the country. ”I would be a ‘uniter’”- he said. He proceeded to achieve the opposite. Our country, in fact, has never been more disunited than it is today. Since when have we had a Red America and a Blue America? I don’t recall any other president who has had the gall to say publicly: “If you are not with me you are against me?” I remember very vividly, during my life in Italy, that Benito Mussolini used the same expression to remind us of his dictatorial rights. What’s Bush’s excuse? Is it possible that in the midst of his mental confusion, Mr. Bush has completely forgotten that we are a free and democratic country?
4.Those in the Federal Bureaus who are responsible for the health of the United States’ economy, are presently saying that the economy is in good shape, the inflation is minimal and the number of those out of work is manageable. Meanwhile the U.S foreign rate deficit has reached billions of dollars as thousands of jobs are being out-sourced regularly. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. In fact, Mr. Bush, as soon as he became president, got hold of the billions in surplus money he had received from the outgoing Clinton administration, and without hesitation, he distributed, as a tax deduction, 80% of it to 15% of the population–those who earned more than $ 200,000 a year, the billionaires, the steady contributors and the generous friends. The 85% of the population, on the other hand, had to be satisfied with the remaining 20% of the surplus. Meanwhile, in the Congress, the Republican members made sure that the minimum hourly wage of $ 5.25 would never be increased. Thanks to the Democrats’ majority in Congress, the minimum hourly wage was recently increased to $ 7.25.
The National Debt has risen to approximately eight trillions. The Consumer Debt (credit cards and car loans) has hit a record $ 2.6 trillion. A gallon of gasoline costs now more that $ 3.00. Mr. Bush does not seem to worry about it. He and his friends are getting richer by the hour. Ask the EXXON’s CEO about the company’s profits. It couldn’t be any better.
5. Ever since Mr. Bush, with the blessings of his cronies, Cheney and Rumfeld, decided to thumb his nose at the United Nations organization and all its members, the word “arrogant” became a label that the rest of the world loved to staple on the forehead of Mr. Bush and the country that he represents. Mr. Bush told the whole world that he decided to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had WMDs and was ready to use them against the U.S.. As we all know today, Bush had lied through his teeth. Then, when it became evident to him that the WMD fable was no longer believable and acceptable as a valid excuse for the invasion, Mr. Bush and his cronies changed the tune. The invasion was necessary, they began to blare away for all to hear, because Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator who had abused his own people, and therefore he deserved to be taken out by force.
That part of the world, Mr Bush figured, needed to change its way of life, century- old traditions, culture, laws and, perhaps, even the dress code. Why not? A reasonable dose of our present a-la-Bush- kind of freedom and democracy could give the Iraqi’s all they need to succeed in the modern world. Let’s face it, we, the United States of America, have lost face, lots of face, not only with the world in general but even with our friends!
Then came Guantanamo, where the word “torture” started to surface at home as well as overseas. Americans engage in torture? Then came the case of the notorious Iraqi prison Abu Graib, with plenty of photos to boot. “Yes, the Americans are torturers!” shouted all those who saw them. Mr. Bush, however, and the rest of his comrades did not seem to be too affected by the avalanche of negative comments received. Yes, America and all the Americans came out of that barbarous mess diminished, severely diminished. To all those who cared, it was like watching the fathers and mothers of all the tortured men throw stones into the Articles of our Constitution. Perhaps, the Statue of Liberty in the New York bay might have felt ashamed and its light might have dimmed a bit when the news of the tortures became known. It might be dimmed still.
6. It is a widely perceived fact that Mr. Bush is a devout, practicing Christian. He has publicly declared that he is a “born-again Christian”. His favorite role model is Jesus Christ. He prays every day. The famous journalist Bob Woodward, who wrote Mr. Bush’s biography, writes that before the invasion took place, he (Woodward) asked Mr. Bush if he had asked his father for some advice about the imminent invasion of Iraq. The answer he received was something like this: ” I don’t ask my earthly father for any advice on the matter. I only take the advice of my Heavenly Father. He has already informed me that I am doing the right thing.”
It must be assumed that Mr. Bush reads the Bible, particularly The New Testament, and most of all what Jesus preached before his death on the cross. I repeat, Jesus Christ was and presumably still is Mr. Bush’s role model of all that is righteous, honorable and moral. Let us not mince words at this point. Mr. Bush’s use of violence against another nation, his addiction to lying, his stubborn attitude over personally-held convictions, his lack of understanding of what is the true meaning of truth and justice and his lack of compassion for those who suffer make of him an enemy of Jesus Christ, a hypocrite, a Pharisee, one of those who two thousand years ago betrayed Jesus, a God/Man whose life was dedicated to the daily practice of brotherly love, truth and justice.
So, really, where do we go from here?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE:
*Joseph Cione is an educator and author and this is his first—hopefully of many—contributions to Democratswrite.com.
Born in Sicily, Joseph grew up during Fascism’s “golden era” and lived in Palermo Sicily during World War II. Together with his mother and 100 other emigrants, he arrived at New York Harbor on March 27, 1947. He became an American citizen in 1953.
Mr. Cione received his Masters Degree (in French Language and Literature) from Hunter College in New York and was bestowed a minor degree in Spanish at NYU. Joseph taught Italian, French and Spanish for 27 years in New York between 1962 and 1983. In 1968 he was the only teacher from NY State chosen to attend the intense course of studies hosted by the renown Institut National des Sciences Appliquees in France.
In 1983, Joseph retired from teaching and began his career as a writer. Since then,
he has authored four books: SICILY ON MY MIND, (Subtitled: “Echoes of Fascism and World War II”) , YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE, GRAINS OF SANDS AND MURMURS OF THE SEA ( Poems and Essays) and RICORDI DI SICILIA (Translation into Italian of Sicily on My Mind), most of which are available through Amazon.com and other on-line sources.
Joseph presently lives in Apex, North Carolina with his wife of 57 years (Sara) and of all his “accomplishments” in his adoptive country, he values most his family, which in addition to Sara includes six thriving children and 18 grand-children.
It is an honor for me (because Joe is a personal friend) , on behalf of DW to thank Joseph Cione for this wonderful expression of intelligent circumspection and insight and to extend to him our sincere invitation and request to grace us in the future with more of the same, as we struggle along with him to “go on from here’.