Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Does Anything Really Make A Difference Anymore?

One of the network channels offers a weekly news item on their program dedicated to persons who are making a difference in our sometimes-discouraging world of affairs.  This effort to show bright spots in what is often a shadowy world of indifference and self-centeredness is certainly needed.  When one news story after another can make one feel that there is little reason to be hopeful, little cause for celebrating our apparent successes, it is not difficult to understand why so many people are angry, disillusioned or just plain don’t care anymore!

I find myself slipping into that mood at times.  After the tragic years of the Bush/Cheney administration and the long-lasting destruction caused by their narrow-minded aggressive tendencies, it will be generations before we overcome the devastating effects of their so-called leadership.  Today, we need only look at the ruining of the environment in the Gulf of Mexico, the loss of livelihood of family businesses built over generations, the death of untold numbers of fish, fowl, mammals and other life forms to realize that our country (its politicians and business leaders) have abandoned the principles that made this country what it was on its way to becoming.  I say on its way to becoming because we had only begun to realize the limitless capacity of our citizens to invent, build and deploy imaginative ideas and products for the benefit of humankind.

I am not a Tea Party person nor am I a sympathizer with most of what I see them display through their thoughtless accusations and actions. Really, some of these people must be from another planet!  That we as a nation have come to the point where our mutual anger and frustration has taken on the psuedo leadership of dropout dysfunctionaries as Sarah Palin and the discredited John McCain only shows how far from understanding our democracy and its founding documents we have come.

I cannot even begin to put into words my disgust about the priorities our Congressional members have determined to be important.  What I can say is that they are clearly based on greed and avarice. The money that controls our representatives and senators has become so much a part of their function that they can in no way continue to represent the people.  They clearly are in bed with their financiers.  Look at the literal bed-hopping of the Minerals Management Agency office in Denver, responsible for granting licenses and policing the oil companies.  And, again, look at the Gulf disaster. It is government policy and lack of enforcement of big business that has largely been responsible for the chaos we are currently facing.

Even in the face of these catastrophes the Republicans maintain their belief that business does not need regulation.  It needs to be left free to market action.  This belief that business will self-control is an impossible dream when the unimaginable amounts of money to be gained are on the table, up for grabs for those who don’t give a damn about people or country! Don’t begin to disregard my comments as simply the rant of an unhappy Democrat.  I am NOT a Democrat either.  Neither of the two parties offers policies or purposes that are compatible with my own. 

What I am in favor of is the real grass roots efforts of those who are free of party dictates.  I believe wholesale change in government is necessary—Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.  Consistent with this concept is my belief in the need for a Constitutional Convention, the purpose of which is to re-evaluate the relationship of that document to the desires and priorities of we the people.  The world we live in is a vastly different world than that of our forefathers.  Just as any business with an operational procedures manual must regularly update that document so that it represents current priorities and policies, so must our government review and update our Constitution where necessary.  It may not require any changes, but just reading it again should be a benefit.  I recently picked up a copy and read it thoroughly.  I keep it handy for when stupidity raises its ugly head so I can remind myself of what our founders really said, not what someone thought was in there.

The difficulty of bringing about change in our country today was clearly demonstrated following the last election.  A majority of people said they believed in the change Obama promised.  Unfortunately, we forgot that no one has the power to change anything where government is concerned.  I fully supported Obama and I was also swept up in the belief that here was a person who could really get it done!  Well, he couldn’t and he didn’t. Maybe his staff isn’t as good at managing government as it was in managing a campaign. It certainly does not help that the Republicans simply decided to withdraw from any role in governing.  Saying “No” was all they had to do to stop change in its tracks.  And of course we all know the Democrats are the original “bad news bears” whose way to handle differences of opinion is to form a circular firing squad.  OMG, is this not clearly apparent to the general public?  I guess not.  And because I see no real powerful leadership, I am deeply concerned.  I probably will not be around when the pillars of democracy tumble, as they surely will if nothing changes. 

So, why should I care?  Does anything really make a difference any more?  I have to find my own answer to this question, as each of you who have continued to read this far along in this essay will have to do. It is not my nature to be negative. However, I am so totally disgusted with the apparent hopelessness of the situation that I just do not have an answer.  I write.  That is something I know a little about.  I wish I were able to be eloquent enough, with opportunities sufficient to command an audience, that together we could begin to make the difference that will bring the true light of individual responsibility and strength of character to lead that is needed.

I am not going to give up.  I think I will have to give up listening to the news, however. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The State of Excitement!

When I arose Saturday morning the sun was bright, the sky was blue and everything seemed all right with the world! May was the third wettest month since 1998 and we had the lowest average high temperature on record. Taking that into consideration, it was time to fly the coop! After my morning coffee ritual I headed to the mountains, Detroit Lake and McKenzie Pass along the branches of the Santiam River. OMG this is a great state!

You cannot really avoid taking the freeway for parts of the trip—getting to and getting from the mountains. But once you head east from Interstate Hwy 5 you quickly know why you love traveling in Oregon.

Detroit dam was completed in 1953—the year I graduated from high school for heaven’s sake---by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam created 400 foot (122 m) deep Detroit Lake, more than 9 miles (14 km) long with 32 miles (51 km) of shoreline. Following around the lake and heading south, I stopped at a little restaurant at Marion Forks for lunch. Several years ago on a similar trip I had stopped there and had a great meal. On that visit much of Oregon was in a wildfire zone and we were actually told we might have to evacuate the restaurant immediately if the warning came from the Forest Service. Turns out the restaurant survived. It is now under new ownership, but the food was still very good, plus the hummingbirds put on quite a show outside the windows at the feeders.

You rise to an elevation of about 4000 feet on this loop trip. In the beginning you do not realize that you are climbing to that elevation, but after connecting with Highway 20 and heading west the road weaved down through the gorgeous mountain passes for miles before coming out at Sweet Home to the flatlands of the Willamette Valley. Then to the freeway again, heading north toward home. How great it is to live in this state of excitement! Actually, the Oregon State motto is: “She Flies with Her Own Wings” and was adopted by the 1987 Legislature as the state motto.

I hope you enjoy a few of the photos taken along the way. Check them out here.