November 19, 2004

Commentary

Moral Values? Please

By Ernie McCray

I remember the moment I first heard the words “George Bush” and “moral values” spoken in the same sentence. I had to laugh to keep from crying. I mean, please. If you journeyed through that man’s soul you’d find Waldo long before you found anything approaching a “moral value.” For sure you wouldn’t find one that matched any of mine.

Like, for instance, he turns his back to gay people’s cries for full equality when he  could play a major role in setting them free. I could never be such a “compassionate conservative” because I was taught to love and respect all of God’s children at my mother’s knee. Standing in the way of someone striving to be free would never even occur to me.

Bush swaggers about, holding his “religious beliefs” as “mandates” high above the other “truths” in the world. But my grandfather, a wise and well traveled man, used to always say to me: “Boy, there’s a lot of ways to look at almost anything.” Amen. I heard you, Granddaddy.

I have to ask: What “religious beliefs” would prompt someone to ignore the environment, to ambush civil and human rights, to shamelessly give tax breaks to the “haves” and “have mores” and send us the bill?  In my value system corruption is a sin - especially in a high place like Capitol Hill.

And where are the “moral values” in, say, destroying a town like Falluja, causing its citizens to flee far and wide across the Iraq countryside? And what about the Fallujans who were left behind with practically no food or water, praying that they don’t fall and die in the crossfire between warriors? Will we ever be forgiven for putting the “City of Mosques” in such peril?

Man, oh, man, oh, man. Just think how many less bake sales we’d have to have at our grossly underfunded “No Child Left Behind” schools here at home if we had access to a fraction of the loot it must cost to create carnage in a land faraway.

And isn’t it a bit interesting that the slaughter in Falluja was postponed to after the election? Could it be that since it’s not against this administration’s “moral values” to lie and deceive, that they didn’t want us to know just how disastrous a situation our fighting men and women would find themselves in? Maybe they were quiet because they didn’t want to take a chance on us, we the people, having some “moral values” that might make us change our minds about a national issue or two.” Huh?

But I’m not so sure they have to worry about us considering that we haven’t felt compelled, as a society, at large, to speak out forcefully against this “holy” war which supposedly was designed to set a people free.

Along these lines, how can we dare talk about creating a democracy in the Middle East when we don’t seem to appreciate our own democracy, instead treating it like its a lounge show in Vegas, a little something for us to take or leave as we please? And besides we’ve already done about as much as we can in helping Iraq form a democracy.

Now, I’m not talking about abandoning Iraq. No, indeed. Far from it. We are morally bound to help Iraqis in as many humanitarian ways as possible as they create a free world. They will need a shoulder to cry on, a world of people to rely on. But they have to go about it on their own and in their own way. It’s now time for their “moral values,” outlooks and philosophies that have been cultivated and nourished for centuries upon centuries, to come into play.

And, in that regard, if we regular citizens have any respect at all for the Iraqi people’s dignity, we would demand that our troops, our sons and daughters, be brought home right away so they can get their revolution underway. That’s what a loving and caring America citizenry with good sound life affirming “moral values” would do. That’s what a troubled world needs us to do.

Ernie McCray is a retired San Diego City Schools principal.

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