by Shanna Babilonia
In order to grow, we must change. All things, including people, nature, and even countries that choose not to change will inevitably suffer the results of their own inaction. Growth is a normal and necessary part of every spectrum of life and without growth, things cease to function.
In our country, there exist leaders who are completely out of sync with the growth happening amongst our nation. Many of these leaders insist on regressing to a previous time in our history and stopping the growth already taking place. These leaders are not in sync with those they are leading or with the changes our society is experiencing.
Here are 10 ways many of our leaders are out of sync with Americans:
We have all heard some of our leaders as well as their supporters talk about the good old days. In their perspective, at some point in our nation’s history, there apparently, was a better time. A time when things were seemingly perfect and aligned with what a nation should experience. But, when exactly was this time? Was it when women stayed at home with their children and had very little choice to follow a career of their choosing? Was it when segregation was rampant and acceptable? Was it when slavery was legal and expected? Perhaps it was when prayers were spoken allowed in schools by educational staff, forcing children of other faiths to feel ostracized for not wanting to participate. Or, maybe it was when women had less access to medical and reproductive choices that could save their lives and give them the opportunity to make mature and financially responsible decisions about family planning. Maybe, it was when a hate crime was not considered a hate crime and those who choose to cast hatred upon others were able to do so without much consequence to their actions. Was it before we had labor laws to help workers? Was it when being bullied at school was a normal part of growing up?
When was this time when things were perfect? Please, those of us who understand that progress is an ongoing process would really like to know. Perhaps if our leaders could explain to us when this time occurred, why it was perfect and why we need to regress back to that time, we would be better equipped to accept the regression.
The erroneous and harmful push to restrict women’s reproductive rights is a dangerous venture, not only for politicians who do not seem to realize that most women want access to birth control and family planning resources – it’s also horribly detrimental to women’s health. Family planning and contraceptive use is not only responsible for individual and economic financial health, but it is an absolute necessity for those women who use contraceptives for other reasons, including some very real life-threatening reasons
The truth is – we all came from somewhere else. Our ancestors did not magically appear on this continent. At some point in time, we were immigrants too – a fact often dismissed. Although there should absolutely be some restrictions and policies to keep violent and known criminals out of our boarders, the majority of people who come to this nation come here with the intent to procure a better and more enriching life for themselves and their families. So long as they are contributing to society in a positive manor and attempting to pursue a better life, should we not care for the betterment of our fellow human beings?
Many immigrants come to this nation to escape the horrid experiences of their mother nation. Would we not attempt to do the same for ourselves, for our children – for our children’s children, if we were to experience an intolerable situation here? Is that not exactly what our forefathers did by coming here and escaping the tyranny they experienced in their home country?
The laws and policies many of our politicians are attempt to create seek to completely abandon our humanity towards others seeking refuge and the possibility for an improved life. Those policies should be more directed towards establishing guidelines to help them improve their lives in an effective and positive way that creates new productive members of our society.
Some of our leaders have successfully convinced their constituents that social aid programs only cater to dead-beats and lazy Americans who don’t want to work. While there certainly are some people who negatively take advantage of social aid programs, this should not deter us as a people from helping care for those in a time of need. With the high cost of earning an education, inflation without wage increases, a huge population of baby boomers entering retirement, should we not expect that some people will experience financial hardships? What if we were to experience hardship and lose everything? What if there was no assistance for us if a health crisis or job loss thrust us into an unexpected financial situation? Would we not want to live in a society where we help one another? It’s easy to cast opinions, until we are the one standing in those tattered shoes.
Certainly, our social aid programs can be reformed to better equip those receiving assistance in achieving higher education, job training, financial education and job placement – however, many of our leaders are taking a less effective approach by restricting the diets of those receiving food stamps (banning certain purchases) and attempting to turn impoverished individuals and families into subhuman degenerates. These frivolous tactics do not help resolve the underlying issues of poverty – they only seek to punish the poor for being poor and create deep division between the “haves, and have nots”.
If we really want to change the way social aid programs affect tax payers who help those in need by their contributions, we must spend less time crying about what we think to be true about those in need, and more time discovering ways to help them grow as individuals. This is the proper and civilized way of treating our fellow human beings.
Every American is well aware of the fact that the cost of nearly everything in our society has exponentially increased over the years. Yet, our minimum wage lay stagnant. This has created a precarious situation for many Americans who are no longer able to afford some of the most basic necessities – such as groceries to feed their family. Many of our leaders insist that raising the minimum wage will hurt our economy, but this could not be further from the truth. When people have more money to spend, they spend (and save) more money. When people spend more money, businesses make more profits and if the businesses make more profits, they can afford to pay their employees a little more. The majority of business owners support wage increases as they are well aware that wage increases reduce turnover, increases employee productivity and pump more into the economy, boosting their own customer base when more patrons have more to spend on their services and products.
Our country is far behind in education – not only in the knowledge we gain in our studies, but in the cost we must pay to gain that knowledge. Many countries offer education as a necessary part of their economic growth and do so without the high cost of privatized institutions that force millions of students into a lifetime of debt. Yet, many of our leaders are not concerned with the lagging state of our educational system and the economic hardship many Americans experience simply by attempting to gain a formal education. We need leaders that understand and are committed to reorganizing our educational system in a more productive and cost effective way. We have already implemented affordable health care, is it not time for us to catch up with much of the rest of the developed world and increase affordable access to higher education for our country’s citizens? Would this not benefit our nation and increase our educational standing in the world by making education more affordable?
Our world has been and will continue to become increasingly more scientifically and technologically advanced, yet some of our leaders are attempting to slow this progress by implementing policies and strategies based on their personal opinions and beliefs rather than on facts. This is extremely harmful to the progression of our understanding and advancement in this world as it leaves us greatly diminished in our capacity to compete with other nations who take a more appropriate educational stance on science and technology.
With each generation, we are becoming more aware of and reliant on the sciences and technologies that we have discovered. The knowledge we have gained will never go away, it will only change and increase as we learn more. Some of our leaders seek to keep this knowledge oppressed by restricting our understanding and inserting disingenuous information into our educational system. We need leaders that are progressive leaders who support our intellectual growth.
Many of our leaders are engaged in a strong debate over whether global warming is a reality, or fiction. But, this debate is a pointless discussion, because whether global warming is true, or not, taking care of our only home – earth – should always be a priority for all of us. Instead of debating whether global warming is true – or not – our leaders should be working on ways to improve the environment and find ways to care for our planet in the most clean and efficient way possible. Instead, valuable time and resources are being wasted on debating the issue rather than doing something to improve our world. We need leaders that care about people, and the world in which those people live, and are willing to make changes that will positively affect the health of people and the planet by making clean choices for our environments. No debate needed, just common sense!
Let’s get real about this subject. People have been having sex in and out of marital relationships for as long as human beings have existed. This is never going to change and is a very natural part of life and bringing life into this world. Many of our leaders work tirelessly to control the sexual behavior of people by instituting educational programs that insist on abstinence as opposed to safe and responsible sexual education. These programs are not helping and are not realistic to human behavior. In fact, preventing people from understanding how to conduct their sexual lives in a safe way is a health hazard and creates ignorance about responsible sexual relationships. These programs cause countless people (especially young people) to enter adulthood ill-equipped for the sexual activity that will inevitably become a part of their lives. We need leaders who seek to educate people rather than control people when it pertains to sexual behavior. Sex is never going to stop being a part of life for most of us and it’s time some of our leaders understand that truth.
For those of us who understand the oppression theocracies place upon their citizens, the push to create a religious state is a horrifying thought. A simple research of modern and past theocracies easily reflects the hardships and anguishes those living under religious rule experience in a society. Yet, many of our leaders and their followers insist that this is exactly what is needed in our country. This could not be more untrue. Establishing a state religion in this country is not only unconstitutional, there is a very profound reason our forefathers set out to restrict this from ever happening when they established this country – they understood and experienced the harm it can cause.
If you would not desire to be forced to practice or observe the religious convictions of others, you must understand that others deserve the same respect. Public institutions are not a place to enforce the beliefs of some on everyone else.
Religious freedom is for all – not just a select few or a majority who share a common belief. Religious freedom was a concept set in place to prevent our society from oppressing others through a set belief structure that not everyone shares. Everyone should be free to practice their own beliefs, but this does not mean that that practice should be forced on others by creating laws that force others to practice in direct opposition to their own inner convictions. Religious freedom means simply this – you are free to practice your beliefs in private and in any social setting you choose – but you are NOT free to institute laws that force others to publicly practice these beliefs along with you. What is public should always remain secular, so that all are free and no one is oppressed by the beliefs of others.
There are many issues Americans are facing today and we need progressive leaders who will bring growth and evolvement to our nation. As our leaders begin their campaigns to lead our country as our next president, it is important that we are wise in our selection and choose a leader whose agenda most closely reflects the developing ideas of our country and the policies needed to improve our lives and global standing. Choose to live happy. Choose to support leaders who are in sync with their country’s citizens and the growth potential of their society.
Shanna Babilonia wrote essays on her blog that is no longer available. She has graciously allowed me to reprint some of her posts on The Faithless Feminist.
The Forgotten Nones: The High Cost of Fleeing Fundamentalist Religion
Speaking my Mind
Anti-Women Cults Established in the Name of Religion
What if You’re Wrong?
Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith – and for Freedom