The Flint, MI Tragedy Or When Human Lives Matter Little

I first heard about the Flint, MI water issues early this past fall, on Tumblr of all places. After investigating it a little online, I reblogged the initial post to spread awareness a little, but mostly I just kept an eye on it from time to time because raising Internet awareness often seems a fruitless task, and there seemed to already be many warriors in the fray on this one. When the mainstream media finally broke with the story, when the government finally admitted to there being a problem, they were showing photos and clips from months before as “breaking news”. How much extra irreparable harm was done because of the delayed reaction and attempt at cover-up on the parts of those groups? I’ll post the link to the Wikipedia article on it, as it seems to give the broadest overview without a particular slant (difficult to find these days).

It is appalling that this situation has happened and that it’s all over water, one of the very essential things to life. Water, I might add, that was being paid for by the citizens, that is STILL being paid for by the citizens, toxins and all. Not a government handout, though one could argue that clean, potable water is a human right and not a luxury. Especially in a nation that many who live in it still cling to the notion of being “the greatest on Earth”, which is laughable if you look at any statistical comparisons.

People have taken to using this situation as an opportunity to take potshots at opposing political sides, which is not helpful to the situation at all and ignores the bigger issue here. We have a population that realized relatively soon that the water was unsafe to drink and it took them way too long to get the situation even acknowledged, let alone begun to be addressed. We have a population essentially trapped where they are now, as they are unable to sell their property and required to still be paying their water bills. We have proof of how much power and control we as citizens have in our current corporate oligarchy we live in, and the answer is “not very much”. This should be raising alarm bells across the country, and it isn’t. This could happen anywhere, whether because of deliberate destruction or greed or gross negligence.  It has happened in the past, with different agricultural and industrial communities. It will happen again in the future. But this is maybe the first time that we can clearly see how far things can go against us as citizens of the United States. And if normal, every day people like me can see it, so can those that are really in control.

I have seen suggestions that perhaps our government is simply too inept to run public works like water supply, and that maybe we should privatize water and allow independent businesses to take over. To that I simply post this link with information to the gas leak currently happening in SoCal. And the thought of companies like CocaCola/Nestle and Pepsi handling our water supply is terrifying. Water traded on the open market in barrels, like oil, isn’t a distant dystopian fiction but a potential reality and one that I don’t want any part of. Privatization isn’t going to fix anything. Holding everyone responsible in these situations that are responsible will. Raising a population that is educated and morally (not religiously but truly morally) upright will. Bowing down a little less before the almighty dollar will. And people willing to get a little more angry about their rights and freedoms and safety being compromised and a little less angry about their favorite sports team losing may just help a little bit too.

I try to live each day with hope for the future. But I always have kept in the back of my mind the question of “what would be the tipping point for us as Americans to really get off our butts and restructure the way our nation is run and our lives?” If lack of potable drinking, and being required to pay for the toxic water offered in it’s place, isn’t enough to mobilize our citizens, what is? I truly wonder. Are there too many people asleep now? Too many complacent cogs in the machine? I don’t know. I truly hope not.

American Hypocrisy and the Death of Nelson Mandela

From the top of the US government down to random postings on Facebook and Twitter, it seems that many people in the United States are marking the death of Nelson Mandela.  As we should be.  The man did so much to further human rights and equality.  He lived an exceptional life, one that should be celebrated and honored.  But not in a ten second reblog or inspirational quote.

We have, here in the United States, so much social injustice in the lives around us.  Race, class, gender, sexual preference, education… any chance we get to create an “Us vs. Them” mentality, we seem to take it.  Racism now is often insidious, as in the online criticism raised over casting a black man as the role of a smart scientist in Catching Fire.  But it also still exists blatantly out in the open, like Wisconsin’s incarceration rates.  So, it seems to me, everyone that is marking the death of Nelson Mandela needs to really keep in mind how far we still have to go in our own backyards to even begin to show the level of respect that should be shown to this man.

John Boehner is quoted as saying this: “Nelson Mandela was an unrelenting voice for democracy and his ‘long walk to freedom’ showed an enduring faith in God and respect for human dignity. His perseverance in fighting the apartheid system will continue to inspire future generations. Mandela led his countrymen through times of epic change with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president. He passes this world as a champion of peace and racial harmony. I send condolences to the Mandela family and to the people of South Africa.”  The mind boggles, that such a man could say this with a straight face!

I’m meandering a bit, which I am apt to do when I get passionate.  I just feel such a growing disgust.

In memory of Nelson Mandela, examine your daily life for the social injustices that are right next to you.  Study your heart for any prejudices that you may carry, some buried so deep you can’t even see them except out of the corner of your eye.  And speak out when it is necessary.  A man spent his entire life fighting to make a better world. Surely we can manage a few minutes every day doing the same.