Reflections On July 4th
The diamond chips in my and my ex-wife's wedding ring may very well have cost someone in Sierra Leone an arm. The soy I eat comes from former forestland mowed down for agriculture. My drinking water isn't safe without filtration.
And yet we live in comparative luxury with the rest of the world. My friends from other countries - Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and others - have experienced poverty and persecution that we can barely imagine.
I don't know what to do. I have no answers. The only thing I can think of is to be kind to others, vote, write letters, contribute to causes. Is it enough?
"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."
Robert F. Kennedy