Are we better off today?
In last week's "Letters to the Editor," Elizabeth Nelson posed the question, Are you better off now than you were two years ago?" Mrs. Nelson's train of thought was focused on employment and the economy as she offered her opinion that we are better off.
Yet I would challenge that assumption, not on the grounds of employment and the economy (which are always subject to several different factors and interpretations) but on the grounds of morality, ethics and common decency. Are we truly better off today than we were two years ago?
In the past two years we have witnessed a presidential administration guilty of bad behavior, immorality and eroding ethical standards unlike any I've have seen in my lifetime.
We have a Commander-in-Chief who was caught on video bragging about inappropriate behavior towards women, and one who openly admits to paying hush money to cover up his extra marital affairs.This is a president who resorts to name-calling towards his critics and detractors, has shown little regard for facts and truth, and often lies publicly, without shame or apology. This is a president who is unwilling to speak out against the beliefs and actions of the Klu Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi groups, and has shown prejudice towards other races, cultures, countries and religions.
This man in the White House continues to alienate our global friends and allies, yet plays up to foreign powers that clearly seek to divide us. This leader has lost the respect of other crucial world leaders and has abdicated American leadership on global issues. A number of our president's friends and cabinet members have confessed to crimes and some have already been convicted. Yet our Commander-in-Chief suggests he is above the law, challenges our Constitution, and sows the seeds of division and disunity between our political parties.
For people of faith (regardless of our religion or our denomination) the issues now at stake go far beyond our economy and employment figures. Regardless of whether we are Republicans or Democrats, the scenario that has unfolded in Washington in the past two years leaves us disappointed, disillusioned, feeling betrayed and outraged. These are not behaviors we would want to instill in our children, and most of us would lose our jobs if we were guilty of even a portion of these words, actions or attitudes.
Accepting this new reality is not what makes America great. What has made America great these past 200-plus years has been our goodness and our striving to be better people and better as a country. How can we forsake these ideals now? How can people of faith make excuses for the crisis at hand with one scandal after another? How can this not erode the very moral fabric of our nation?
Jesus once posed the question, "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world ... yet to lose their soul?" It is an important question to ask, especially at a time like this in our history. Even if our economy and unemployment figures are looking good, are we willing to sacrifice our true American values, character, ethics, integrity, faith, and the Truth? History, and God, will not ultimately judge us on our prosperity, but on our core values and how we've lived them out.
As for me, no, we are certainly not better off than we were two years ago.
Climate change and 2018 elections
2018 is carrying with it a tide of unsettling news brought on by issues of climate change. What was once thought of as "once-in-a-century" storms visit northern Wisconsin with increased regularity. Fires decimate the forests of western United States and Canada with a rage difficult to tame, let alone extinguish, while frequent in the news are talks of flooding, drought, fires and record-breaking temperatures. Extreme is fast becoming the new normal as we enter the upcoming election season.
I suggest this November we put climate change on the ballot. Unique in this election are two things: climate change is worsening and voter turnout is on the rise. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill will be watching these November elections, and we need to show them that our voices are loud. When we support candidates who champion protecting the environment, we are setting the stage for future parties to adopt climate change into their platforms.
I have faith we can prioritize climate as an issue this fall. As a voter, elect those officials whose agendas respond to issues regarding climate, contact those in office not concerned, and engage with grassroots organizations like Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) whose mission it is to pass legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. After all, the decisions we make now decide our future.