I had set as my intention- and project- for this week to paint and
update the spare bedroom in my house. The walls had long been
dingy and still bore many marks from the previous residents who
had occupied these premises more than twelve years ago. High time,
I thought, to turn this room into something more welcoming...and
so I bought the paint, did the wall prep (filling in the numerous
nail holes, dings, etc.), moved and covered the furniture, and set
about the task, a little at a time.
If you have ever undertaken a painting task, you know that it
involves cutting in- by brush- around the edges: along the ceiling,
the baseboards, and in the case of my lovely old home, along
the crown molding, windows, and four doors. (two closets, an
attic, and the door into the room.) Then came the rolling...the
prestidigitation of turning dingy walls into fresh, bright, clean
ones. Last came the woodwork- which you might already realize
is considerable in this admittedly small room- perhaps 12 X 12-
(I am terrible at guesstimating sizes), a task which took long
hours but was, in the end, totally worth the effort.
And on Thursday afternoon, I stood back, looked at the results
of my efforts, smiled broadly, and then began the arduous task
of re-ordering the room with fresh linens, a new comforter, new
curtains, and a re-arrangement of some of the furnishings. By
yesterday afternoon, I was gratifyingly satisfied with the results,
trusting that my friend, Mae- visiting from Florida this coming
week- will be, too.
To keep me company as I painted, I had my radio tuned to
the local NPR station and I listened, with increasing dismay,
to the on-going saga of our non-working Congress...to the
excuses and accusations and ugly rhetoric which were being
bandied about in our nation's capitol regarding the debt
ceiling and government shut-down. All the while, human
beings, my- and their- fellow citizens, were having to get
by without paychecks, without jobs to go to, without any
certainty that these elected officials- yes, we put them in
office- were ever going to put aside petty political posturings,
roll up their sleeves, and get to work in our behalf, in behalf
of the country and electorate they purport to be serving.
Now, I am seventy-one years old...in my early aging years,
I like to believe...and I have been dealing with a muscular
hip problem this summer which causes a good deal of pain,
especially when I do things like kneel and bend over and
climb ladders and lift and move things...all of which I was
doing this past week, because I had a task set before me
which I was determined to accomplish.
So, why, dear gentlemen and ladies (though mostly gentlemen,
still) of Congress, why, oh, why, were you so seemingly
unwilling to JUST DO IT! Why all the posturing and posing,
when all the while you knew that permitting our nation to
default on its debts would just not be permissible. This is
what you are elected and PAID to do. That's right- even in
the midst of the government shutdown, when employees
of the Federal government were being furloughed and
going without pay, our elected officials were still being paid!
And, dear fellow citizens, when are we going to wise up?
When are we going to demand- you heard me, DEMAND
that these people to whom we have given so much power and
status do their jobs? work at what they are supposed to do?
When will we DEMAND that they change the laws and statutes
which grant them their pensions for life? their health care
programs for life? When will we DEMAND election finance
reform in a voice loud enough to echo even in the hallowed
halls of the Supreme Court? And when will we DEMAND term
limits be instituted? Why not make these the "litmus test"
issues for election to office, rather than the petty little
non-issues which have so effectively turned our attentions
away from what really, truly matters in the political arena?
Well, my spare room looks lovely, with all of my hard work
totally worth the discomfort to my hip. After all, an ice pack
and some Ibuprofen took care of that. And we finally did
get the agreement in Congress to extend the debt ceiling
and end the shutdown- at least until January. So I guess
we, the citizenry, can all go back to our everyday lives
with the feeling that all is right with the world. Except it
isn't...and we'll be on this nasty political merry-go-round
again before we know it, unless we acknowledge our own
role in the process, unless we admit that the gold ring
is simply brass and no amount of hocus-pocus will make
it anything other than what it is.
So let me ask a few hard questions: When did you last
write to or call your congressperson and/or senator to
express your feelings- be they indignant or congratulatory-
to him or her? Do you vote in the mid-term elections or
just exercise your franchise in the "major" elections? If we
truly want this country to BE "the land of the free", it is
up to us- YOU AND ME- to keep it that way...by expecting,
by DEMANDING, that the people WE put into office live
up to their word and their sacred honor by working for us!
Have a lovely day.