Saturday, October 27, 2012

On the eve of the 2012 Election

Soon, the commercials will be off the television, and hopefully some of the self-righteousness of those most assured of the rightness of their opinions will dissipate, as well. This has been an election almost singularly focused on jobs, on the economy. Boiled down to its core, this has been an election about money, which seems to be all many care much about these days. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to convey this, how to push back on this notion that the only job of government is to enhance personal wealth, and as I was rereading Mark Kurlansky's great work, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, I stumbled once again upon one of my favorite passages related to this topic. I hope that you might enjoy this as much as I do, it is perhaps especially relevant as we head to the polls in 2012.   

"We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads. It includes the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children. 

And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. 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. The Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom or our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America, except whether we are proud to be Americans."

Robert F. Kennedy 1968 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You expressed wonderful sentiments!