Monday, September 01, 2008

Educating Izzy and the children in Afghanistan: Books and Bombs Analogy

The following thoughts were born in writing to my brother in law, Chris, on the Borgmann Family blog. I am interested in how our US tax dollars are allocated, in what I perceive as a culture of fear, and a government who works from this deficit model. I'm tired of the fear. I want to see leaders that work from a transformed place of consciousness. The information on our military spending, vs. dollars on education is staggering. This link to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provided by my cousin Jennie is very informative:

Presently, the Bush Administration is spending:
$70 billion in education vs. $480 billion in defense.

Based on this, the ratio of guns/ bombs/ tanks we are buying for our children is 6.857 - almost 7 to every 1 book/ or educational/ creative toy we purchase for their growth/ development. 7 Bombs for every 1 book. This is how we spend our tax dollars.

How do you all like that message?

Another way to really weigh this information, Chris, is as Izzy's father:
You are roughly purchasing 7 guns or tanks or bombs for your daughter, to every 1 book.

You are saying,
"Izzy, grow, learn, don't fight, be a good girl, play nice."
All the while, your backyard is stockpiled with machinery and she sees daddy training for how to kill others, in the name of her growth and defense.

What is the strongest teacher here? Your words to "play nice and read a book and grow and be smart"? Or her daddy's example of buying things that do the opposite of playing nice and kill the neighbors that don't agree with her? Or who are angry because they are hungry, or have a lot lot less.

The Bush Administration did not start this trend. We did, as American people. And we perpetuate it through our fear. We have the power to change it, to change how we invest in people here, beginning with our children here, and modeling this for all abroad.

Wise governance, wise leadership, revolutionary and inspiring LEADERSHIP would do well to challenge this investment in weaponry, this allocation of resources, and truly look at the root causes of violence and terror in this world. Terror comes when humanity is not honored, hunger is rampant, basic needs are not met, and it seems violence may be the only solution.
The terrorists of 9/11 were not oil wealthy/ hoarding middle easterners living in Iraq. They were starving young men, whose poor families saw a way to put food in their bellies - by sending them to madrassas -- where they received an education steeped in gross indoctrination and also: fear and hatred of the United States. (What inspired Osama Bin Laden? Who is that man? Who are we?)

You want to combat terror? Educate. Lead. Feed. Inspire. Yes. Start by leading, and putting dollars to educate your own people. rather than building more bombs and arming more people in defense. This is called teaching by example, honoring strengths, gifts, not cowering to the lowest denominator of fear and weaknesses.

Izzy is at the center of this, just as the child in the hills in Afghanistan who wants some bread and a book to read, or a classroom to sit in and a teacher to teach him or her critically, not just memorize more hate speech and warring action.

Izzy can benefit from seeing rich examples of love and critical inquiry and compassion, right? So can those children in Afghanistan -- and around the globe.

1 comment:

Chris Johnson said...

I guess the simple response is that we wouldn't have to build weapons if there weren't so many people who had plans on harming us! A great deal of our spending is due in large part to the reduction in military spending that occurred during the Clinton administration. We talked about a $200 billion surplus in the Clinton federal budget the other day. If that money had been spent on our military and prevented 9/11, would it be money well spent? Clinton had 6 years from the time of the first attack by Al Quaida (World Trade Center 1993) on an American target to try and catch Osama bin Laden. Not only did he not do it, he didn't make it a priority, and Al Quaida attacked at least 2 other times (August 1998 - US Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya; October 2000 - USS Cole). That is not to downplay Bush's inability to go after him either. Our government didn't get the job done. And we're still not getting the job done. We have way more business to take care of in Afghanistan than we did in Iraq. But we are where we are right now, and we can't just leave. If people want to hold John McCain accountable for George Bush's errors, then add the other 300+ congressmen (Democrats included) who approved going to war with Iraq. They were all wrong. I agree 100% that the first thing the new administration needs to do is establish a higher level of diplomacy, and better foreign relations across the board. But just like going from gas to electric cars, peace doesn't happen over night. It probably won't happen over the next President's term, or two terms. But I want to know that my government is taking the appropriate steps to protect me and my family, so I don't have to worry about people carrying machine guns in OUR streets. And so that Izzy can buy HER children books, and read to them. That's not fear speaking. It's rational thought! Yes I think we're spending too much. There's definitely room for change in that area. But I'm glad we're spending SOMETHING! My "fear" is that Obama would so greatly reduce our military spending that we would become a vulnerable nation again. It's a high priority of mine, as a taxpayer, that our government doesn't allow that to happen. Do I wish it cost less? Of course I do. Do I think it's a higher priority than education? Not at all. I've always believed that better education is probably the single most effective step towards lower crime, less poverty, lower teenage pregnancy, lower health care costs, and would foster young minds to help develop answers to the questions of the next generation. But all of that is useless if we aren't safe and free. I really think we need to find a middle ground, between where we are right now, and where Barrack Obama intends to take us. But if I had to pick one extreme or the other, I'm happier with where we are right now.

Omaha, Nebraska