One Year of Supposed Change- Letter to President Obama
Author: Nicole Loschke
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 01/26/2010
After watching a movie based on one man who, for one reason or the other, held the last countable vote in a tied presidential election, I began to reflect on the democratic system created within the U.S.. The man who held the last vote was an uneducated, single father from a very small rural town called Texaco, New Mexico. This man was motivated to learn about the political system, understand the needs of citizens and cast an educated vote based mostly on a debate between the two candidates in which the man asked questions from letters he had received from ordinary people. He was asked from a former military man with two children, two jobs and a wife working two jobs as well, “… could you ask the presidential candidates that if the U.S. is the richest country in the world, why can’t most of us afford to live here?”
I began to think about my mom who has recently been asked to retire from the School District after 28 years as a secretary. I think about my father who now lives four hours East of my mother so he can work for his nephew after one year of unemployment amongst a dying natural gas industry. I think about this oil and natural gas industry, the articles I read about the abundance of oil in various countries. I think about the amount of countries the U.S. has military bases in and the amount of countries which the U.S. has war in. I remember several reports, researchers, professors, politicians and industry men explaining the abundance of natural gas and oil lying within U.S. soil. I wonder how after one year the small town of Parachute, Colorado can reduce the amount of operating “rigs” by an amount close to 80. I wonder what the thousands of employees will now do in the valley they relocated to only one year before while soldiers are dying abroad for this same resource. I think about Jorge from Colombia and Gordan from Georgia who are living in my basement, thousands of miles away from their families, how these two men have done the same as my father; moved away from loved ones in order to secure a ‘comfortable life-style.’ I wonder how comfortable they are sleeping in my parent’s basement.
My mother has worked at least two jobs her entire life. At present, she is a full-time school secretary, a part time secretary for a water truck company, she manages every aspect of a rental business my parents created a year and a half ago, she takes care of my 86 year-old grandmother, she has two bulldogs and two foreign men living in her basement. I wonder what my mom has worked so hard for.
I now think about myself. I have around 40,000 dollars in debt because of my “higher-education.” I live in a wooden house with no telephone, on-and-off water and electricity and an infestation of tropical bugs. But I am relatively happy. In fact, I live in a country that was ranked the “happiest country in the world” last year (whether I agree with this designation is beside the point): Costa Rica. Rich coast is of course its literal translation. I live in a city translated to Columbus City.
Now I think of my ancestors. I identify very much with my Native American heritage. I think about being of Native American decent and living in a city named after Columbus. Then I again think about my mother.
Why is it that she has worked so very hard her entire life; sacrificing her health, her hobbies, her friends, her dreams, all to be a mother and create a happy environment? Why is it that she worked so hard and yet I know she is so sad every night? Why is it that she did everything in her power so that her children would be able to create a “better” lifestyle for themselves; one with more education and more life experiences? If this was always her reason for working so hard, why do I still have thousands of dollars in debt and with a protein deficiency, I just can’t afford meat?
Why did my grandfather (of Native American descent) serve in the military during World War II, work on the railroads during the expansion of the West, excavate and mine the precious metals of the Rocky Mountains, including Uranium?
What exactly are we sacrificing for? The American Dream? What dream? I dream of leaving the country. I dream of a world where the U.S. never existed; a world where Columbus never sailed, independence and sovereignty was never given precedence; a world where monetary funds didn’t exist, where trade only happened between direct neighbors who spoke to each other daily; a world where people work only to occupy their spare time; a world where families sit together sharing their daily experiences and reflections; a world where people live to enjoy life.
I wonder when Obama said “Yes we can,” what exactly we have done? We have catalyzed the destruction of all forces natural and man-made; we have destroyed our natural environment and beings of our own genetic make-up; we have limited the capacity of each individual to live freely and independently from outside influence; and we have created a world guided by the speed of technology rather than the quality of human interaction.
We can destroy, kill, modify, restrain and devalue.
We can discriminate, polarize, control, suppress, oppress, divide, conquer, steal, rape, torture and lie.
And while we as a world collectively do all this to each other, we can completely ignore our own actions.
I would like to ask the president a question as well.
Why am I from a country once known as the “land of milk and honey,” a country where millions of people flee to in order to improve their livelihoods, a country known throughout the world as one based on democracy and ensuring individual freedoms, a country with an abundance of resources and man-power, a country with the capacity to lead the world to a peaceful coexistence…Why, if I am from this “utopia” of a country, why do I despise going back to visit even if just for one day? Why, every time I hear the TV broadcasts, read the news or hear political updates about this great country I hang my head in shame? Why did my Native American grandfather tell me to know that I am Native, but never tell anyone else? Why am I ashamed to claim this heritage amongst other indigenous people? Why are the only factors separating me from people living in poverty man-made or imaginary lines known as national borders?
When you, Mr. President, chanted with millions of people “Yes we can!” What did you have in mind? Why is it that you, much older, experienced and educated than I have this string of hope; while I, with only 22 years of life have given up?
I am the future of the U.S. sir, but I have chosen to not participate in the future of my country. I have chosen to remove myself from the geographical space once called home. I have chosen to work at an institution that strives only for ideals. I have lost all hope for a world without war. I have lost all hope in the country my ancestors once sacrificed their lives for. I have never had the desire to have children, as I do not wish for them to grow in a world where thousands of people are starving, dying and being raped every day.
Mr. President, why has the future of the U.S. given up before even starting?
I am not trying to get your sympathy, for I am a very privileged person who has been granted many opportunities. I am surrounded with people who genuinely care about my well-being. I laugh more than I speak usually. And every day I am speechless, surrounded with the world’s natural beauty I find in nature and human interaction.
Why is it that I, among millions of others, only desire to live a peaceful life; respecting each other, sharing with and supporting one another; a tranquil life where each day the blessings of life rise and fall with each passing moon? Why is it that if most people will agree that this life is the ultimate goal, why are the people put in power to ensure this right fighting more than the one’s they’re supposedly protecting?
If imaginary lines continue to hold the most importance for each global decision, world politics may as well be a board game. If world leaders continue to classify people based on the stamp on their passport, a piece of paper declared legal by a man in a colored suit and a top-hat, human beings may as well be livestock herded, traded, butchered and eaten for personal consumption.
What exactly can we do Mr. President, if the world-wide organizations, the agencies designed to ensure democracy and freedom, if the entire political system is all controlled by threats; if these institutions won’t even listen to what the President of the most powerful country in the world thinks, what do you expect us do to? When people have been marginalized and their power restricted by borders, legalities and guns; what ability do you leave them?
Please Mr. President, please restore my faith in humanity. Please make me believe again that I am not just a pawn in some rich person’s game. Please be honest about the use and power of private industry and business in our consumeristic, capitalistic country. Please stop hiding behind false accusations and a false quest for democracy. Please, Mr. President, let us begin the movement away from a world which is dictated by securing imaginary borders and freedoms.
The world paradigm must change. Obviously, amongst the financial crisis, natural disasters, war and famine, the current system isn’t working. Why are we still pretending that it could?
Treat world politics as if you truly would be affected by the life-altering decisions you are making for others… and then convince the rest of the gentlemen and women you’re sitting around to do the same.
Bio: Nicole Loschke is currently the Assistant Editor of the Peace and Conflict Monitor. She is a recent graduate of the UN Mandated University for Peace, with her Master’s Degree in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies.