By Robert M. Katzman © February,13 2012 (almost) Valentine’s Day
313,000,000 people in the United States.
159,000,000 are women.
Like there was an ovary lottery, the women won it and then the women lost everything else.
Mystifies me. Maybe thousands of years ago, men had the armies and slaughtered each other, and then one day realized that women could make more people and the men became terrified. No stopping them, the men must have realized, so…better watch them closely. Keep them under control.
Eons later, the women still are.
Paid less than men, run a few national companies, have a small number of seats in the United States Congress, 93 out of 535 seats, or 17.4%.
Now that…is a minority.
Senators: (17 out of 100) – 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans
Representatives: (76 out of 435) — 48 Democrats and 28 Republicans
So, 60 of the 93 women are Democrats, or almost 65% of the 17.4%, or 11% of the entire Congress.
Numbers can be a lot of fun, especially to someone who failed algebra in June, 1965, not that I remember that poisonous moment or anything like that. Or the teacher’s name: Miss Eason. Or that I had to take it again.
My mother, Anne, would have been 91 today, the day before Valentine’s Day, which always annoyed her.
She was born in 1921, the year after women first were awarded the vote by Congress in 1920. Given that she was born in Chicago under the steel umbrella of the Democratic Machine, it is likely my mother voted that year and every year after that in local elections—the straight Democratic ticket, of course—decades before she was legally permitted to do so in 1942. In Chicago politics, this would be considered a fine point of contention.
That her dead Eastern European relatives probably ALSO voted in all those elections may have been a bigger deal, if anyone felt it was something important to bring up. Never heard it discussed after I showed up in 1950.
As the grandson of two women, Celia & Rose, the son of Anne, the brother of Bonnie, the husband of Joy, the father of Lisa, Rachel, Sarah, the father-in-law of Nicole, the grandfather of Emjay and Natalia, and the nephew of Adele, Estelle, Mollie and Sylvia, the following is my Valentine’s Day bouquet to all fifteen of them:
Half the Congress should be women, and most of the Supreme Court. It shouldn’t be that Barak Obama was elected president despite lingering American racial prejudice, was so historically significant.
But that if his wife Michelle were elected, now that would really be something.
If she were running for President, this is what I (even though merely a man) think she believes:
That all people are valuable to their country, that their country cares whether they live or die, not based on whether or not they can afford top quality health care. That access to medicine and surgery, when needed, is a right and not a privilege for the well being of all citizens.
That this country intends for all its children to be both literate and informed, having equal access to education, a contemporary means to communicate and that their access to information is not limited by those who can afford to buy newspaper companies or TV and radio stations.
Basic computers are no longer a luxury for only those who can afford them. If the child’s parents cannot afford a tool considered as essential today as a pencil, should that unjust status trap the child as well as the parents? Will America be stronger without their uneducated child? Exactly, whose children do matter?
Our real ”national wealth” is in their minds.
That an individual’s ability to vote will not be impeded by a surrounding area’s dominant population, one’s complexion, religion, gender or choice of relationships. America should proudly protect an individual’s right to be–if necessary–a single dissenting voice.
That though my own minority may be just twenty out of a thousand—and we are less than twenty out of a thousand—we are no less part of this country than those who are many millions. There are groups that are smaller still than my own, and I, too, have an obligation to seek their right to be heard, and protected.
That no one group’s religion may dominate another’s. That a smaller group’s right to distinct philosophical beliefs will be protected by the majorities, because it is right to do that and because most philosophies were once obscure and persecuted, like Judeo-Christian beliefs, for example, were once upon a time.
More recently, imagine a Mormon even dreaming about running for national office? There are less than six million of them in the United States, or at 2%, about the same number as the Jews. Do I support Romney? Not in the least, but I’m proud I live in a country where 98% of the people see nothing special about his choosing to run for President. Think about it.
It’s not really about the 1%. Its about the tolerance of the 99%. In that context, this ardent liberal Jew strongly supports that periodically conservative Republican Mormon’s right to be heard.
That a woman being (at least) equal to a man in all ways, valued by our country and our government, have complete control over her body, what happens to it, her protection from disease, especially diseases unique to women, and whether to have, or not have, a child. This is not religion. It is a human right.
Not done yet with health care.
I have this evidently strange notion that one of the major social accomplishments of evolving human civilization is the acceptance of the willing collective care of some of the members of society upon whom physical misfortune has fallen. Random illness not brought on by self-destructive reasons, for purposes of what follows.
So that though some person may, for example, be a self-taught carpenter among other skills, as well as determined, inner-driven, ambitious and cautious about matters physical, yet despite those presumed to be admirable qualities still manages to develop cancer, a collapsed lung and then brain surgery. If that person is unable to pay for medical or surgical care, should society allow such a person to simply die?
Should he be left out on a prairie somewhere, alone, to be eaten by wolves, as was practiced by some older more primitive tribes in centuries past? Will this create a stronger more cohesive contemporary society? Will this encourage mutual trust among all levels of people that “we’re all in this…together”?
I know such a person. I know such a person very well. Who decides the worth of this person? Who needs him more, the country or the wolves?
If any (or many) of my readers say to themselves, possibly with a smirk:
To me that means we are all wolves and no longer deserving of an embracing country. Then we are all out there on that prairie, again. When that happens, if that happens, a curious person would be hard-pressed to find anyone wearing a smirk.
Finally, that while all crimes as defined by law may be despised, and that all whom are accused ought to be provided a competent and informed defense regardless of their ability to pay for such protection, some crimes—against children, women and societal minorities—be considered at least as repugnant to my country as treason and murder.
What crimes a country deems as socially acceptable defines that country to the world.
A national government that chooses as a priority to protect those among us least able to protect themselves also tells each town, each city, each state and all countries in the world that in The United States of America, an individual still matters.
And that, to me, more than all the exploding weapons in our arsenal, makes my country a very dangerous country for some malignant outside force to attack. Why?
Because there would be millions and millions of us, “all in…whatever-the-hell-may-come…together ”.
Last night, my wonderful wife of 34 years this week (February 19, 1978) was upset that I was both doing something she didn’t want me to do, and was not doing something she did want me to do, at the same time and that I be smart enough to figure both of them out.
Oh I try, Joyce, I really do.
Happy Anniversary to you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, too, to my Aunts Adele and Estelle, daughters (and in-law) Lisa, Rachel, Sarah and Nicole and my granddaughters Natalia and Emjay.
And to all the rest of you: my other aunts, my grandmas, my mother and my sister, Bonnie (where are you, Bonnie?), Rest in Peace.
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