Yesterday, July 27,2017, I posted a lengthy status update on my Facebook page. It concluded with these words:
For me, today is a day of both culmination and commencement. These two actions placed two too many straws on the back of the camel – the camel’s back is broken.
But it is also a day of commencement for me as I begin a renewed and stronger time of resistance. It is a day when I once again contemplate the actions that I am called to follow – both in Texas as well as in the nation.
Some will advise that I should not isolate myself in this manner. I am not able to pursue in any other approach at this time. I will repost my return to normal when, and if, this time of crisis is past. I hope you will thoughtfully read the blog posts that I publish, and I invite you to offer your comments to those posts.
Thank you all for your patience. I covet your prayers and I pray with confidence that God will hear the prayers of all people.
For the foreseeable future this blog will be filled with my words, with the words of writers I respect and enjoy – writers who also provide inspiration and guidance, and comments from readers of this blog who would like to join in conversation. It is my intention to add a new post at least every other day. I hope that you will take the time to read thoughtfully and, if you desire, replay with your own thoughts.
Today I begin with the words of one of my favorite writers – Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Sorry your son’s real sick but … tough’
BY LEONARD PITTS, JR.
June 27, 2017 8:20 PM
He called it a lesson in “How Republicans are born.”
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, was on Twitter Sunday, recounting how his 8-year-old “has been saving up to buy her first Guitar. Found it for $35. She had 35 exact. Then … sales tax.”
If he could, one suspects Norquist would have accompanied the last two words with scary music. Say, the shark theme from “Jaws” or the shower music from “Psycho.”
“Everybody run! It’s … it’s … the sales tax!”
The twitterverse, as you might expect, was only too happy to point out the obvious to Norquist and his traumatized daughter. Namely, that the tax on her guitar — that princely $2 and change — helps pay for the road over which the guitar traveled to the store. And the police who defend the store from being robbed. And the firefighters who respond if it catches fire. And, in whole or in part, the school where Norquist’s daughter learned to count to 35 in the first place.
But at risk of piling on, there is another point that bears making here, a simple and obvious one that tends to get lost in the GOP’s loud acrimony toward this government surcharge. Namely, that we pay taxes as an investment in the common good. It’s a prosaic, unlovely little ritual which is nevertheless more patriotic — and certainly more substantive — than fireworks on the Fourth of July.
That’s not to say it’s fun. Sacrifice seldom is. Nor is this an endorsement of wasteful government spending. To the degree Republicans or anybody else oppose that, no sensible person can disagree.
But as Norquist’s tweet suggests, the contention of many Republicans is not that over-taxing is bad, but that all taxing is bad. And that amounts to a retreat from the very idea of a common good. Exhibit A: the party’s latest proposal to overhaul healthcare, and the “Let ’em eat cake responses” to the idea that 22 million people will be be deprived of coverage in order to finance tax breaks for the very wealthy.
For example, Vice President Mike Pence touted this as a new system based on “personal responsibility.” He did not specify what failure of “personal responsibility” he finds in people with disabilities who won’t be able to get treatment under the Republican plan.
Kellyanne Conway opined that those who lose their Medicaid “can always get jobs.”
Which will doubtless surprise many low-income workers who depend on it. They thought they already had jobs, albeit jobs that don’t offer health insurance.
A woman on Twitter asked what will happen to her son “born at 26 weeks with a serious heart condition.” Another woman replied: “Sorry about your son, but what would he have done 200 years ago things are much better but nothing is promised to anyone.”
“Sorry about your son.”
There is something chilling about that dismissal, something deeply selfish and antithetical to a nation founded upon an ideal of individual human worth. One is reminded of a Springsteen song: “We Take Care of Our Own.”
But do we still believe that? Or are we now a nation where we only take care of ourselves?
“Sorry about your son?!”
No. That’s not good enough.
We pay taxes, fund libraries, schools, fire and police departments and, yes, healthcare, so that her son and all our sons and daughters have the best possible shot at the best possible life. At some point, you have to grow up and realize that you are not in this world only to gratify yourself, that each of us has an obligation to all of us, and that this is where our goodness — and thus, our greatness — resides.
That’s how Americans are born.
About Leonard Pitts, Jr.
In a career spanning more than 35 years, Leonard Pitts, Jr. has been a columnist, a college professor, a radio producer and a lecturer. But if you ask him to define himself, he will invariably choose one word. He is a writer, period, author of one of the most popular newspaper columns in the country and of a series of critically-acclaimed books, including his latest, a novel called Freeman. And his lifelong devotion to the art and craft of words has yielded stellar results, chief among them the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
But that is only the capstone of a career filled with prizes for literary excellence. In 1997, Pitts took first place for commentary in division four (newspapers with a circulation of over 300,000) in the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors’ Ninth Annual Writing Awards competition. He is a three-time recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Award of Excellence, and was chosen NABJ’s 2008 Journalist of the Year. Pitts is a five-time recipient of the Atlantic City Press Club’s National Headliners Award and a seven-time recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Award.
In 2001, he received the American Society of Newspaper Editors prestigious ASNE Award for Commentary Writing and was named Feature of the Year – Columnist by Editor and Publisher magazine. In 2002, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists awarded Pitts its inaugural Columnist of the Year award. In 2002 and in 2009, GLAAD Media awarded Pitts the Outstanding Newspaper Columnist award. In 2008, he received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Old Dominion University.
Twice each week, millions of newspaper readers around the country seek out his rich and uncommonly resonant voice. In a word, he connects with them. Nowhere was this demonstrated more forcefully than in the response to his initial column on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Pitts’ column, “We’ll Go Forward From This Moment,” an angry and defiant open letter to the terrorists, circulated the globe via the Internet. It generated upwards of 30,000 emails, and has since been set to music, reprinted in poster form, read on television by Regis Philbin and quoted by Congressman Richard Gephardt as part of the Democratic Party’s weekly radio address.
Leonard Pitts was born and raised in Southern California. He was awarded a degree in English from the University of Southern California at the age of 19, having entered school at 15 on a special honors program. Since 1995, he has lived in Bowie, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC with his wife and family.
From Meet Leonard Pitts, Jr. <http://www.leonardpittsjr.com/Biography.html>