For every benefit that a people enjoys, Someone has Always paid a price. In S. Africa it was Nelson Mandela and many other African and mixed race people, many of whom lost teir lives. In the U.S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton, Medger Evers and Malcom X, depending on your point of view. Many men and women (nearly all African Americans) were beaten and jailed.
In Native America N. and S., it has Been Anna Mae Aquash, Leonard Peltier, and the parents of Rigoberta Menchu. In many places it is tribes like the Tunica and Houma peoples of Louisiana who have not received recognition, and thus No Federal Help.
Among blind people those who paid for my civil rights are the piano tuners, chair caners, and basket weavers and beggars of the 1940's. Among deaf-blind people it was Helen Keller, who mastered ten Differing systems of Braille and literally read in an unheated house until her fingers Bled. She convinced Congress to standardize American Braille, And helped push for the establishment of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which has a branch in each state, delivering via mail Braille, large print, and recorded, " talking books" to print disabled people. When an organization for the blind refused to pay her and Annie Sullivan a decent salary they said Forget It, and joined a circus.
In recent times we have had pioneers like Mr. Richard Kenney, former president of the Hadley School for the Blind, educating people around the world via Braille, large print, and taped materials, in correspondence courses ranging from poetry to computer skills. And there is Robert J. Smithdas, of the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth and Adults.
If I have misspelled any of these names I offer my honest apology. I cannot know how to spell a name which I haven't read in Braille.
It seems to me that there is a fundamenal difference between those who pay the price for the advancement of themselves and their people and those who are asked by our Government to pay or risk paying the ultimate price, their lives, for a political goal.
The Dalai Lama is Very careful when talking of the Chinese Government's politics to Differentiate Between the Chinese People and their Government.
In the same way, I respect our service men and women. But I do Not always agree with what our Government asks them to do.
My uncle was among those who payed a heavy price to teach the American public to Differentiate between returning Vietnam veterans and the Government which sent them to war. He was from California. And when he returned from three tours of duty in Vietnam people spat on him, shrieked at him, calling him a "baby killer" and much more. He felt completely betrayed by his own people. And it was many veterans of the Vietnam War who gave All of us the Americans with Disabilities Act. I thank you and am Sorry you suffered so Much!
The reasons service men and women sign up to join the military are honorable. They may want a college education to better the lives of themselves and their families. This is a Commendable goal. They may want to protect our country from attacks like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. This is Also a Commendable goal. So I have no quarrel with our returning service men and women. I think they are Entitled to the best medical or mental health care we can provide. They are also Entitled to our respect!
But I did and still do disagree with the Government's decision to send troops into Iraq in the first place. I have always thought that our Government was heavily influenced by multi-national corporations to engage in that war. Iraq has the second largest amount of oil under its land, after Saudi Arabia. And companies which provide everything from "security" for American personnel to military hardware and armaments have done Extremely well in business during the war in Iraq.
Yes, Saddam Hussein was a despot who gassed his own people, there is No Way in which I can condone that. But We, as a nation, cannot Afford the loss of life of service men and women and the civilian casualties caused by going after every Despot who won't do what our Government and its corporate partners want! That is why I am Also against our intervention in Libya. They too have oil, by the way.
On a personal level, those paying the prices of disability and death in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, are doing so for honorable reasons. But I distrust the reasons of corporations to whom the deaths of our service people and the civilians of other countries mean little, and our Government which I think listens to Those corporate interests Far Too Often.
It is again, honorable Americans who are paying a price, along with Non-combatant civilians, but who are they paying it For this time?