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When neighbors suffer — illness, fire, loss of home or job — we come together. Caring is bipartisan. But it’s important to understand root causes for suffering: poverty, violence, poor schools, toxic environments, racism, sexism. The touted tax “reform,” cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy, deepened disparity in income, creating enormous debt which Republicans use as “reason” to cut/privatize earned safety nets: Social Security and Medicare. Removing regulations helped corporations but hurt citizens, allowing unrestrained consumer fraud, unrelieved student debt, poisoning of air, water. Each “once in a century” “catastrophic” hurricane, flood, wild fire, drought is melting glaciers, record heat. Florida’s governor wants Floridians safe but silenced mention of climate change in government reports. Trump distributed water in Florida and paper towels in Puerto Rico, but his climate denial, pulling out of the Paris Accord, removing regulations decreasing emissions, allowing drilling everywhere — willful ignorance of what 98 percent of scientists, all nations, and UN Environmental report of terrifying consequences of not acting — is criminal.

Care/kindness reflect values, but can we extend caring beyond “me” and “America first” to justice for all? Mueller is investigating Russian interference in elections, but a greater enemy of democracy is within America: our president demeaning women, African Americans, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, refugees, the press, science; rousing crowds to laughter, hatred, violence; Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, enabling unlimited dark money from huge corporations (fossil fuels, armaments, pharmaceuticals) to poison elections, and gutting the Voting Rights Act, allowing states to impose restrictions on voting: closing voting places, removing people from voting roles, gerrymandering. There’s no voter “fraud” but hundreds of thousands are deprived of one person/one vote essential to democracy.

It’s good to care, but not good to blind ourselves to greed, power, hatred, ignorance, injustice threatening democracy and earth.

Bernice Mennis, West Fort Ann

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