Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

Nov. 8, 2004

Waverly Star: the final chapter

Now that Bush has been elected president for the next four years, I am quitting this column. This will be my final column.

For the past four years now, I have been a single issue person: the Republicans had to be defeated. I wanted to be able to look my grandchildren in the eye and tell them I did my best to stop this insanity, both in foreign policy and in domestic policy – if there ever was a policy in either case.

I am now a man without a country.

I can still pray, of course, but the only psalm that speaks to me right now is Psalm 137:

"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered you, O Zion.

"As for our harps, we hung them up on the trees in the midst of that land.

"How shall we sing the Lord's song upon an alien soil."

I am also writing a letter to President Bush. Of course, he won't read it, and neither will any of the mail openers at the White House, but perhaps my readers will read my letter to Mr. Bush.

Before 2000, I told people not to vote for Bush because he would get us into a war. How right I was! I think I have some credibility.

Dear Mr. President

Nov. 3, 2004

Dear Mr. President,

It is my grandchildren I worry about.

What you have done to this country in the last four years leaves me at a loss for words. I think the next four years are going to be even worse, given your behavior and the behavior of your cabinet.

Appealing to you to change won't help. You are, by your own admission, a stubborn man, a man who will never admit a mistake or change course.

I am not among those who think you are a liar. How would I know? I can't read your mind. I have no reason to believe that you really don't believe it is better to enrich the rich than to worry about the less fortunate.

I watched you invade Iraq without any qualms about killing indiscriminately. Some estimates have it that over 100,000 Iraqis have died since the invasion, many killed by our bombs.

I was raised to believe that an Iraqi life was every bit as precious as an American life. You must believe the human race is not one human race, but a human race divided up between good people and evil people. I have never believed this.

I learned this not only in a religious context, but by having the privilege of knowing a variety of people: black, white, rich, poor, people on welfare, gays, bright people, mentally handicapped people, women who felt they had no choice except to abort their babies because they didn't see how they could raise them with no resources such as day care, affordable housing or good jobs.

I have visited people in prison, and I have corresponded with people on death row. I have never met any of the evil people you discuss so freely.

I have traveled abroad, something you never did until you became president. I have had to live with the knowledge that I knew more than you did, a first for me because I never thought that of any president, Republican or Democrat.

If I had time alone with you, I would ask you whatever made you think you had the background to be president.

I am not angry at you. How could I be? I don't even know you. I am angry at all the people I know who voted for you, people who should have known better.

I was raised in the hope that I could move from saying "they" to saying "we" during my lifetime. I started out saying "We Waverlyites," and moved on to say "We Minnesotans," and then "We Americans," until I was liberated enough to say "We human beings." I got to the point in my life where "they" didn't exist any more.

But they do now. "They" elected you. They are going to have to live with it.

I can face my grandchildren. People who voted for you will have a hard time explaining. It's hard for me to pity the people who voted for you. They asked for it.

This is not kind to you, I know, but it's nothing compared to what the historians will say about you.

Jim O'Leary

The radical

"The radical is that unique person who actually believes what he says.

He is that person to whom the common good is the greatest personal value. He is that person who genuinely and completely believes in humankind.

The radical is so completely identified with humankind that he personally shares the pain, the injustices, and the sufferings of all his fellow humans.

For the radical, the bell tolls unceasingly, and every man's struggle is his fight."

- Saul Alinsky, "Rules for Radicals"

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