AN ESSAY ON ELECTION ATMOSPHERE AND ANGER
Oh, I know all that...but if you live among the very simple cultures as I have in Africa in Togo, and even on trips in Nigeria, I saw as so many Peace Corps Volunteers saw, and remembered for their lives...that simplicity, elegance, community, politeness, cooperation, sharing, giving, respect, tolerance, and unity all abound in each culture. When a Peace Corps Volunteer returns home, the cultural shock on returning is often worse than that experienced arriving in "the bush." Canadian Volunteers returned from service in Africa and ran a campsite for us during Expo '67. They were headed back to Africa because they missed these qualities in the children in Canada in their classrooms. Obviously, I returned in 1975 to work in Nigeria after having had my first breakdown in 1966. I, too, missed the beauty of the people of West Africa as I do today. I am in touch each day with volunteers there now, helping with their programs and listening to their tales as they discover the truths and beauties of a simple but ancient culture. We were told when we arrived in Togo in our Togo Fisheries Program, "Don't just do something; stand there." In short, there is much we can learn from these cultures and much we can give...but be slow to advocate change without understanding what has taken place for thousands of years.
In our rural areas, the communities linger that foster these qualities, and people who recognize them understand their foundations, possibly even in foreign lands even on distant continents. We have had men from Mexico work here in painting the house, paving the driveway, installing gutters, and so on. With a bit of the Spanish that I have learned, some understanding of the history of their lands that I have studied and visited, but mainly with the understanding and respect for their native culture and community, when they leave at the end of the day we are brothers. Many of my co-workers at Wawa, as I coffee-hosted, would resent these quiet, respectful, subdued workers as they came in for coffee at the start of their day. But for me they were friends of great value and I loved the culture that was within them. To this day, every day, wherever I go, I find them with warm greetings, in the supermarket, at the post office, the gas station, the bank...because I took the time to treat them as brothers and fellow human beings...because the Peace Corps taught me to see and respect the beauty in all persons...not people just like me, of my economic, religious or political persuasion or of the same skin color, but all persons, truly with equality.
When our nation dives into politics every four years, and the papers are filled with scathing comments and criticisms...not comments that build but destroy...harmful for all children everywhere, I long for the beauty I have known. Every comment by every person at any time should be based on all the data he or she has at that time with no allegiance to a political party or previous religious conviction. Otherwise growth and cooperation is impossible. Ridicule, hate, money, and illegalities abound at this time. The media, as I have shown in the link, and even here in AOL highlights, screams for attention. Newspaper headlines and magazine covers and TV commentaries all cry for attention...and your money. And nothing of value is happening. Eliminate all presidents, vice-presidents, gods, political parties, partisan thinking, vetoes, aisles to be crossed, majority quotas, and let all people speak equally through their representatives or departmental officials. What do you have. Democracy as it was intended...and practiced in simpler worlds where people cared, and a stranger met you eye-to-eye with a smile wherever you went...and you were brothers, always.
If I choose not to vote for either candidate this election, it is because I know of a far finer solution.
"been there, done that" .... and it was wonderful Al
ELECTION DAY IN AMERCIA, NOVEMBER 4th, 2008
I just drove Dad up to the Birmingham Friend's Meeting, as always, and we voted. He, Republican, as always, the oldest voter in the Township. I originally wasn't going to vote at all but like Joe Pitts and Dominic Pileggi for Federal and State Senates, as they both have had continuing data on my International Center for the Arts and seem to be doing a good job. I voted for the water project for the township, knowing that whenever anything reaches the voting level, even the high school alterations, it is way overdue. I marked my decisions, took my slip-out paper face down to the nice lady at the tallying machine (who was begging not for free coffee but a hamburger) and personally slipped it in (it looks like a shredder). It read out on the screen the tallied spaces for her and she reported out loud so about six around me could hear: "You have left four votes unmarked, including the Presidential Electors!" I said, "I know," and she gave me my number and I left...as about six people looked up, knowing me, in disbelief. Talk about your secret ballot! So there you have it. WHATEVER happens in the next four years, as in the last, I had nothing to do with it. ZERO. My vote wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference last year, and probably won't this year. If the vote is close, I couldn't afford to have half the country, 150 million people, thinking I am a total fool and an enemy to all they believe and want their America to be. Dad votes for McCain, Dave for Obama, and I Pass. When you drive by the Webbers-On-The-Hill, remember that we are "a total wash" and have nothing to do with the government of this nation, and we each voted our conscience honestly, as instructed, encouraged, and championed. If McCain drops dead from physical strain during his four years in office, or a crazed sniper takes out our newly-elected first black president, I will, as will the nation, be totally saddened by the event...but I, at least, will know that I did my very best not to put him in harm's way. And the cost of guarding that president and all his family, and the annoyance, for their entire lives, at huge expense, was never my intent. You can fund the Inaugural Ball while I send calculators to Peace Corps Volunteers in Togo, Africa, to help my friends there with business development and pure capitalism the way it used to be when the nation was young and didn't piss away all its resources on three mailings a week. Go figure!
I remain proud...after a thousand tirades dining with Dave and Dad on the stupidity of presidents, vice presidents, vetoes, electoral colleges, religious persuasions, political parties, party lines, aisles in Congress, Majority leaders and votes...THIS remains the only way I could ever be true to myself and proud of America. Al
An Essay on Election Night 2008 by Alfred C. Webber, Jr., 66
I'm the only "true capitalist" in the extended Webber family who started and ran a small business in architecture and photography, Webber Studio, yet would have died as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of heart block a dozen times without Keystone Mercy, my only "insurance" provided by the State of Pennsylvania and Chester County through taxes of its citizens alone. Chester County hospital paid for all the medications during my three week stay. The total provided was about $100,000. Pure Socialized Medicine, pure socialism. I'm not proud that I didn't have my own coverage but a life of manic-depression, for which I was not to blame, forced me to be discharged from at least fifteen different architectural firms. Nevertheless, I helped to build schools, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, retirement communities, city halls, and more throughout five states and Nigeria. Not one firm ever offered any pension, IRA, or retirement benefit, yet were selected for the good they did for humanity. Unable to leave my Dad here at home for the last ten years, and unable to do the photography that I loved with a collapsed arch in my left foot, and now chronic Lyme Disease, I have been here by default when he has had four separate accidents that would have taken his life had I not been present...one, collapsed on the kitchen floor, required CPR to bring him back to life. Had I commuted to a job to earn a small income, my father would be dead. Now, with Social Security providing my only income, $650 a month, on which I could not survive in a single room, I have Medicare to cover my regular bi-polar medications, yet still have county assistance (socialism) for my mandatory bi-monthly meetings with my psychiatrist, and mandatory blood tests. I pay the co-pay on everything, taking half of my Social Security every month with about $800 this year for just Lyme-related MRI's and doctors.
Right now, I don't really have a point but just an observation. I come from an upper-middle-class-income family, with Dad's income from DuPont for my entire life. I owe him and DuPont and successful corporate capitalism for my comfort, college and support through lean times and continuing illness. I have dedicated my entire life to improving life for others and am proud of my work, yet with virtually no savings, no car, no home of my own, I am left with an uncertain future with a father at 101 who needs hourly attention. My last vacation was in 1988, and I have not been out of sight for ten years. I am thrilled to share these years with Dad and take him to his many activities but often am in nearly daily pain from both my leg and Lyme, keeping me in bed hours a day and leaving me frightened for my future and for Dad's. We have the home and his savings and investments but, as we all know, a major illness can consume everything quickly. I would love to be self-sufficient, do work I love, be near to Dad, and be free always from taxpayer's care...but I don't see it happening. I love to write, can work at a computer without pain, but publishing for the first time at 66 is a bit remote. Standing for a half-hour, even at a pharmacy waiting for a prescription, can produce unbearable pain. I cannot visualize my future, even walking from a room in West Chester to a grocery store seems impossible. Both the foot injury and the Lyme are for life; neither can be treated at this point.
My point: I come from a fine home and family, college-educated parents with all siblings going to college, my own taking six years, all paid for by Dad's income, all four of us in college at one time, no less. Yet I am partially dependent on welfare and socialized medicine now and have visions of far greater dependency in the future. My brother Dave, as well. It is noble to speak of Pure Capitalism and Total Self-Sufficiency and disdain for the Welfare State and the Free Ride, yet my plight is incredibly minor compared to so many Americans beset with great tragedy, flood, fire, storm, disease, homelessness. I seek truths in government and know the joy of making a dollar become two by the end of a day. Nevertheless, sixty-five million Americans don't have health care, and the private system in place is inefficient for all physicians and staff. Education, housing, public transportation, and career opportunities are sub-standard, or absent, for many. I don't know where America may be headed in the future, but if we must avoid the realities of Americans in trouble, adherence to a particular political party or a political social system with blindness to reality could well be the ultimate downfall of any and all efforts for reform and growth.
Alfred C. Webber, Jr. Election Night, 2008 Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, USA