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Thursday, March 16, 2006

UNREMARKABLE PEOPLE

I am filled up and maxed out with the whiners, finger pointers, blame throwers, and professional victims who are featured on the daily newscasts, and in most of the print media. So many of the people we have put in positions of responsibility and authority have failed to live up to our expectations, and seem to diminish further even as we watch. At a time of national need, in the wake of Katrina and all that she wrought, we seem to have found an amazing number of unremarkable people.

We seem to have become a nation where no one takes responsibility for their own actions, anything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault, every tragedy is the result of some misguided policy, and scoring political points for your party is more important than the welfare of our fellow citizens. The flood waters in New Orleans were still rising when those who should know better began hurling unfounded and wildly inaccurate accusations at anyone they could think of, rather than offering substantive assistance. Charges of racism, political payback, and deliberate malfeasance were flying while our fellow citizens were clinging to life on rooftops. Excuses for looters taking appliances, guns, and jewelry were being made while residents in three states were wilting under extreme heat, with no water to drink. While children were looking for their parents, politicians were calling for inquiries, or demanding resignations. The only person thus far who has not been criticized in the very able General Honore. I suspect, from what I have seen of him, that no one has the guts to launch any spurious comments at the good General. He seems more than capable of correcting anyone who casts aspersions on him.

I don’t have the skills, or frankly, the energy of youth, to assist directly in any of the storm ravaged areas; so I do what I can. I make monetary donations to those agencies that I know will use the money wisely, to help those most in need. I pray, both for those already lost, and for those who will need so much in the coming months. I support my state and church efforts to supply the basic needs to those in the affected areas, as well as relocation, job and educational assistance to keep their lives moving forward. I thank God that we have so many brave people who are willing to put themselves in dangerous conditions to make heroic efforts to help their fellow citizens. And I am proud when I see the efforts of the people of Houston, and so many other areas, helping their neighbors through extraordinary circumstances.

I do these things because I am an American, and that is what we do best. We help others when they need help, our own as well as others around the world. Tens of millions of Americans are doing the same things, and yet we still feel some guilt that we cannot do more. And we cringe, mentally if not physically, when we hear the self-serving comments and blame gaming of those from whom we expect better.

As I write this, people are still dying in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Despite the best efforts of those brave souls working 20 hour days in the devastated areas, more will die still. Yet, to many of those to whom we look for leadership, we hear petty comments and cheap shots that are not suitable for political campaigns, and are downright shameful in the face of the effects of Katrina.

Maybe I speak only for myself, but just maybe, I speak for many. To all of the political leaders at every level, local, state or federal, Democrat or Republican, community, social or religious figures, I ask only the following. Shut up, and do your jobs! You can engage in all of the political positioning you want when the people are safe and secure. You can play blame games, or pass laws, or reorganize agencies all you want when our fellow citizens have been accorded the assistance they need and deserve. And maybe, after some time for reflection, you will think before you speak and consider consequences before you act. And if it is more important that you protect your reputation than it is to protect the citizens who elected you, maybe you should consider another line of work.

Tom Glennon

BIO

Tom Glennon recently retired as a Manager with an international bank. A Chicago native, he retired at the location of his last assignment, in the Des Moines, Iowa area.

He is an award winning speaker for the Volunteer Oil Industry Communications Effort, an industry advocacy group, and writes essays and opinion pieces for a variety of on-line and print publications.

Tom has served on his County Republican Committee, as well as having served as the County Campaign Chair for Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). His volunteer work has covered a variety of community based efforts, including youth athletic organizations, Junior Achievement, Youth at Risk, and the Boy Scouts.

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