Every war is a war against a child
February 1, 2010
BY DAWN ORTIZ-LEGG
“Every war is a war against children.” The elegant simplicity and hard truth of that statement is what made Howard Zinn a remarkable man. He embodied dissent in nearly every aspect of his life – as historian, teacher, author and citizen of the United States.
I remember back during the 2004 election, when many citizens consciously awoke to the realities of what was going on around the world. A close friend asked me “I really would like to understand politics better. How can I know more? What can I read? I immediately offered up Howard Zinn’s classic “The People’s History of the United States”.
To understand the politics of our country is to know the historical impact and extent of our power, our empire, how our tax dollars work. As unfortunate and difficult as it is to know, one must recognize we are all guilty of war crimes. If America is a democracy to respect and love, it must be able to be assessed in honest and critical terms of its conduct.
That is what Howard Zinn always did. With a smile on his face, he reminded us of the importance to speak out and when necessary, use civil disobedience. Zinn’s life long dedicated to peace and social justice, is more than inspiring. It is a testimony to living a life of purpose beyond our own comforts and living rooms.
When we do not educate ourselves about the realities of U.S. policies, it is difficult to understand the impact of our own tax dollar. A good example is the tax funds paid for or Blackwater security services – here is a result of that investment.
Last night I was at a reception at Planned Parenthood in San Luis Obispo. I had not been in the clinic for many years. I was very happy to visit the warm and comforting reception area and tour the clean examination rooms. The reproductive health care services Planned Parenthood offers our community are monies well spent. Funding comes from member’s contributions and partly by state and federal programs, such as Family Pact. The State puts in $1 and the Feds put in $9. Nearly 60 percent of PP income comes from this program.
Our regional Planned Parenthood clinics provide services to over 30,000 patients annually. Not only do they ensure confidential and safe services to create a world where it truly is the birthright of every child to be wanted, cared for and loved but their educational outreach to teens and economically disadvantaged women is a great investment. By the way, did you know that California is the only state where teen pregnancy has dropped significantly in the past 10 years?
Always under fire and waging annual ballot battles on parental notification, Planned Parenthood maintains a level of service and dedication to the health of women (and men) that is worthy or your donation or volunteer assistance. www.ppsbvslo.org
Meanwhile, Governor Schwarzenegger is threatening to cut Family Pact to save his budget. Please call Sam Blakeslee and Abel Maldonado to let them know this would be penny wise and pound foolish policy making. www.ppsbvslo.org
More of this short-sighted policy circus was unveiled last week when we learned that in FY 2011, the Federal discretionary budget was going to be frozen – except, of course, military and national security spending. Heaven forbid we use common sense and cut a bloated budget like DOD. Among the jeers and heckles from the most disrespectful Republican Congressional delegation I have ever witnessed, President Obama once more is trying to appease to a middle ground.
I say this is not only is not working, it is not the direction we should be going in if we want the United States to remain strong and vibrant.
If you want to increase jobs, reduce the deficit and the debt – do one thing Mr. President, change your foreign policy. PLEASE. A $3 trillion war debt, plus an annual $700 billion defense budget brings to mind a quote I often use from a Drake University professor of Economics:
“Prosperity and progress of a people or a nation depends not only on its ability to create wealth but also its wisdom to allocate it judiciously”.
Last May, Howard Zinn wisely said “not only does President Obama need to get the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan; we need to get out of the mindset that took us into Iraq and Afghanistan”.
Spending the majority of our economic resources on defense mentality must change.And we can change it. Howard Zinn reminded us that it is the People who matter most, not the elites. It is the People who give power and take it away.
It is up to us to determine how our money is spent and where we put our energy. Jobs, environment, education, technology, health services for those in need – that is a country worthy of you, me and beautiful teachers like the late, great Howard Zinn. Thank you, Professor Zinn.
Dawn Ortiz-Legg is a local activist, businesswoman, and mother.