Save the Turkeys -- This Thanksgiving should provide welcome relief from the violence-ridden national debate over war on Iraq and terrorism. Unfortunately, many Americans will perpetuate the violence by giving thanks for their life, health and happiness on the grave of a tortured dead bird on their dinner table.
The 340 million turkeys raised in the U.S. each year have nothing to give thanks for. For 16 weeks, they breathe toxic fumes in crowded sheds, as their beaks and toes are cut off to reduce damage from stress-induced aggression. At the slaughterhouse, they are beheaded by an electric saw and dumped into a vat of scalding water, sometimes still conscious.
Ironically, turkeys get their revenge. Their flesh is laced with cholesterol, saturated fats, hormones, antibiotics and deadly pathogens like Salmonella and Campylobacter. Careful adherence to government warning labels is required to avoid food poisoning.
The grain fed to turkeys denies lifesaving foodstuffs to millions of starving people in Africa and Asia. Each year, the U.S. turkey factories dump 10 billion pounds of manure into our waterways.
I invite you to join me and millions of other Americans in celebrating this Thanksgiving with nonviolent, wholesome, delicious products of our earth's bounty: grains, fruits and vegetables. Our holiday fare may include the mock turkey made of tofu or seitan, lentil or nut roast, stuffed squash, corn chowder or chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin or pecan pie and carrot cake. An Internet search on vegetarian Thanksgiving will provide more information than you need to know.
A Man's Word? -- In childhood churches and John Wayne movies, I heard, "A man's word is his bond." Every time George Nethercutt runs for office and gets our vote, don't we participate with him in the corruption of values by allowing him to get away with breaking his word?
Does our vote signify we're corrupted, or does it mean that Nethercutt represents other values for us above that of a man's keeping his word? The transition from na & iuml;ve idealism to maturity is painfully enlightening.
To me, Clinton's veto of legislation (later overridden) that would have weakened accounting rules and led to the financial ruin of thousands of investors, was more valuable than the sexual infidelities that personally shamed him.
To others, President Bush's personal ties to the oil patch boys who manipulated California energy prices while scamming millions, is less important than the fact that he says, "God Bless America" frequently. What about the right of women to control their own bodies rather than be slaves to the federal government? Gun ownership? Many commendable but contradictory values in this world clash with one another, and in choosing some, we inevitably devalue others.
I believe that absolutes are always logically unsustainable, and that all we need to fear in America and the world are those who childishly insist that their personal and arbitrary value systems are the only correct ones. They are the ones who, given enough power, eventually put those who disagree with them in the stocks or concentration camps.
Difficult as it is to grow out of childhood certainty into the ambiguities of real life, we must embrace ambivalence or world peace will forever elude us.
What Goes Around... -- In political science, "regimes" are sets of rules by which nations live -- social systems. When the Bush people speak of "regime change," then, they are talking about changing the rules of the political game, not the deposing or assassination of a nation's leader. That latter event is a coup d'etat. It is important to keep these ideas separate and to call President Bush's proposed actions by their proper names. Let's deal with these two actions in turn.
It is certainly true that the Bush administration is attempting a regime change. It is trying to redefine the rules of the game so that, instead of nations being bound by the rule of law, they will be bound only by the rule of might (if a nation has the power, then that nation can act in any way its leaders please). After a century or more of trying to bring more of the world's nations into the regime of the rule of law, this is indeed quite a departure, and one that we should not embark upon without a great deal of real debate and dialogue. Going down that road would mean that in the event that this country no longer has the overwhelming power that President Bush claims for us, we would be prey to whatever nation has (or thinks it has) enough power to effect a regime change of its own, a coup d'etat.
As for President Bush's seeming determination to remove elected leaders (or unelected, as the case may be) at his whim, this is another extreme departure from our American tradition. Americans have always valued the ideas of democracy and of due process and the rights of the citizens to choose their own leaders. How can we now make such an abrupt turn and call for a war to remove a nation's leader without the debate and dialogue that any democracy would undertake prior to going down a path that is contrary to its traditional value system? We would certainly not accept any other country's right to come in and depose our President. How can we claim a right to do that to another nation and remain true to our values?