Friday, July 13, 2012

The Man with the Golden Heart

It slipped past the media. But it deserves attention.

At the height of the Colorado wildfires, when firefighters were working for days without a break in 100-plus heat and smoke, NBC Nightly News ran a brief segment on the fact that these federal firefighters have no health insurance or other job benefits. It's because they are classified as "seasonal workers".

Their "season" is one of heat, smoke, flames, sleep deprivation, and the constant possibility of a fiery death. Some of them have fought to save the homes of others while knowing their own homes were going up in flames because they were not there to save them.

So what do we give them for their heroism and self-sacrifice? The back of our hands.

Except President Obama.

A few days after the brief NBC story, the Nightly News had a follow-up announcement. It was just a couple of sentences. Obama had ordered that the federal firefighters be allowed to buy into the federal health insurance system just like other federal employees.

That's kindness. And it's not the first time he has acted in what can only be described as a compassionate manner, using the power of his office to fix things for folks who need help. Among his acts of kindness  -  or call it justice  -  he ended don't ask/don't tell. He spoke out in favor of gay marriage. He stopped deportation of almost a million people who came here as children without going through the immigration process. His Justice Department is fighting tooth and nail to stop the elderly, students, the poor, and minorities from being denied the right to vote in more than 20 states.

And he has righted a century of horrific robbery suffered by the Native Americans. He has ordered the back payment of the royalties systematically withheld from the tribes by oil, gas, timbering and other Big Businesses. This is billions of dollars stolen by some of America's wealthiest corporations from some of America's poorest people  -  its First People.

As one Native American leader has said of Obama, "His words are golden".

So is his heart. He didn't have to do anything for the Native Americans. It wasn't political. On the scale of political clout, the Native Americans aren't even on the yardstick, to mix metaphors. Generally speaking they have seen little reason to participate in a system which has always betrayed them. They also don't see why they should have to lobby for their rights. As one traditional spiritual leader said to me, "Why does a government have to be forced to do what is right and to follow its own laws?" Yeah! Why indeed?

In my last blog, I angrily asked why you and others aren't supporting Obama with more dollars. I ranted. I apologize. Maybe you're all doing the best you can.

But are you really? Can't you give just a bit more to the man who has chosen from the beginning to help the poor and the helpless. Remember Sarah Palin sneering at him for having been a community organizer? That kind of says it all, doesn't it, about the difference between Republicans and Democrats?

And it's not just Sarah Palin. This week Romney reiterated his mantra that people who "want free stuff" can vote for "the other guy". He has also said in the recent past that students being crushed by college tuition should stop whining and take responsibility by picking up the phone and asking for a loan from their parents. He actually said that!

The man is a hard-hearted nut job!

Don't let the old cynical saying triumph:  "Nice guys finish last". It doesn't have to be that way if we all pull together.

Think about the poor children of America, of all races and ethnicities. Give more for their sake. The "free stuff" at risk here is food for their hunger. The GOP wants to cut food stamps.

What more do you need to know?

Join your golden acts to the golden words and heart of Obama. Let the nice guy finish first this time. If he does, you do too.

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