16 December 2013

Humanity on the 14A

I don't ride the bus much, and when I do, I'm always a little surprised to see that there's a community of riders that take the same line at the same time every day.

Today, one rider helped another get her shopping cart on the bus, and then gave her a hand. 

A little later, a man got on who didn't speak any English, but wanted to know where to get off the bus.  He showed a piece of paper to another rider, who read it out loud, and a third rider identified the address of the agency -- but no one on the bus spoke his language.  So the driver said, "Hold on, I'll get someone."

At the next stop, the driver found a man who shared the language of the first one, and could tell him where to get off the bus and what direction to walk from there.

The helper chatted with the other guy for a while before he disappeared into the back of the bus. 

A couple of stops later, a person got on in a wheelchair.  This requires lifting some seats near the front of the bus and then helping the rider hook the chair into the designated spot with some straps.  I've seen the occasional bus driver look put out by this, and passengers sometimes respond in kind by grumbling about the extra time required.

Today's driver, though, did everything needed with efficiency and kindness.  No one on the bus dared grumble.

At the stop before the man needing directions was to get off, the bus driver found another rider who spoke his language to make sure he got off at the right stop and walked the right direction.  He waited to make sure that guy was going the right direction before he left the bus stop.

I was a few minutes late for my appointment.  But I was glad to get a ride with that driver.

05 December 2013

Letter to the President

My brother sent me a copy of a letter he wrote to the President back in September.  I asked him for permission to post it here, and he sent me a revision, and then I got busy and didn't get to it.  It's out of date now, but it's still a good letter -- so here you go.


Dear President Obama:

As a lifelong Democrat who voted for you twice, I have supported nearly all of your political policies.
As an environmentalist who recognizes the need for petroleum, I welcome your middle-of-the-road environmental positions. As a member of the middle-class who was laid off during the recession, I appreciate your laws mandating health insurance for every United States citizen. As a common-sense Democrat, I have supported the many political positions that are both yours and the Democratic Party’s. However, the issue of military engagement with Syria has propelled me to speak out against U.S. involvement.
When George W. Bush was president and engaged the U.S. in numerous military conflicts, Democrats were up in arms. With the exception of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan — which most people supported — Democrats, rightfully so, spoke out against war, opposed the use of U.S. arms and personnel in foreign conflicts and derided the Republican propensity to start wars.
When you were elected president, you forged a new foreign policy. You pledged arbitration not arms, mediation not military action. I, along with most Democrats, have supported this ideology.
Today, as in the past few decades, the people most likely to support U.S. military involvement in foreign wars do not have sons or daughters in the military. (Personally I do not have military-age children). The question to ask those who ardently support U.S. military involvement in Syria or other countries is: “Is U.S. involvement so important that you are willing to sacrifice the life of one of your children?”
As you are well aware, the demographics of the U.S. military are overwhelmingly minority and low-income. This is the demographic who will lose their lives in any protracted military involvement — not the children of the white elite such as John Kerry, John Boehner or John McCain.
United States citizens are not only war-weary, but we are war-wary. Will Syria become another Egypt? Bouncing from one totalitarian regime to another? Or will it become another Iraq? Swallowing thousands of lives as well as trillions of dollars? Aside from the human death toll, what about the financial cost of war? With the U.S. still reeling from its depression, still mired in a prolonged recession, the country cannot afford to endlessly print greenbacks to pay for bombs.
For all of these reasons — ideological, financial and humanitarian — I am imploring you to retreat from your plan of U.S. military involvement in Syria. As a Democrat and a voter, I am asking you to implement your campaign promises of Peace not War.
Chris Estes