BY SHARON MARTIN
Near Oklahoma City, a minister grows a garden. Anyone is welcome to stake out a piece of the garden for themselves. For the aged and disabled, this local hero provides the labor and the fruits of his labor.
In Drumright, a business teacher arrives early and stays late to give her rural students an entrance into the wider world. She and her students work all year long to raise the necessary funds so that every member of the Drumright FBLA can attend the national FBLA conference. For some students, it is their first trip more than a few miles from home. For more than one, it has been life changing.
Both the preacher and the teacher know that community is a source of strength. If everyone gives a little we all can have enough. It is the idea on which Christianity was founded. It’s the idea that brought America back from the brink of destruction that was the Great Depression.
This sense of fairness, of community, of all-for-one is under attack in legislatures across the country. In the name of deficit reduction, we are stripping the people of basic rights. We must stand up to those who would deny workers the right to bargain for wages and benefits.
Our personal freedoms are under attack. We must stand firm against those who believe there should be only one religion in America. Personal freedom doesn’t mean that a corporation can spend as much money as it chooses to sway an election. It means that individuals have the right to fair trials without the legislature hamstringing the courts. It doesn’t mean that we pay no taxes and that we aren’t responsible for the weakest among us.
The real heroes out there continue to care for their neighbors. They work long hours to teach the next generation even while their rights and livelihoods are challenged. They patrol the streets while legislators chisel away at their pensions. We are in this together. There is no us and them. We all must contribute and we all must share in the bounty. Taking away a worker’s rights to fair pay will not erase the deficit. Cutting taxes to the bone will not make us all richer. Denying social justice to the citizens of this country will not make America stronger.
If those who hate unions, workers, and fair wages win, we all lose. We only have to look at the last Dark Ages to know this is true. In the face of this devastation, the teacher teaches and the preacher plants a garden. These are the real heroes of these times.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer