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Syndi Holmes

A Reply to the President's Christmas Request
By Syndi Holmes
Dec 27, 2004 - 8:40:00 AM

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During his Christmas address to the nation, the President asked citizens to volunteer their time to help other citizens in need. Specifically, he noted that "Many of our fellow Americans still suffer from the effects of illness or poverty. Others fight cruel addictions, or cope with division in their families or grieve the loss of a loved one."

But he fails to acknowledge the jobs lost on his watch. He ignores the fact that Americans have lost their health benefits as they have lost their employment, and that the low-paying, part-time jobs that replaced decent wage positions do not offer benefits.

He fails to acknowledge the lack of compassion his budget reveals in regards to social programmes for the "less fortunate"- from the basic of food for the poor all the way through Pell Grants for college students trying to better themselves with higher education.

To the top 1% he gives huge tax breaks, the rest of us get his prayers and his admonition to help each other - is THIS what  compassionate conservatism is?

Instead of just offering prayers, he could have asked ExxonMobil, the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, ChevronTexaco and the Southern Company, who are among more than 20 donors giving the maximum $250,000 to his Inaugural Ball, to do their duty to their fellow citizens and donate that money to the poor. But instead of showing love to others, the executives will be attending the ceremonies, black-tie balls and events with the president, and they'll will be earning more favours. Many other corporations are paying tribute with smaller amounts to the Ball fund like the $100,000, money contributed by the military contractors Boeing and Northrop Grumman just to be there.  I guess none of heard Jesus talk to the rich young ruler about what he needed to do in order to get to Heaven and how hard it is for the rich to get there.

Although he could remind all of us saying that "Christmastime reminds each of us that we have a duty to our fellow citizens, that we are called to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves. By volunteering our time and talents where they are needed most, we help heal the sick, comfort those who suffer and bring hope to those who despair, one heart and one soul at a time." he did not set any example by demonstrating his principles in action.\

He and his family were snug and together at Camp David for Christmas and although he called 10 members of the military on Friday to thank them for their service and to share holiday greetings, their families are without them and over 1300 military families who have lost a loved one have an empty seat at their tables and in their hearts forever.

He has now gone on to spend the next week at his ranch in Crawford because he is tired from the election and managing the war per his aides.

TIRED? What about the soldiers who have been overseas on over-extended duty or already back on second tours? What about the unending worry their families endure? What about wounded soldiers who are undergoing numerous reconstructive surgeries or are experiencing the labourious tasks of rehabilitation-learning to walk or talk again or are adapting to life with a new handicap?

Tired? What about all the Americans working so hard to stretch an ever shrinking dollar to cover basic expenses and often can't?

My son and I joined many other local volunteers at a nearby shelter on Thanksgiving and Christmas to offer what help we could give to our hurting brothers and sisters. We have seen their faces -have you, Mr. President?

Do you know what is to be laid off, to not be able to provide for your family because someone else's economic policy in Washington DC has not panned out? Have you ever had to huddle together in one room of your apartment during a really cold spell of winter because you could not afford the high cost of the needed heat?  Did you ever asked your daughters to wait for a birthday gift until you could afford to buy one because the rent was due that day?  I have; but I am just one of millions of other Americans who have similarly struggled.

So when we help others we know where they are at- it is not rhetorical to us. We are not just volunteering but are standing in solidarity with them because their current plight is also our struggle. It is the struggle to achieve a basic level of human dignity, a right that all persons everywhere deserve; a right that is begrudged to most persons in this world by the arrogant and powerful. After all, we, as Christians, have been commanded to treat others as we would be treated- Christ did not offer addendums, amendments or codicils to modify that law.

P.S. I have to ask this-did Donald Rumsfield ride in a fully amoured vehicle while he was in Iraq or was he ferried everywhere by helicopter for his own personal safety?

Syndi Holmes
Mocksville, North Carolina

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