Two different people I spoke with today were telling me about a problem in their lives, and both said, completely separately from the other, that they had to take it "one day at a time, one step at a time." And I thought how we have become a 12-step nation, or at least we're familiar with the concept that there are steps people have to take to "recover" from serious problems, trauma, or illness. They can't just wait for "recovery" to arrive, or to wake up one morning and be cured of what ails them. A self-help nation that believes we can become honest with ourselves about our own unhealthy conduct, look for guidance about how to change, then follow steps to a healthier life. It always starts with getting honest, and always includes being accountable.
It seems the same should be true for our nation as a whole. We have spent 8 years with Bush and Cheney as national leaders. We have allowed them to use the entire U.S. treasury and military to bully, murder, bomb, rape, pillage, and loot many nations of the world, while terrorizing and intimidating the others, demeaning those who stood against their brutish ways by calling them "old Europe," and suggesting that civil nations that oppose war are sissies, should be ridiculed or possibly destroyed. We have been led by two of the most barbaric and disgusting men to assume national leadership in decades. We allowed them to do these things. And we have been sickened and our nation infected with disease as a result of that association.
Yet I already hear people with national voices arguing that we should let bygones be bygones, so what if they tortured, let's move on. As if we were talking about a spat, or a misunderstanding, or a missed phone call, instead of talking about the intentional mass murder of human beings. And the intentional theft of the retirement and savings, and jobs, and future, and college accounts for many Americans. These crimes defy categorization in decent societies. People focus on Madoff's scam, but ignore the massive scale of similar theft and con carried out by by the largest financial institutions in this country. These people need to be in prison, and they should be stripped of every penny they have. They should be forever scorned in polite society, their names written in schoolbooks under lists of "American Traitors."
So how do we move towards a national cure? How do we recover? We don't solve the 8 years of waging war on others simply by inaugurating a new president, even if he is cute and smart and everyone likes him. At least for the people who have been murdered, have lost homes and families, those kidnapped, tortured, murdered during the 8 year reign of terror, the inauguration brings them no compensation or relief for the damage they've suffered.
Let's look at the standard 12 steps and see if they provide any national guidance for the citizens. I've started with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are 12 steps for overeaters or rageaholics, or drug addicts, or gamblers, or any other type of extremely deadly behavior symptomatic of people with such high levels of dysfunction that they are essentially suicidal in their behavior. I've modified them as I think appropriate to address our extreme national dis-ease.
1.) We admitted we citizens were powerless over and excluded in all meaningful ways from the decision-making and policies of our entire national government and economy -- that all decisions in this country are made by a small elite group of rich people who care nothing for the citizens and care nothing about what it is we want -- and that our lives had become unmanageable.
2.) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves -- participatory democracy with all citizens equally involved in decision making and in running the country for the benefit of the citizens -- could restore our nation to a sane way of living in the world.
3.) Made a decision to turn our lives over to the concept of a new nation committed to participatory democracy and equal involvement by all citizens as we understand it.
4.) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, our nation, our politicians, our economy, our relationship with each other and with the rest of the world, and our behavior as it has harmed ourselves and the rest of the world.
5.) Admitted to ourselves, to our neighbors, and to the rest of the world the exact nature of our wrongs.
6.) Were entirely ready to cooperate with the other citizens of this country and of the world to remove all these defects in our national character and conduct, to hold our own people accountable for their crimes, and to be accountable to the rest of the world.
7.) Humbly asked our justice system and our politicians to appoint special prosecutors to investigate charges of inhumane torture, kidnapping, murder, the deliberate waging of war for the purpose of stealing other countries' resources, and the financial crimes committed in this country which have robbed not only the citizens of the U.S. but also many people throughout the world. But if the politicians and justice system fail to act promptly, we citizens appoint our own prosecutors, begin recall and impeachment against any politician who opposes us, and take control of the government by peaceful means to accomplish our goal of prosecutions, accountability and reconciliation.
8.) Made a list of all persons our politicians, business leaders, and nation had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all by holding public hearings and exposing the criminals, prosecuting those against whom there is sufficient evidence, taking back all the money they have stolen and distributing it to the victims, imprisoning those found guilty, and creating a national fund to begin compensation to people in the world injured or harmed by the U.S. either through war or through economic crimes.
9.) Made direct amends to the people we have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10.) Continued to take inventory of our nation's conduct during the 8 years of the Bush-Cheney regime and going forward, when we discover additional crimes done to people in this country or in the world, promptly admitted it, prosecuted, and took appropriate action against the wrongdoers and to compensate the victims.
11.) Sought through public discussion and cooperation with our own citizens and the people of other nations of the world to improve our conscious contact with all the world and all the people of the world, seeking only for knowledge of what is the right way for us to live in peace without destroying the world, striving to create a world in which all people are free from war, violence or hunger, have shelter, medical care, education, opportunity, and jobs, and seeking through discussion and cooperation the power and will to carry that out.
12.) Having had a national awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to to other Americans, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.