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Jonathan Kraut: Wishing you fairness and service to others

Democratic Voices

Posted: January 5, 2009 5:27 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
With this New Year just begun, I would like to wish to all of you and to all whom you know, good health, prosperity, fairness and service to others.

We are accustomed to wishing each other good health and prosperity, but it may be a bit strange to wish someone fairness or service to others.

But both of these ideals promote the well-being of others as well as harmony within oneself. Without fairness in the world and the rewards of serving others, we cannot fully enjoy our good health and prosperity.

I appreciate Steve Lunetta's Signal column last week discussing his Republican New Year's resolutions. Steve seemed to break through that conservative mindset that equates status with moral authority. He honed in on a fairness message I hope we all can openly embrace.

Steve wrote about "not accepting dishonesty or corruption from any public official." Bravo. He pledged that his "views would be blind with regards to politics" and that regarding illegal immigration, "charity must begin at home." Wow.

These concepts of fairness and of a balanced, nonjudgmental approach really fly in the face of "old conservative thinking."

Many conservative tenets are based on the premise that "if I can do it, you can do it." This knuckled-headed simplistic version of bullying by dogma assumes that willpower and drive are all that are needed to succeed.

The argument goes like this: "I am financially successful because I did what it takes to be successful. I created my wealth, so I deserve prosperity.

"If you aren't successful, then you don't deserve wealth and you don't deserve any help. Why should taxpayers help you and why should I have to pay for it?"

The argument equates wealth to moral authority, i.e., "I am entitled to money because I have money." This view is anti-Democratic and un-American.

One could translate this position to mean the wealthy deserve more votes per person than the indigent or that government should protect the wealthy and not help the needy or supporting good causes.

Our government exists to a large extent to provide for fairness, i.e., one person, one vote. Our governmental system is specifically designed to take a bit from those who can afford it, which is most of us, to provide for the common good, like schools, and hospitals, and to defend and empower the innocent.

Another version of "old conservative thinking" pertains to undocumented immigration: "My parents/ancestors came to this country legally. They followed the law. Illegal immigrants broke the law. Anyone who breaks the law should be sent back."

The problem with this argument is that many were, and still are, encouraged to work under the table so that those fat conservatives can become even wealthier and even fatter.

This pinheaded concept suggests that anyone's ancestors who came here legally and violated a law since arrival should be deported, too. I say you either show compassion and wisdom or blindly deport anyone who ever violated this nation's laws.

Conservative thinking should lead to the deportation of everyone who had ever fudged their income-tax statements, hired without checking for proper documentation, saw a possible drug deal and did not call 911, wrote a check that didn't clear or enjoyed music that was not downloaded legally. Of course, unless they have money.

Dear Steve, I hope your noble views regarding fairness take hold. Old conservative thinking should have died in kindergarten where it started.

Like wishing that others be treated fairly, I think offering service to others is a big part of any solid resolution message. Service to others means contributing to those you do not know or with whom you have no connection.

That is why I traditionally host at my home in the days between Christmas and New Year's Day a holiday party to support our local SCV Emergency Winter Shelter.

This year we raised a modest amount of cash and collected donated goods. We meet in person to marshal support.

We learned from our distinguished guest, Tim Davis, the shelter's executive director, how we might continue to secure a safe harbor for our communities most needy and vulnerable.

Buddhist monks blessed attendees with colored strings around our right wrists for our service to those we do not know. What a great way to welcome a new year.

When we come together for the sake of others, lifetime friends are made, our contribution benefits those in need, and we, too, change. There is something special and empowering about offering service to others.
This year, I hope you discover the feeling that only offering service creates. Your health will improve, you will discover new riches beyond money, and 2009 will certainly be a wonderful year for you, spreading to all around you.

P.S. You might assist our shelter for people in need at www.santaclaritashelter.com.

Jonathan Kraut is a Fair Oaks Ranch resident and serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV, on the SCV Human Relations Forum, and on the SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations.

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