The man in the mirror

I have a copy of a poem that I refer to often, quoted below. I can’t say that I live up to all its standards, but I can lay claim to some. But how are the rest of us doing? Here are some of my assessments. The great problem we face as a nation is that we let greed overrule common sense. Since the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf, a boycott of British Petroleum has been launched in Florida, but I saw a woman on TV stating that while she supports the boycott, she still patronizes BP stations because it is convenient. That’s the reasoning of most people in this great country. We are not free – we gave that up years ago when we let others do our thinking for us. Thinkers are a danger to government, corporations and religion, all oppressive entities.

BP has had an accident that will affect the nasty word “environment,” people’s livelihood and our vacation destinations, oh, my, my. Not much has been said about the 11 people who were incinerated in the explosion that took down the oil rig. You can bet if they had died in an explosion set by a terrorist, their photos would be all over the newspapers and the media would have covered their funerals and talked to their families. But when they die in a needless accident caused in large part by our thirst for petroleum, we just shrug and figure it’s all in a day’s business. Got to have cheap oil!

The last administration was too busy playing footsie with the oil companies to implement tough safety regulations for offshore drilling. But everyone lays all the blame on the present administration. One politician in Florida wants to put the Army in charge, as if this were another Desert Storm and Saddam Hussein had set the wells in Iraq on fire. The guy doesn’t even remember it was private industry called in by the Army that put out those fires and cleaned up the mess.

The Guy in the GlassDale Winslow ©1934When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And think you’re a wonderful guy.
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.He’s the fellow to please — never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear to the end.
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Drilling in the best of circumstances is a risky and dangerous business, but we pretend it’s safe and clean. Right now we’re all angry at BP, angry at the destruction of fisheries and wetlands, but we forget that just a few months ago, 60 percent or more of us were chanting, “Drill, baby, drill!”

But, really, it’s the man in the mirror who is to blame. We have to quit looking at the tie and the lie, and elect people who are more than sound bites.

As to the immigration problem, there again it is the guy in the glass who must take responsibility. During World War II, due to a shortage of labor (despite the enlistment of thousands of women doing the work of men — thanks, ladies!) we induced persons from Mexico to come here. We even sent recruiters there to bring them by train and bus. They weren’t wellpaid or sheltered, but they filled the labor gap to help us in the war effort. And, as the saying goes, how are you going to keep someone down on the farm once they’ve been to Paree? Agribusiness and large ranches found that Mexicans were easy to use to bring cheaper foods to the table of the man in the mirror, and since then the number of illegal workers has exploded. We hate them, but we sure love the low prices at the grocery store. And, remember, we wouldn’t have a drug problem on the border if the man in the mirror weren’t consuming those drugs.

How are we to get out of this mess? It comes down to us. We complain about those we elect, when we we give them no guidance. We cast our votes, strut if our person gets in office and whine like a child when they don’t, and then we forget about the matter. No one hires a babysitter, housecleaner, or equipment operator without monitoring and explaining what we desire of them.

So if you aren’t satisfied with things, stand tall, ask questions before we elect people, and take a long, hard look at the man in the mirror. If we all did that, we could once again be proud of the United States of America.

Galen Larson writes from rural Montezuma County, Colo.

From Galen Larson.