Five Memorial Days I Can’t Wait to Have
Memorial Day is a centuries-old tradition in the US to honor the men and women who died fighting for their country. It’s also the unofficial kick-off to summer, which some might say is slightly ironic. They’re wrong of course. Ironic would be a government that honors and supports our armed forces while they’re enlisted, and then cuts their benefits and health care afterward. But I digress.
Life should be a celebration, so it seems perfectly reasonable to take time to honor the incredible sacrifice of those who gave their lives for ours, and then celebrate them. In fact, I think we should do that more often. War is a conscious decision, a choice, and wouldn’t it be nice if we could make different choices and perhaps avoid the war part completely and get straight to the celebrating? To get us started, here are the top five things we should memorialize through elimination:
1. Citizens United: Ostensibly set up as a lobby group to return the US Government to control of its citizens, this (ahem) nonprofit has done just that, with the caveat that said citizens must be very, very rich, or a corporation. Now we can secretly funnel limitless cash to politicians and watch Washington grind to a halt. I can’t wait for the 38th vote against the Affordable Care Act.
2. Just Say No: Nancy Reagan’s suggested approach to drugs has morphed into a costly, ineffective, violent policy that’s siphoning scant resources and creating powerful, brutal gangs throughout the Americas. Taxing legal marijuana would go a long way toward amending the country’s financial woes and freeing the jails of small-time weed dealers (meaning more fathers at home, a smaller tax burden on citizens and less-crowded prisons that could then focus on rehabilitation). And ganja’s less potent cousin, hemp—from which Betsy Ross made the first American flag, Levi his first pair of jeans and today is used to make recyclable fiber glass, rope and paper—could be fully industrialized.
3. The Gay Rights Movement: I mean, really? Still? Railing against who we love should be the sole domain of drunk friends and obstinate parents. Listen, if we could choose who turned us on, life would be easy and practical. We can’t. And it leads us to lie about hiking the Appalachian Trail and file for divorce while our spouses are dying of cancer. Seriously, we have so many important things to do and achieve as a society—more time not celebrating love is time wasted.
4. The 5-2 Work Week: Christianity gave us Sundays free, and Judaism gave us Saturday. Islam could do the same for Friday. As we’ve evolved, the workday too has shortened from the 12-16 hours it was during the industrial revolution to the 8 (or 10 or 12) it is today. The 5-2 breakdown is pretty arbitrary; it’s time we jump the chasm and get to a healthy, happy 4-3. Rates of ill health and stress-induced disease are at all time highs. We’re fairly disconnected from our off-line communities, and imbalance is rife. Adding a third day to the normal weekend would create a much healthier work-life balance, decrease transportation costs, and—if the pundits are to be believed that ‘sitting is the new smoking’—lead to greater physical health in general.
5. Fossil Fuel: Lost in the shuffle last week was the news that we’ve officially moved past 400 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere. In layman’s terms this means ‘oh, sh*t.’ We’ve pushed our climate to the brink of our own survival, and still we’re fighting the intentional lies of Big Oil. If we continue turning the planet inside out to mine fossil fuels, then that’s what we’ll all be—fossils. Intelligent incentives could drive investment in renewables and support existing technologies. If only there were recent freak weather patterns or devastating drought or melting ice caps to alert us. Oh well.
**NOTE: A top 5 list is always up for debate, so please let us know yours by tweeting to @fentonprogress. My second 5, to get things started: Automated call centers, bacon as drink ingredient, Dick Cheney, garbage cans without recycling options across cities and playing music out loud on your cell phone in train cars.