Birney Imes: December closings cause for alarm

December 30, 2011 11:16:00 PM

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One closing no one should be shedding any tears over is the Iraq war. Just over two weeks ago the last American troops left that shattered and battered country. Finally. The cost: 4,484 American troops, 125,000 Iraqi civilians and more than $1 trillion. Could someone tell me for what? How do we ever justify that? 

 

The world is not a safer place; Iraq is not a stronger country and we've got thousands of young American men and women, who will have to cope with the associated psychological terrors of war for the rest of their lives. Same for the parents of the war dead, theirs and ours. 

 

Tell me, George W. Bush, down there on your ranch in Texas, for what? 

 

And a trillion dollars. And what do we have to show for it? A crushing national debt; that's what. 

 

Quoted in a column posted on Huffington Post, Former Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich encapsulated the absurdity of our actions in Iraq: "Recalling that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda both turned out to be all but nonexistent, a Churchillian verdict on the war might read thusly: Seldom in the course of human history have so many sacrificed so dearly to achieve so little." 

 

Who's to blame but Bush and his Svengali Dick Cheney along with Donald Rumsfeld and we, the somnambulant American public. This isn't about Democrat vs. Republican; liberal vs. conservative. This is about truth, immorality and our ambivalence as a society. Even Colin Powell, the one man in the administration with unassailable credibility. Remember the speech about the weapons of mass destruction before the U.N? Another causality of the Iraq war: Colin Powell's credibility. 

 

Lies and deceit. And, we tuned to another channel. These aren't our kids. War by remote control. What are we doing, folks? 

 

I can't say I fully understand the anti-Wall Street protests, but at least people are standing up. They're saying, "Hey, wait a minute. Something is wrong. Change has got to happen." 

 

America changed for the better in the 60s, but it took some courageous young people taking to the streets to instigate that change. Maybe that's what's happening now. 

 

The underlying message to all of this: Wake up, people. 

 

That was the message of another street radical from a couple millennium ago. In the words of the Spanish poet Antonio Machado ... 

 

 

 

"I love Jesus who said to us: 

 

Heaven and earth will pass away. 

 

When heaven and earth have passed away, 

 

my word will remain. 

 

What was your word, Jesus? 

 

Love? Affection? Forgiveness? 

 

All your words were 

 

one word: Wakeup." 

 

 

 

How about you? How are things in your workplace? Do you have a job? You're lucky if you do. Know someone who doesn't? We all do. 

 

I see people everyday without jobs. Good people. Smart people. Got any jobs? No, but come by and fill out an application. Maybe something will open up. 

 

Locally we're facing all kinds of closings. Omnova, a cornerstone of this community since 1963 -- then it was General Tire and Rubber -- kept going here far longer than most expected. The place provided long-term jobs for lots of people. Good jobs. 

 

Union workers striking the company seemed to live in an alternate reality. Jobs were disappearing by the thousands across the country, and they were making demands from a struggling company. Terrible timing, but it's a moot point now. There's nothing much left to fight over. 

 

And the Leigh Mall Sears is closing. What a blow. One weekend afternoon, a couple years ago my wife and I went in to buy a TV at Sears. The salespeople on duty were all engrossed in a football game. No one made as much as a gesture in our direction. Game over, store gone. 

 

Sears has a lot of good people who will be out of a job. Art Harris is an appliance salesman from whom we've bought appliances. Not only is Art knowledgeable, he is friendly and engaging. If the local Sears store had more Art Harrises, it would have been spared. Who knows? 

 

Local businesses are disappearing. The ones here need your help. Spend money on the Internet and it helps no one locally. Yea, it's convenient. I'm as guilty as anyone. Money spent at big box stores at least provides jobs for locals. Better yet, support the mom and pops, the locally owned businesses. 

 

The alarm bells are ringing. It's 2012. Let's wake up, join together, get involved, strengthen our community.