Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Article Contributed by gratefulweb | Published on Friday, November 19, 2004

I had a lot at stake in this election.  I am 22 years old, which means the current debt and social security issues will fall on my shoulders.  I am helping pay and will continue to for decades for tax cuts and a war that I do not believe in.  I will be starting a family soon in a country I don't recognize, where one half speaks a completely different language than the other half.  I will watch as some of my friends' desires for marriage become hopeless fantasies, as civil liberties are stripped away from them and the constitution.  I will watch as others struggle with life altering decisions that they will not legally be allowed to make.  I will watch my nephews grow up in a country where one half of the populace believes the only civil liberty worth protecting is the right to bear arms, while my nephews' peers shoot themselves and each other with this precious right.  I will watch as the constitution, the very foundation of our country, is chiseled away bit by religious bit.  I believe the next four years will show who is truly running this country and one half of the country either won't care or will be too uneducated to realize that large corporations and the religious right control our president's every move.  Middle America, your average guy, your moral voter have decided that the separation of church and state that this country was founded on are no longer important.  They have decided that unilateral power within the government is a good thing, and they have decided that their president can do no wrong.  They have judged his actions and called them moral.  It is a sad day when lying to a country to start an unnecessary war is considered moral, when killing innocent civilians and terrorizing a country all to make a few friends richer is considered moral.  The country I am talking about is America; Bush leads by causing fear in those not educated enough to understand that he is what is truly terrifying.  I do not understand how this country arrived here, how this great republic has wandered backwards, forgetting its roots.  One half of the country mourns and the other half cheers too loudly to realize that the world is not cheering with them.  The world is scared for them and they're still cheering. However, there is one thing that both sides have failed to pay attention to, one thing that unifies them.  That one thing is the living, breathing planet that we all inhabit, that connects us all.  A portion of the people in this country have realized that we not only live in cities, counties, states and countries, but that we also live in watersheds and ecosystems that are all interconnected.  Most of our country has decided to continue pretending that we live on an infinite planet, one that can swallow up our wastes and constantly produce resources to sustain us.  I am equally disappointed in both sides, at a time when global warming is no longer a theory, but a scientific fact, the environment barely made it as a criterion for most peoples voting decisions.  Of all the things that scare me about this election, this scares me the most.  We do not live on an infinite, lifeless rock; we live in an ecosystem that is slowly dying as a direct result of our actions.  Somehow leaving a trillion dollar deficit for the next generation is cruel, but destroying the environment they are expected to live in is fine.  Regardless of whether gay citizens retain their rights, regardless of whether women have the right to control their own bodies and regardless of whether the international community has any respect for us, we will still be living in the environment we are killing.  No matter what policies we leave for our children, they will still have to live in the nest we spoiled.  What will you tell your grandchildren when they ask if polar bears ever existed outside of zoos, if caribou and wolves did?  What will you say when they ask what happened to them?  Will you tell them the concerted efforts of a few and the inaction of many killed these creatures?  What will you say when your children ask if insect-born illnesses and environmentally-related cancers were such common killers when you were a child?  Will you tell them you poisoned their world for your temporary material comfort?  What will you tell your children and grandchildren when they ask why no one listened to the planet's warning signs, why no one headed scientists' advice, why no one made even the smallest changes in their lifestyles to benefit future generations?   Will you say you were too lazy or claim ignorance? Or will you be able to say that you've been trying all along, even if no one has been listening.  Future generations will listen.  Not to say that the other issues at stake in this election or any other are trivial.  Even if we manage to preserve some of the environment for our children, if we leave them a disemboweled constitution, they will not live their lives as fully as they could.  However, the environment, the planet is still the one thing that can greatly diminish your children's lives, even if all minorities have rights, our constitution is upheld and equality, not oil, is considered a moral issue.

So, the next time you're at the store, actually think about what you are buying.  Is it necessary?  What chemicals or pesticides were involved in its manufacture?  How is its gas mileage?  Who made it?  You can't feel good about everything you purchase, too much of our economy is based on child labor in other countries, but you can try to reduce the amount of stuff that you do not feel good about buying.  You can recycle, conserve energy and water, and all the while you will most likely save money, especially if you begin to question what you purchase.  And the next election you can look at a candidate's environmental stances and record and you can make the environment a criterion in your voting decision.