As we approach the general election, urgency speaks in many languages, spurred by the attacks on our constitutional system. Make it easy on yourself, go online and register for "early voting" to receive your ballot in the mail before the Oct. 22 deadline. It's good to remember, elections in America are peaceful revolutions for change.
There's a clever e-mail being passed around that tells the story of a sea captain who complained to the first mate "that the men smelled bad." The captain concluded that the crew needed to change their underwear more often. Thus, the first mate immediately set about to execute the captain's orders: "Pittman, you change with Jones, McCarthy, you change with Witkowski, and Brown, you change with Schultz."
The moral, of course, is "someone may come along and promise ‘change,' but don't count on things smelling any better."
We must admit the political scene in our beloved America has produced horrific smells for a very long time, no matter whose ship is out front. Deceit is predictably contagious, especially among the "lifers." Citizens aren't clean, either; heavy- handed manipulation, by certain special interests groups, high and low on the economic scale, rob local and national coffers.
No wonder we're a nation devoid of trust.
There's a remarkable story about trust in Barbados, the Caribbean island, south of Jamaica. Both Barbados and Jamaica were colonized by the British. In the mid-'60s, they gained independence and set up "parliamentary style democracies," thus economically they were on about the same level, "one not much richer than the other."
Today: "Five decades after independence, median income in Barbados is twice what it is in Jamaica. Literacy rate in Barbados, over 95 percent ... in Jamaica, it's estimated that a fifth of the population is functionally illiterate. And Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world, while Barbados is near the bottom" (www.thisamericanlife.org archive 410).
What's happened? For inspiring details, check out the above website, but here's a summary: In the early '90s, when oil prices shot up, Barbados was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund for a foreign currency loan. The IMF made demands that would have destroyed the Barbados economy. The unions, businesses, chamber of commerce and eventually the government came together in unity. Pay cuts and other major adjustments were accepted. Even the IMF was persuaded to back off from some of its requirements.
The Barbados citizens needed to attract their lifeline - tourism and American dollars. The entire little nation became one in purpose on an unheard of level, led by leadership with integrity. Several decades earlier, Jamaica went through the same thing, but poor leadership, division and mistrust devastated that island and it has yet to recover.
Wish we could do for our state and country what Barbados did. But, trust has been annihilated, and there's a strong sense that we're running out of time. We know if we just exchange dirty underwear in the November election, we've gained nothing. And, we must not forget November 2012, either. Use the valor and vision of your vote, turn this country around.
Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix television news anchorwoman who lives in the East Valley. Her column appears monthly. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.