FDR -- the man who brought us through the Great Depression by getting down to basics and then through WWII, which ended yes after the bad guy died. In his first 100 days, FDR declared a need for Relief, Recovery, and Reform -- the 3Rs -- and then went to work creating programs that would do just that. Relief for the poor. Recovery of the economy. Reform of systems. Much of what he suggested was bold and much of what was done worked.
We need to do it again. Offer relief by rebuilding inner cities, thus creating a liveable and more hopeful environment for those who struggle to live simply with little income. Forgive student loans, thus providing a real future to several generations of cash-strapped ex-students who cannot afford to buy homes or participate in 'greater' economic systems. Award more money to public schools and thus provide a fuller richer future for those who cannot afford private school. Fund public health rather than private insurance companies. All deserve to have health care, not just those who can pay for over-priced health insurance and co-pays. Take care of the people, not the corporations. Believe in the worth of public institutions, and make sure they adequately and usefully serve the people. Recover the economy by creating a more equitable tax structure. Expect the richest American citizens to pay their share of costs. They can afford it. Regulate corporations and financial institutions. Reform the insurance industry; the high cost of insurance -- all kinds of insurance -- is smothering American creativity and destroying the health of our nation.
And , yes, end all wars. Rein in the wild rearing beast of the military industrial complex. An economy founded on death and destruction is neither sustainable nor desirable. It is shameful.
We had the audacity of hope, and it made us giddy. But now perhaps the time has come to move beyond hope to action. Look up, Obama, we believe there can be change. Look at the unease in America. See the hunger, the growing misery. Beside you on either side of this pillar are some powerful thinkers, helping to hold up the tracks carrying train loads of workers across the Bay. Lift up your eyes, look at these men: the Dalai Lama and FDR. They have the tools to do what is necessary, and so do you. Compassion and Practicality. Grace and Dignity. Intelligence, Imagination.
Convince the stubborn mean-spirited Republicans that they must compromise. Remind them of the pressing need to end corporate greed, stop war, provide for the continued health, education and welfare of the American people. Tell the rich in no uncertain terms to dig into their overflowing bank accounts and shovel out some of that wealth to help repair the potholes of our decaying economic highway so we can all move forward into the future.
The artist who has created these portraits and taken the time to install them in a very public place is asking us all to think about these issues and to find ways of creating change creatively and peacefully.
We would all rather live in peace than rest in peace.
And to do so, we need to keep our eyes and our hearts open.
I don't know the identity of this B&W man, suited-up with his fading disappearing body and invisible mouth, but he matters in the line-up of the 7th St portraits. He stands warily on a pillar not far from the FDR-Obama-Dalai Lama pillar, and he stands alone, an everyman, a no man, with dark shadowed eyes looking east past trash strewn streets.
He is the witness. We are the witnesses. He is us; we are him.
. . . and live in peace.