Lao Tzu

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

Letters of Note

Letter to the Editor, published in The Progressive magazine in 1986

Though the family continues to be a source of profound meaning and gratification for most women, Joan Walsh suggests we need a new social policy that “frees women from excessive responsibilities of economic and emotional caretaking.” She reveals a bias that underestimates the challenges of childrearing (“mind-numbing child raising”) and offers a scenario of a society in which children are raised collectively “apart from their parents.”
    What is required, I gather, is that we adjust to a reality we created, in part, out of self-contempt (society does not value “women’s work,” so it must be valueless), and move on in further self-denial toward a society in which a woman feels liberated because paid employees attend her baby’s growth while she performs “valuable” work attached to a CRT.
    Without a vision of a balanced and fully life-enhancing world, how can we make changes that will be in the best interest not only of women but also of children and men? The vision presented in Walsh’s article neglects this consideration and seems bent on exacerbating an already self-separated, alienating condition.
    Before a truly human-centered answer can be found, feminists must listen to those who would reclaim children, home, and family as valuable and essential concerns—as a legitimate occupation for that matter. To deny the value of the family simply because authoritarian sentiment would claim it for its own purposes is absurd.
    I wonder whether, out of pain over the effects of pervasive social misogyny, some feminists have sided with the predominant hatred, adopting the position that socially defined masculine character—work style, sexual style, achievement—is better. And in that mood, isn’t it possible that what emerges is a movement vulnerable to the forces that would turn us all into extensions of corporate and bureaucratic machines?
    If feminists want a way to link feminism and the family, it would be well to remember that the family is communal in nature and generally useful as a foundation of individual fulfillment, male and female.
    In a world increasingly devoid of real connectedness, commitment, and meaning in relation to others, the disappearance of the family and the extended family is an intolerable notion, one I cannot embrace. Nor will I embrace a social movement that wavers in its commitment to the family.

Rep. Brian Bilbray
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515-0550

July 28, 2006

Dear Rep. Bilbray,

    Your flier came in the mail yesterday. I noticed, on the response card, you requested feedback as to my “top concerns.” Since the concerns you listed contained a few that are of concern to me but ignored my greatest concerns, I have decided to respond formally to you.
    First, with all due respect, I want to remind you that you made a vow to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This means that you are to “establish Justice,” “promote the general Welfare,” and “secure the Blessings of Liberty” for your constituents, among the other duties demanded by the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you should support corporate welfare and the rich, at the expense of the “general Welfare.” It does not say “government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations,” or “government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.” You know what it does say. You are to work for me, and all the other ordinary Americans you represent.
    You have worked against labor and human rights for the workers in the Marianas Islands. You have been a lobbyist for corporations. You are a Republican. Therefore it is clear, up until this moment, you could not be counted on to oppose corporate welfare, to protect us from corporate abuse of the environment and our health, to end the marriage of government and industry, that is, corruption in government, or to wage a fair, honest, and secure election. What I have hoped is that you would rise to the level of your Office, stand up for the high ethical standards demanded by the Public Trust, and change. Sadly, you have already let us down.
    Among your first votes in Congress was the June 29 vote to lift the 25-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling in over 85% of U.S. waters, including those off the coast of San Diego. I do not see how this vote of yours could possibly “promote the General Welfare.” Whatever your rationale for abandoning the environment with this vote, you have failed in your duty to uphold the values of the community; instead, you have upheld the economic interests of the oil lobby!
    Above all, what we do not want is another Randy Duke Cunningham. That is, we do not want the spirit of greed, the lust for power, the war profiteering and promotion that he brought us. We want change: Integrity. Clean elections. Clean environment. Justice. Liberty. Peace.