Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2003 / 15 Elul, 5763
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Before we begin the column this week, I have two examples of common sense (or lack thereof) that I would like to share with you. One is local in nature, the other is worldwide.
Last Sunday morning, at about noon, I went out to take care of a couple of errands; (1) I needed to get some cash from the ATM machine at the bank and (2) I wanted to have the propane tank from my barbeque filled at the gas station (the only gas station in the area that carries propane gas). It just so happens that the bank and gas station are practically next door to each other, so under normal circumstances, it's a pretty simple errand - pull into the bank parking lot, get the cash, pull out of the bank parking lot, drive down the alley and pull into the gas station. Easy, usually - but not so easy this past Sunday.
I had totally forgotten that the city authorizes a "farmer's market" on Sunday mornings which closes down the street and alley - the street and alley I need to get to the bank and gas station. Now, it is possible to get to the gas station and bank through another route - a more complicated route involving back-tracking and U-turns - and that is exactly what I had to do. Now you may say, "Well, you were put out a little but so what? You did what you needed to do and if it took you a little longer to do it, big deal. Anyway, you should have remembered about the Sunday farmer's market and rescheduled your errands for another time." But that's not the point.
The thing is, that the street and alley are public thoroughfares and the gas station and ATM machines that are on that street are open that day, presumably in order to do business. As the guy filled my propane tank I looked over to the "farmer's market." Although there are still stalls that sell fresh fruits and vegetables, the vast majority of the area is devoted either to ready-to-eat fast foods (like tamales, snow cones, hot roasted peanuts, and hot dogs) or craft items or rides for the kids. Okay, that's fine, but that's not a farmer's market, that's a fair or carnival.
After I took care of my two errands and was heading back home I passed one of the area's large tree-shaded city parks. It was absolutely empty. Now, I'm no city planning maven, but it seems to me that a weekly neighborhood carnival would be better suited to all concerned if it were held in one of the beautiful parks we have around town instead of blocking off public thoroughfares and hampering businesses. These parks are sitting empty and are much more people-friendly than an asphalt street. Common sense?
That same Sunday evening I listened to President Bush's address to the nation. He issued an international call for help in Iraq and asked Congress for an additional $87 billion to help pay for U.S. operations there and in Afghanistan. He quite correctly described the conflict in Iraq as a crucial fight between civilization and terrorism that will determine the future of the entire Middle East (and possibly the world, in my opinion). He said, "The Middle East will either become a place of progress and peace, or it will be an exporter of violence and terror. Iraq is now the central front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there - and there they must be defeated." I completely agree with the president on that.
I also agree that the rest of the free world, Europe in particular, needs to help pay the cost of turning what were hostile West-hating incubators of terrorism into democratic nations. Cutting out the cancer that is terrorism in the Middle East is a huge and expensive task, but when it is done it will benefit all free nations on earth, Europe especially. The United States can't and shouldn't be expected to foot the bill alone.
Besides western civilization and other freedom-loving countries, the other beneficiaries of the victory on the war on terrorism, of course, will be the people who live in the middle of it all - the people in these Islamic countries. Once the dictators, militant Mullahs and despots are eradicated, plain, ordinary people will be free to live in peace, go to school and make decent lives for themselves and their families. The fact is the people of the Middle East will actually benefit the most. Which is why they need to help pay for this war on terror - more than anyone else. And that brings me to my next common sense argument.
The Middle Eastern countries that we have helped liberate are rich in oil resources. Those oil resources should be tapped into to pay for the war. The Iraqis have the wealth within their boarders to help pay the cost of their own freedom. Freedom never comes without a price to pay. All free people on earth know this. The Iraqis need to pay for our help, and the help of our allies, with part of their countries treasure. It is the right and fair thing to do. It also makes good sense that these people invest something in their own future. Common sense? Yeah . I think so.
Oops - no room left for my column this week. Sorry. I got carried away with common sense.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.