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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What's Really Important?

Vanessa Rini-Lopez and Steve Lopez

The constitution of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy served as a model for the U.S. Constitution. With the 2008 elections coming up, think about using the Seventh Generation precept of the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) as a model to help you determine what issues are truly important. This precept requires that chiefs consider the impact of their decisions on the seventh generation.

A lot of media pundits said that President Bush won the 2004 election because of his position on "moral" issues, by getting Gay Marriage proposals on ballots in key states. It is one thing for the Catholic Church or other organized religions to decide not to marry people of the same sex. There is a separation of church and state in this country, and it therefore seems like Gay couples should be allowed to be married in civil ceremonies. What was accomplished by choosing our President based on his or her stance on Gay marriage?

Was our mission in Iraq accomplished? Have all the residential areas affected by Hurricane Katrina been rebuilt? Have the number of children living in poverty declined? We wonder what the seventh generation will think when they read in history books that George W. Bush won the Presidential election in part because of his position on gay marriage. Ask yourself, which are the issues that really impact our lives? Which issues will impact the seventh generation? Which one will people seven generations from now care about? Remember, there is a significant difference between hype and importance.

The candidates are talking about Iraq, but you almost never hear anything about Afghanistan. Is fighting a war on "terrorism" by continuing to send troops into what seems like a no-win situation of our own making in Iraq and a situation in Afghanistan that we don't even hear about anymore going to protect us from another 9/11? No one wants this to happen again. On 9/11 Steve was working in his office across from the Pentagon. Shortly after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, he and his colleagues could feel the explosion of the fuel tanks at the Pentagon.

On September 10, 2001, Vanessa was in the Trade Center in New York City trying to figure out which train to take. On September 11th she was stranded in the Bronx because she could not get back to Manhatten. On September 12th she watched the smoke billowing from where she had been two days before as she left the city. Will the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prevent this from happening again? What will people 150 years from now think of the U.S.'s military action in both of these countries?

Immigration is already a hotly contested issue in the 2008 presidential election debates. Candidates receive rounds of applause when they support building a border fence across the 2000 mile U.S./Mexico border. But, is building a fence really going to slow down or stop poor Latin American people migrating to the U.S. to escape starvation, poverty, and oppression; which are often precipitated by policies such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)?

How will building a fence across the U.S./Mexico border impact the environment, human rights, or the relationship with Latin America? What do the tribal nations of the Kumeyaay, the Cocopah, the Tohono O'odham, and the Kickapoo think about the U.S. government putting a fence through their land? What will future generations think if a fence is erected?

Health care is going to be another key issue in the 2008 election. A December 28, 2007 AP-Yahoo News shows two-thirds of Americans should adopt a universal health care plan. Is it important to have a choice in your heath care, or is it more important to actually have health care? It's important to have a choice in whom and how your health care is delivered. However not everyone has a choice because health care costs money, money that the poor, the unemployed, and children just can't afford. We are sure this is an issue future generations will care about because our health has a direct impact on the health of our descendants.

Policy decisions made by our government affect us more than we realize. It is vital to have all the facts on an issue in order to make an informed, unbiased decision for the benefit of society as a whole when we cast our vote next November. Keep these words from the constitution of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy ( in mind when making decisions.

Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground - the unborn of the future Nation

Vanessa Rini-Lopez and Steve Lopez's Column appears every Wednesday

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