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Friday, July 9, 2021

Are We All In This Together?

An email from a reader this week asked me to remind Alaskans, and myself, to “appeal to the better angels of our nature.”

I’ve been rolling around that phrase, “better angels,” for days. It was first used by Shakespeare in his play, “Othello,” later by Charles Dickens in his novel “Barnaby Ridge,” and still later by President Abraham Lincoln in his inaugural address. (His secretary of state, William Seward, added it to the draft. Yes, our Seward, the guy who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.)

With Alaska news outlets reporting daily on the fiscal crisis facing our state, it’s easy to focus not on our better angels but on the craven politicians who got us into this mess. We Alaskans are suffering from more than a busted state treasury. We’ve seen adversity and strife before, and we’ve pulled ourselves through, as Alaskans. Now it feels as if we’ve forgotten who we are. Full-blown identity crisis.

Well, OK, not all of us. I saw a couple of Alaskans dealing with adversity by calling upon their better angels just last week: Jeff King was one of two mushers attacked by a drunken snowmachiner along the Iditarod Trail. He lost 20 percent of his team, including the death of a dog named Nash. I’m a huge fan of King and was horrified by what happened. Same for Aliy Zirkle, who also was run over in the same incident and yet continued the race and finished in the top 10.

I know King personally and knew he would make the best of a difficult situation. He’s one of my favorite Alaskans for just that reason. He didn’t fail me. When we spoke, he expressed compassion for the 26-year-old man who plowed into his team. If you read comments on news stories, you know Arnold Demoski was suddenly the most hated man in Alaska. Suggestions for his punishment were severe.

But King told me he’d sooner give Demoski a job than send him to prison. King understands life can be hard in a place where you have access to alcohol, drugs and a vehicle that goes fast, but not much opportunity or hope for the future. He had compassion.

Maybe it’s going a bit far to ask WWJD — What Would Jeff  Do — about the current state of Alaska affairs, but it’s nonetheless humbling to see real grace and mercy. (Grace defined as getting something good you don’t deserve, and mercy being not getting something bad you do deserve.)

These days, so much of the rhetoric we hear seems to flow from the worse angels of our nature. That’s true on both a national and state level. But as Alaskans we don’t have to look that far back for examples of pulling together rather than apart. Those who were here during the 1964 earthquake remember well how our neighbors helped each other, and how, when the chips were really down, we understood we were all in it together.

A lot of us can recall 1998, when oil traded for $8 a barrel and our economy crashed — hard. It was rough, but we made it through. Now we Alaskans are paying oil companies $5 to $8 a barrel to look for oil. In the midst of a scary fiscal crisis. Our Legislature and former governor elevated the financial well-being of a handful corporations over everything else. Are Alaskans really willing to compromise the education of our children in order to protect generous benefits bestowed on the oil industry?

We’re better than that. The Republican majority in the Legislature isn’t, but you are.

Face it, our Legislature is a captive of the oil industry. The Republicans controlling the Legislature spent money they should have saved, funded white elephant projects they should have killed, and showered profitable corporations with tax breaks. Now the devil is here to collect his due, and the legislative majority is willingly sacrificing the education of children, the well-being of senior citizens and the health of the working poor. Friends, that’s not “we’re all in it together,” that’s “protect the strong at the expense of the weak.”

It’s corruption trying to pass itself off as governance.

I believe we’re better than that. But if we are, when will we rise up and act like Alaskans — as if we are indeed, all in this together?



4 Responses to “Are We All In This Together?”
    • mike from iowa says:

      Thankx,Dagian. My local undertaker is currently out of brain bleach so it is off to the Crematorium for mikey.

  1. mike from iowa says:

    We’re better than that. The Republican majority in the Legislature isn’t, but you are.

    Truer words have never been spoken. It isn’t just Alaska that has been led astray. Hopefully,this the year Dems get off their sorry excuse for butts and turn the tide and sweep America blue- its rightful color. Booyah, godbloodydamnit!!

    Keep it coming, Ms Moore.

  2. Tallimat says:

    King’s response is spot on. Correct. Insightful and worldly. There is a depth of thought. Something that makes the world turn.

    Shane’s response is classic loser. See E. Warrens Twitter communication about the current GOP front runner in the presidential race, for reference.

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