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Posted: July 16, 2010 12:00 a.m.

The quiet streets

My father was an ordained minister who emigrated from Bulgaria in 1939. He spent the last 23 years of his working life as an editor, writer, broadcaster and assistant desk chief for the Bulgarian Desk of the Voice of America. Before the VOA, he was a specialist for the Office of War Information during World War II. The U.S. was his adopted home and he had great affection and concern for its future.

After retiring at age 70, he spent time at his trusty little portable typewriter composing fictional stories, poetry and his thoughts on life, growth through education, Biblical accounts and life in America. I’m working my way through three four-inch thick volumes.

In 1973, he wrote the following: "As I see it…the hope for America lies in a bloodless revolution through the ballot and legislation; more than a revival. A rebirth, hope for the future, the will to eliminate the parasites leeched to the nation’s body. The central word here, I would say, is elimination. Eliminate the unqualified candidate for election or re-election. Eliminate the stupid bureaucrat, the sold-out congressman, the corrupted official, the money-mad corporate executive. Eliminate all unnecessary agencies, both federal and local, and put a bridle upon those who have grown in power out of proportion to their responsibilities. Eliminate the power-mad tycoon. For all this we need honest, fearless and dedicated men and women, millions of them."

Shortly after many banks in this country were failing, after the housing market was swallowed in a sink-hole and after people’s jobs vanished, I had breakfast with a pastor friend of mine from an adjoining county. He told me of a sermon he preached based on the Old Testament account in Exodus chapter 32. Moses had gone to the mountain to meet with God and receive the tablets with the Ten Commandments. While he was gone, the "people of God" had collected all jewelry from the women, melted the gold and created a golden calf which they then worshipped. When Moses came down from the mountain, he was furious and took the golden calf and ground it to dust. The sermon raised the issue of today’s golden calf — greed.

All of us, yes all, business moguls, elected officials of all stripes and ordinary citizens are greedy. (How honest are we on income taxes? If we get too much change do we keep it? If we are over-paid, do we fess up? Etc.) Greed is our golden calf. We worship at the altar of greed.

Now, I don’t pretend to understand how God works. But the issue for me is not whether God has ground our golden calf or if it was self-induced. The issue is, said my pastor friend in his sermon, what are we going to do now? Will we resume our old ways? Will greed still be the motivator?

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the ’60s for equality of the races, against a fault-filled war effort based on the domino theory and for women’s rights. Their actions forced a reluctant Congress and president into action.

The Tea Partiers are not focused on one priority as the demonstrators in the ’60s, so are not very effective. Our campuses are quiet even though it is those students who will be handed a mess. The poor have no voice. The not-by-choice homeless have no champion. The jobless lose hope. And the streets are quiet.

Back to my Papa’s writings of 1973. Based on his words and the emotion behind them 37 years ago, I’d say things have not changed much except that we are now paying the price for "the stupid bureaucrat, the sold-out congressman, the corrupted official, the money-mad corporate executive…we need honest, fearless and dedicated men and women, millions of them." So where are they?

We, you and I, need to be in the voting booth, in the stock-holders meetings, writing letters to the editor and marching in the streets. All that will make a difference, but only if we act. This is the time for us to clean house (spelled g-r-e-e-d) from national and state legislative bodies to corporate board rooms…agree to show our faces and make our voices heard. It’s time to make noise and believe that together, we can make a difference.

Bob Furnad is a resident of Covington and the former president of CNN Headline News.

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