America’s Breath of Life
A heart pounding life-or-death drama from a Florida expressway recently gave hope to America. It also serves as an inspiration to reawaken the nation through courage, compassion, and community.
A woman driving on a Florida expressway pulled over screaming for help when her 5-month-old nephew stopped breathing on the afternoon of Feb. 20. Motorists stuck in traffic rushed to help Pamela Rauseo perform CPR on her nephew, Sebastian de la Cruz, on the Dolphin Expressway in Miami. Photographer Al Diaz was behind Rauseo and helped get the attention of a police officer, who then aided in resuscitation efforts. The baby boy was taken to a hospital, where he was listed as stable.
This incident captures all that is great about America and symbolically reminds us of our need for a resuscitating breath of life. We are suffering from a crisis of character evident in continuous corruption headlines. Government, corporate, sports, entertainment, and even faith-based scandals are never ending.
America’s Culture of Corruption
For example, on Jan. 3, 2006, lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, tax evasion, and mail fraud, agreeing to fully cooperate in an influence peddling investigation that threatened powerful members of Congress.
He agreed with U.S. District Judge Ellen Havelle that he engaged in a conspiracy involving corruption of public officials as well as a scheme to provide campaign contributions, trips, and other items in exchange for certain official acts. His plea agreement recommended a sentence of 9.5 to 11 years providing he cooperates with federal prosecutors in the corruption investigation focusing on 21 members of Congress and their aides. He was sentenced to six years in federal prison for mail fraud, conspiracy to bribe public officials, and tax evasion and ordered to pay $23,164,695 in restitution to victims.
Along with Abramoff, 21 others either pleaded or were found guilty, including White House officials, a U.S. representative, and 9 other lobbyists and congressional aides. Abramoff served 43 months before his release on Dec. 3, 2010.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, during congressional testimony on March 25, 2009, crystallized our corruption crisis with the following statistics:
- 2,500 pending cases of public corruption, which was a 58 percent increase since 2003
- 60 percent increase in FBI agents working public corruption cases over the previous 5 years
- 1,618 convictions of federal, state, and local officials in the previous 2 years alone
New York City’s Recent Corruption Scandal
Corruption recently reared its ugly head in New York City on Jan. 7 when charges were brought against 106 people in a huge fraud over disability scheme. Many of the 72 city police officers and eight firefighters named in the 205-count indictment attributed mental disorders to the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet investigations and Facebook activities documented their lives of intense physical activity, international travel, and frivolity.
New York City Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton remarked, “The retired members of the NYPD indicted in this case have disgraced all first responders who perished during the search and rescue efforts on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who subsequently died from 9/11-related illness, by exploiting their involvements on that tragic day for personal gain.”
Responding to the Crisis
This crisis has been cultivated over generations and it will take time to transform America to our rightful destiny of character. Aside from the criticality of enhanced character education initiatives for youth in our schools, we would do well to reflect on the life of Abraham Lincoln. From his early days of studying by the fireside as a young boy to his rise to the presidency, Lincoln’s courage and perseverance in the face of great adversity must ignite America’s transformation.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com