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Double Down

Before stepping up to a slot machine, try a real gamble.

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I suppose we all believe in the game of chance. Sometimes we choose to enter that contest -- be it for singing, the local raffle or the interview for which one might not be fully qualified. "Just give me a chance!" we plead ... with coaches, bosses, spouses, lovers and friends.

We don't mind taking a risk, it seems. But there are many of us, myself included, with serious reservations over what some scholars call "America's gambling explosion" ... especially now that it's coming here to Pittsburgh.

It's certainly not the moralist in me, despite my stage name: Dr. Goddess is not a fundamentalist, by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, what concerns me most is the social service, holistic community aspect. And it worries me more now than it did in the past.

That's not because what used to be considered illegal is legal: Some "laws" are unlawful (see "Segregation, 1950") while others are unjust (see "Illegal Use of Medicinal Marijuana"). What worries me is gambling once it is combined with the extent of mass consumerism in this country -- a consumerism coupled with corporatization and transnational mergers that are frightening to human beings. Maybe a slot machine seems harmless by comparison. Maybe it even seems like a way out.

But we didn't get to Enron by a fluke. We didn't arrive at "selected" U.S. presidents by happenstance. And we, the American public, are not pelted with inanity -- the Anna Nicole Smiths and the Paris Hiltons of the world -- as a result of some newsroom error.

Speaking of newsroom error, I am amazed at WPXI's traffic coverage these days, with smoking cars and graphic explosions that look more like a video game than news to be taken seriously. But that's just it, isn't it? We are not being taken seriously. And perhaps it's because we do not demand to be.

I don't believe that the American people are as silly and inept as we are portrayed; but, then again, I'm having to convince people everyday that the black people you see on television are mostly fictions of a white suburban imagination and a fat paycheck (please see Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle). I have to convince them that so-called "gangsta rap" is a complete fabrication, made up in some corporate boardroom somewhere.

Someone once told me that "we get the leadership we deserve." I rebelled against that belief in the past. But if we are to remain silent about the paltry leadership we have seen in this country -- and in the city of Pittsburgh -- then, yes, we will get the leadership we deserve. But I, for one, refuse to be represented by unintelligent, selfish, greedy and otherwise inept individuals who pass themselves off as "leaders" ... simply because 80 percent of the public does not vote, and at least half of those who do tend to be somewhat misinformed or misled.

I always hear preachers say, "Faith without works is dead." Well, Pittsburgh, I find it rather interesting that we scuttle about playing every game of chance we can think of -- from the Pennsylvania Lottery to our private card games, our bingo nights and even our Deal or No Deal -- but what we have yet to fully invest in is ourselves. Why not support the candidate you believe in? Why not simply write a letter, organize, organize, organize and make your voice heard for what you believe in?

We all learned in grade school that a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion. Our slots parlors prove we don't mind taking a chance ... but we do seem afraid to make a leap of faith, particularly when that faith resides in, and can be encompassed by, another human being. Instead of soaking in your own fear, apathy and further disengagement, why not take a leap of faith for yourself and our city-wide community?

Dr. Goddess Says: Take a chance on yourself

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