A Rocky Republic Indeed

So much to choose from, so little time. Riots, insurrection, Covid death count, lockdowns, lock-ups, unemployment, billionaires, catastrophic, unprecedented, monumental, unacceptable, incomparable, typical. What did you expect? Where are we going? Are we there yet? Haven’t we been here before? Is it cold outside, or is it just me? Lot’s of questions, so few answers? What a week, period. 

Browsing the headlines can make ones’ head ache these days, even crusty old craniums like mine. But tough times make for tough people. Resilience, they say, is the coin of the realm. Shag it out and let it dry. Eventually, it will regain its original shape. Or will it? Might the fabric be stretched, the corners upturned and the thread worn down just a degree or two?   

Why all the shouting on a cold January day? Why can’t we all just get along? Is it something about us, an inherent human flaw, deeply embedded into our beings that prompts so many to reach for the sword before the tumult dies, the question is understood, the answer considered? When did we leave the reasonable harbor of civil disagreement and sail into the angry sea of accusation, demonization, and ultimately, hatred of those who have a different idea than us? Beats me, I don’t know much about these things. I guess we never saw it coming. But did we see it coming, and just choose to ignore what was right in front of us?

For at least half of my time on earth, the temperature in America has been rising in ways not attributable to climate change. Pick your poison, name your cause; endless war, taxes, migration, economic disparity, job loss, debt, too much education, too little education, racism, elitism, liberalism, conservatism, progressivism, fascism, socialism, patriotism, environmentalism. Did I miss an ism? Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. It doesn’t matter. Stake your ground; plant your lawn sign, fly your flag and flip the bird to those who see it differently than you. It’s the new American way.

When the Founders were endeavoring to create a more perfect union and not a perfect union, James Madison, both knowledgeable of civilization and human nature, pondered failed governments throughout history and noted the horrors that had befallen nations divided. He feared political parties and saw them as the vessel of factionalism and disunity. Madison knew a thing or two. 

We have willingly climbed under our rocks of ideological, myopic atrophy, comfortably sated by a media that thinks just like us. Change the channel and find your ideology. Hug your Rachel, kiss your Tucker, make them rich, but who’s the sucker?  Social media war zones fuel the mix. Add in a generous dash of pandemic-laced isolation, resistance and paranoia. Don’t forget the special sauce offered by our politicians. Rest assured they are just like us, only smarter about how to promote division and monetize discord. The message is always the same; support us and save the country from them. And yet we wonder how a January 6th could ever have happened here.

Perhaps things will level off, temperatures cool, wisdom prevail. Ah, wisdom, that sublime quality we seem quite short of these days. Apparently it can’t be taught in school. We’ve never claimed to be more educated nor acted more stupidly. What matters most to me is that we right the ship and change our misguided course. Dump the extremists, who hate us for our flawed history, and toss them overboard in the same bin with the hustlers and the ideologues who promise to make us all great again, just like we were before. They only offer another reason for us to hate each other, pipe dreams of a past that never existed, and the shallow promise of a future that will never be. The water is always deeper in the center, that’s where the big ships go.

This would be an excellent time to just be good to each other – plain and simple. Especially to those who look, speak, think and claim to be different from us. We all share the same space and time, and that time is very limited. Our only guarantee is our final destiny, and we all get the same one.  And were this the last day, would we think about things differently?

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