- July 1, 2021
The following is reprinted from the Aug. 24 Sarasota Observer.
We cannot give up.
Every day, it seems, you hear your family members, friends and co-workers lament — with obvious angst and distress — the state of America.
Surely you’ve had the conversation: “What’s happening? Where does this end up?”
Wrote a friend recently: “It is getting harder to recognize the country we grew up in. Like all societies, we have a history of conflict, but what does the future look like in the face of white nationalists battling left-wing, identity-politics extremists and an absence of moral leadership?”
Another: “Everywhere you turn, it seems we are ruled by the minority mob of the day, whether pulling down statues, preventing speakers at universities, Congress dysfunction … Then the media pumping up these minorities to look like majorities. Nothing presented in real world perspective.”
Another told me he can’t bear to tune in to the national news. It’s an endless carpet-bombing of strife, confrontation, destruction, dysfunction, hate, blood. He said his wife, equally distressed, suggested the idea having dual citizenship in another country. “Why would she even think that?” he said.
Because she, like so many, are battle and war fatigued. Not because of the war on terror, but because of the social and political wars at home. We have neo-Nazi-, antifa-, Black Lives Matter-, fake news-, Washington, D.C., swamp-inflicted PTSD.
at war and don’t know it
What, indeed, has happened to the country in which we grew up? The country where we all stood at the beginning of the day, from elementary through high school, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance — “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? The country where we learned English grammar, how to diagram sentences and write in cursive? Where we learned manners, courtesy, respect and the Golden Rule? Where parents taught you to say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” and “Yes, sir” and “No, sir”? Where sisters taught their younger brothers before their first high school dates: Always open the door for the lady? Where our outlook was that we could do anything — reach the moon, Mars! — if we put our mind to it and worked? Where tattoos were practically taboo?
In an interview with a Civil War scholar, the scholar noted that not since the Civil War has the national discord reached the level it is today. “We’re in a civil war,” a friend lamented, “we just don’t know it.”
Or we’re spiraling in that direction ever faster.
Over the past 17 years we have seen what feels like and is unprecedented, visceral contempt for our presidents — Bush II, Obama and Trump, especially Trump. If you try dispassionately to observe the events coming out of the nation’s capital since Trump’s election, it’s difficult not to believe there is a concerted and orchestrated effort on both sides, and in the D.C. press, to thwart and topple Donald Trump. It’s more vicious than we’ve ever witnessed.
Sure, Trump doesn’t help himself. On Aug. 21, he delivers a commanding speech befitting the president of the United States. On Aug. 22, he goes off the teleprompter and the rails and falls back to street fighter mode — unbefitting of the president of the United States. He has a compulsion to get in the last word, the last dig.
He’s not helping.
media aids and abets
Neither are the national news media and social media. The national news media (it’s more like national opinion media) fuel the nation’s fissures with their 24-7 efforts to fill airtime. They thrive on conflict and confrontation. People smashing windows and punching one another, and strident liberals and conservatives yelling at each other — they make great TV. They attract eyeballs. And these days the national news media are all about the eyeballs and clicks. Newsrooms have monitors showing what stories generate website clicks; it’s all about the numbers. Americans with our smartphones are addicted to mainlining news.
This only aids and abets the nation’s strife. The fringe extremists and agitators crave attention. They love it when newsies show up with cameras and stick a microphone in front of their foul-mouthed mugs.
Social media inflames them even more. It’s the gas that spreads the hellfire. And there’s no turning back. Social media is ingrained in our culture. It gives everyone a platform to be ugly, incendiary and spread their extremist, political venereal diseases at the speed of light.
All of this, at times, especially since Trump’s inauguration, has felt overwhelming, creating a feeling of helplessness.
We must turn the tide.
It’s difficult to think Donald Trump can do what Ronald Reagan did — provide the leadership that resurrects the America we know and love. But he issued a call Aug. 21 that is a start. They were his finest words.
To restore the America where we grew up, the silent majority; the law-abiding, patriotic Americans; the people who do what is right; the people who believe in the duty of good citizenship; the people who try to practice the Golden Rule, who live by the 10 Commandments and who pray must remain steadfast and have faith. Continue to love and teach our children and grandchildren what is right. Teach them the Marine code: To do the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons.
How we live our lives is the best way to end this strife.