Our country has changed, deep down in its soul, and I am not sure who she is any more. We are angry at one another. We have insulted and harmed each other through abusive national discourse and now sit glaring at one another, truly angry and unable to tolerate much in the way of reconciliation.
We have elected a loose cannon as President – a man whose business practices and personal mores are despicable – a man whose entire adult life represents the worst of America and her capitalistic excesses – a man who made himself rich trampling everything designed to protect people and things which require protection from unbridled capitalism and greed. He is the President we deserve, I guess, as we seem to be a nation of hateful, selfish people. We have lost the middle ground – all of us. For instance, no longer can we safely and sanely discuss a humane and just way to keep immigrant families together. It has devolved into a national brawl of the extremes. No one wants freeloaders clogging up the system, not even hard working illegal immigrants whose sweat and tears are just as real and as hard-earned as our own, we who are descendants of illegal immigrants to the last man. We need to sanely discuss immigration then make humane and fair changes.
The hateful discourse has hardened our hearts. I literally cannot stand any more of the Fox News rhetoric and that ilk. It is like Antabuse to an alcoholic. It makes me instantly sick. I feel bad that people I love seem to be blissfully unaware they have been emotionally manipulated and – yes – how racist, homophobic, and all the other unfortunate “ist” and “ic” terms for undesirable human behavior that Fox rhetoric genuinely is.
Alternatively, people who consume Fox rhetoric cannot stand the stinging barbs of satire and irony the “liberals” and the Left use in their rebuttals in the national discourse. They have had their fill of being abused in this way because they do not consider themselves racist or homophobic. In their daily lives and actions most of them quite likely are neither racist nor homophobic. It is a question of degree, I think.
Now we are truly angry at one another. Every issue blooms into a huge firestorm of hateful spite. I understood the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement instantly. American citizens are killed with impunity by police all over the country and nothing is done to stop it. Even women and children are gunned down. It is an established fact that black people are harmed by institutionalized racism, even to the point of death but instead of Black Lives Matter engendering a dialogue between decent, rational, concerned human beings, it touched off a reactionary firestorm of All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Folks! These are not mutually exclusive schools of thought! The irony of All Lives Matter seems to blissfully escape the most strident defenders of that particular group. If indeed all lives matter then Black Lives Matter would never have sprung from the mean streets of our American cities. We would have come together to tackle this horrific problem of innocent people being gunned down before our very eyes long before the need for a Black Lives Matter movement ever came about.
I could go on. Environmental issues demand our immediate and undivided attention. We MUST do something quickly or our children and grandchildren will pay an unbelievably painful price for our selfish inaction. Instead of combining our might and considerable creative resources to resolve these issues, we are divided and angry and nothing meaningful gets done except for the few who profit mightily at our expense.
My spirit quails at the thought of this madness as being deliberately engineered by the rich and powerful. People become rich and powerful by manipulating everything around them and through radical opportunism. Of course there are powerful groups – think tanks and various organizations everywhere - that clinically promote particular agendas. A little excursion into the history of our railroads is a nasty, despicable lesson on everything from genocide to wholesale government corruption, bribery, thievery and murder. Not much has changed since then. Our national consciousness has been bamboozled by the minions of the greediest and most corrupt to the point where we are literally at each other’s throat while they make off with all the money and destroy the planet while they are at it. We fight like cats and dogs and try to pin the blame on whatever whipping boy our national media chooses for the week. It does not serve you or me. We deserve better.
Not everyone wants or needs to be a billionaire. No matter what color we are, what our first language may be or what our religion, gender or political persuasion may be, we all want the same things. We want to work and pay our own way. We want affordable and equitable education for our children. We want and DESERVE affordable health care. We want competent and principled police forces. We want authentic and just representation in our government. We want equitable taxation for EVERYONE, including corporations and the rich. We need clean air, clean soil, clean water or we will not survive. We want to live in peace with the people we love for all the days of our lives. Americans can have that. We are already rich enough. We simply need to sit down with our neighbors and find common ground. We must work together to change our government, to rid it of corruption. Politicians must be held accountable to “we, the people”. We must stop listening to the voices that say this one or that one is to blame. WE are to blame. WE are the responsible party.
I do not know when or if civil discourse will return. This election we became painfully aware of our differences of opinion - among good friends, within families. The solution is to become aware of our commonality, to find the middle ground and value that far above our differences. Maybe that is the point of beginning.