A profound political animus characterizes modern American discourse. Some say it is the worst in the history of the republic. The various sides, perhaps a half-dozen or so, clamor for a hearing. If we haven’t reached a boiling point, it doesn’t appear to be far off.
Perhaps a moment of meditation on the larger picture would be salutary.
(1) Democracy is messy. And loud. In totalitarian countries—Russia, Cuba, Iran, et al.—-you don’t get messes; you get murders. Not discourse but death. In Mexico’s current (July, 2018) election campaign, 162 politicians have been killed. Americans have always believed in preserving our constitutional personal rights—which are truly rare in the earth—is worth the mess.
(2) Being right on every subject is a challenging feat, given the multiplicity of views held by over 320 million people. If a family of four has communication challenges, how can we be surprised that we experience it in the society at large?
(3) Considering this shocking fact would be helpful: it may be that the person you are differing with may know something you don’t. Or attaches a value to his position which you don’t. Maybe can’t. All of us should be careful about shaming or shushing a person because he or she is not quite as intelligent as we are.
(4) It is also helpful to focus on the larger picture at times. Horrible as it is for children, for instance, to be separated from their mothers at the border, rational people believe it to be unthinkable for America to have no borders. The babies will be OK if we can solve the border problem. Not perfect, but OK. But if we don’t solve the border problem, it won’t be long until we have little left of the America our founders envisioned. Then, all of us, babies included, will be in terrible shape. The undeniable, scientifically demonstrative proof is called “Europe.” (As an aside: have you noticed that the leftists who emote most passionately for the babies on the border have not a single tear to shed for the more than 60 million aborted babies who were not allowed to live in America, or anywhere else on the globe? They chose burials, not babies.)
(5) There should be a law (!) against noisily espousing any position on an issue if you do not vote. That means you’re a bag of hot air, hypocritical, and should not be taken seriously. Yes, we all want better candidates, but the only sane approach to binary elections is to vote the platform, not the person.
Is this the worst time in American history? Not by a long shot! In the Revolutionary War, the nation was in true peril. Many British loyalists would not fight for our freedom, some spied on us for the Brits, and many fled to Canada to get out of the fray. In WWI, every major city in the nation saw robust antagonism, and often, huge demonstrations against sending Americans to die for Europe’s salvation. Same with WWII. Many historians believe our president literally tricked the American people into joining the Allies. Then the troubles named “Korea” and “Viet Nam,” and the “Middle East.”
Toughest times? What about the Great Depression in the ’30’s? What about the fact that four of our duly elected presidents have been murdered? As have other political and religious figures. And we are world-famous for vitriol against our politicians. I don’t recall any non-American accusing us, ever, of being shy about sharing our opinions.
Only the psychologically distorted can enjoy what we’re going through, but Americans who know America are convinced—by God’s grace and our grit—we will get through this Homeric “rock and a hard place” of Scylla and Charybdis. And go on to produce another cacophony about, well, whatever shows up. But don’t wait for quietude.
Perhaps an appropriate place to close this note is with a statement of one of those assassinated presidents. In his second inaugural address, within weeks of the end of a war that had cost over 700,000 American lives, Lincoln pled for the preservation of the union. “We will,” he said, “nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope on earth,” i.e., a government of, by, and for the people. Does his rhetoric sound high-flown? It happens to have been, and still is truth as solid as Alpine granite.
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