Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Wednesday rant...

     A gaggle of children singing the national anthem at a minor league baseball game on a hot summer night.  Old men wearing their VFW hats and carrying flags and leading the Fourth of July parade on Main Street, Somewhere.  A man with the lines of hard, honest work cut deep into his face and hands, standing up in the town hall meeting of a Rockwell painting exercising freedom of speech.  Sunday dinner.  Law enforcement folks pulled to the side of the road and saluting a passing funeral procession.  Boy Scouts putting flags on military graves, Memorial Day weekend.  Grainy, dark photographs of souls taking their first steps on Ellis Island.  Fireworks and cold watermelon on the Fourth of July.  "Blue Suede Shoes."  Nashville.  Motown. America and Americana used to be quite a tapestry.  It took many different forms, but we knew it when we saw it, heard it or tasted it.    But I fear what used to be a tapestry is now becoming  a  Picasso with three ears.  We now work way too hard at turning our pieces of the puzzle into islands.

     When the need arose we used to be able to put differences aside and bow up and fight a good fight.  Now good fights seem to serve only to divide us further.  "WE" are no longer an "US."   There's no need to draw battle lines with other countries - we're too damn busy drawing them amongst ourselves.  You're a liberal or conservative, a republican or a democrat or a tea-partier.  You're white or black, your Hispanic, you're Asian.  In short, you're ME or you're everyone else!  We can't help ourselves, though.  We're only following the example set by our leaders, the ones WE elected.  They're no longer problem-solving.  They're no longer governing.  They're no longer engaged in our best interests.  They're only working on re-election.  "YOUR guy got elected?  Well then it's time for THIS side of the aisle to denigrate, destroy and belittle.   There's GOT to be a scandal somewhere and, by God, we'll find it!"   One day we (or our children or our grandchildren) will wish that we had approached issues like global warming, the economy and human rights from something other than a political perspective.

     I asked a good friend who is not American and lives in another country to be truthful with me and describe the reputation we have among folks in her part of the world.  I wasn't surprised to hear her say that she loves Americans but that we can be (in her words) "cold."  I'm quite sure that the "cold" she hears when doing her job (which brings her into contact with co-workers in the States) was born in the mindset that the rest of planet earth should busy themselves stepping and fetching for us.  I wasn't surprised because we certainly allow this same sense of entitlement to affect interaction with each other.  In things as simple driving habits (I'M GOING TO CUT YOU OFF BECAUSE MY TIME IS MORE VALUABLE THAN YOURS!")  to the more complex issues of equality and freedoms and rights.  Along those lines, I've decided to put any and all other career aspirations aside and become a "community activist."  There seems to be great money in protecting the interests of those like yourself.  Only the key is to make sure that every single circumstance that befalls those just like you is an injustice intentionally perpetrated by everyone that's not just like you...NOT random happenstance!  So get ready fat middle-aged white guys who like beer and football - you're about to have a spokesman!!

     There's strength in numbers AND diversity.  Only we're no longer diversity working for a common good.  Now we're a bunch of spoiled children crammed into the same playground fighting over time on the monkey bars.  It's sad.

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