It must be incredibly hard to be given the medical news you have an incurable disease. To know the end of life is now near, but unable to do anything about it is the very definition of helplessness. Although I don’t know anyone in that situation personally, I’m afraid I know too well a group of people all in that dire situation: Americans. Citizens of the United States. You and I.
Unfortunately slightly less than half of us refuse to see the very real danger in our political environment. While slightly more than half of us are getting way too much pleasure witnessing the unraveling of the office of president of these United States. It is now almost as hard to watch the preponderance of accusers as it always has been hard to watch the apologists. The major networks are all guilty of excess and We the People are left without clarity, without objectivity, without apparent truth.
Internally our disease is like a cancer in that one previously useful group of cells becomes destructive of all the surrounding cells. Once simply an opinion or philosophical point of view has now become an almost religiously held law. We can no longer look at the people across the street and say, “They may have a point but I want to know more.” Political discourse for both sides is now continual accusation laced with hate. We are no longer Democrats or Republicans who argue respectfully at each election and eventually come together to get the important work of the republic done. We are each others enemies.
More than being hateful toward one another, we have come to distrust (at our leader’s behest) our national institutions. The same institutions which protect us from the ill will of our traditional enemies — Russia and China. The same institutions which — despite a very few miscues — have kept this nation by and large secure and protected from the latest threats of cyber warfare. The same institutions dedicated to uncover any plot against this country. And we do so by preferring the words of one man. On top of all that we have gravitated toward groups which define “right” as any idea or person which protects the small individual cultural, racial or religious group with which we identify.
Also at the behest of our leader we are questioning (read doubting) the innate good that our country has always stood for, sometimes in the face of overwhelming opposition. The passing of John McCain reminded some of us how much we once believed in the mission of our country. We all once believed the people we elected to serve us had our best interests in mind, but also would do the “right” thing both domestically and internationally.
I’ve noted several times in this column how President Trump questioned our national morality, going even as far as to claim “we’ve done some bad things.” Instead of standing beside the kneeling NFL protestors because although we disagree with their method of protest we support their right to do so in any peaceful manner they choose; we have as a nation found another reason to hate one another. We are acting as individuals in diverse and opposing causes instead of patriots behind a single cause.
Maybe it’s not as obvious, but along with all this we have also trafficked more in liberty than in faith. Not that liberty and faith are mutually exclusive. However in today’s American society we have elevated personal (as opposed to national) liberty onto an altar somewhat higher than faith in God. With the great rush “to be ourselves” or find our inner person, we have detoured around the collective faith of a people committed to the idea God has imbued us with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Instead we are arguing over which party should be granted the authority to bless us with our rights ... and how. No longer do we give due respect or honor to the author of life, liberty etc. We have lost our faith in the idea there is something/someone greater than mankind and greater than any one person.
Joseph Stalin said, “America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: Its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”
We need to wake up. Stalin’s hope is the hope of Vladimir Putin. If we continue down our current path we risk making Stalin not only clairvoyant, but more distressing — we risk making him right.
Mike Tischio is a freelance columnist living in Union County. To comment, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.