This is likely the last column I’ll write for The Standard-Journal. My wife and I are finally realizing a long-held dream of living in a community in close proximity to the sea. Sometime around the last week of April we head south and east. I have very much enjoyed the opportunities afforded me as a regular columnist for this paper, and appreciated the support of Amy Moyer and Chris Brady over the last eight to 10 years. It has been a journey in both the journalistic and philosophical sense.

In reviewing my columns from the period 2005–2007, it’s pretty obvious I came across as at least a moderate conservative. Even though I still view myself as a moderate, people close to me interpret my views as increasingly progressive or liberal. Maybe that’s so and although my core beliefs remain traditional, I’ve come to view the current Republican Party as pretty darn repugnant. Trump not-withstanding, the views advocated by the likes of Ted Cruz, Devin Nunes, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Marjorie Taylor Green, and Josh Hawley ring un-American.

Now I realize some of you might believe just the opposite – that the people I mentioned above are the true patriots and fighting for the United States you remember historically. Well, it seems to me there are at least two USAs. Of course there is the America deeply divided by the current partisan divide that’s existed since the late 1990s. Then there’s the United States as it exists in conservative, mostly white Americans minds, versus the United States as an idea. The United States hinted at in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, opposed to the country it became through the 19th and 20th centuries.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ...” These words from the Declaration of Independence indicate a nation not yet actually achieved. They point to a nation that truly views every human being created as an equal to every other; a nation that recognizes a supreme being but shows favor to none of the various religions, while encouraging all to participate in government. As well as a nation that governs to ensure the rights God gave humans, as opposed to a government that is the supreme power. Sadly for over 240 years Americans have argued and fought with one another to gain advantage for their own culture or race or sex or identity. Where is it stated in this or any other founding document: that the survival of the fittest is our national creed?

This nation was instituted to make sure that everyone of its citizens has the opportunity to enjoy “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet today millions of our own go without the basic food or housing needed for healthy living. Hundreds of thousands cannot afford to pay for adequate health care. Thousands more sleep on the streets or have been enslaved in human trafficking networks. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is that my problem?” shame on you! “All men (and by inference women) are created equal.” If you begrudge the poor the government programs that alleviate some of their poverty you are just another Cain asking of God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In America we are all our brothers’ keepers! We the people are the power behind government. If we don’t care for our brothers who will?

So yes, I’ve evolved. I saw the great promise of Barack Obama and what his presidency would do for future Americans of color. I have stopped condemning women who choose abortion because our country won’t give them affordable health care including birth control. As far as homosexuals are concerned, I simply cannot determine in reading the Bible if the God of love condemns that lifestyle. And I view a transgendered person in much the same way I view a person born with what we call a handicap ... they were born that way and need to find a way to live to their fullest. Would we condemn a person born with a withered leg who seeks medical treatment to obtain a prosthetic one? Are you going to begrudge a diabetic insulin, just because he or she was born unable to make their own? Come on people. If you believe everyone needs to help themselves, then we have to give them wholeness and value and purpose so they have at least a chance. And every individual must define their own value, purpose and wholeness.

Immigrants aren’t ruining the United States. Neither are black people, homeless people, gay people, Asian people, unemployed people and, you get the point: we’re all people. The most dangerous among us are those who look around this world and only expect to see a mirror image of themselves those who think, “My religion, sexual preference, race, political view, etc. is superior and everyone should just accept it.” We tried that from 2016–2020 and it didn’t work out like Donald Trump thought it would. Now we are left to rebuild the bridges we burned, heal the people we scarred, and nurture the world and environment we all share.

Time is running out for United States and the world’s environment. We elected a demagogue in 2015 and came close to civil war. Over the same years we increased carbon output, further depleted fossil fuel sources while turning our backs on renewables. We turned against our brothers with even more gun violence. We almost broke our own system on Jan. 6, 2021. This is it, the ninth inning and we’re down by several runs with our last three outs. If we don’t rally now – against racism, pollution, violence and hate – we lose. The “Shining City on the Hill” will burn, and with it hope and all of mankind.

We are more than Penn State. We are the world.

Mike Tischio is a freelance columnist living in Union County.

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