Divided We Fall

Can we stand up now?

You haven’t heard from me in awhile because I’ve been traveling and writing from the road was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  This post has nothing to do with aging except for the fact I never thought I would see what is occurring in our United States.

My journey included a visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the site where our country’s founders gathered at great personal risk to chart the course of a new nation. This is a photo of their meeting room. Our tour guide described a grueling process with much discussion and debate and finally compromise that resulted in our country’s Declaration of Independence and later our constitution.  I came away inspired by their courage and dedication. While in Pennsylvania we also visited Gettysburg, site of the bloody battle that was a turning point in our civil war.  What a dark period in our history that was, not only because of the incredible suffering and loss of life but also because of the bitterness that divided us.  As I looked at the photo of Laura Arnold, a staunch Unionist whose brother was the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, I felt a profound sense of sadness thinking of the families and friends and neighbors that were torn apart by differing ideologies.  We are, once again, a divided country and the anger and hostility being expressed is both disheartening and frightening.

How did we get to this point?

Before cable channels and the internet changed the world, reporters took the time to verify facts before they broadcast or published a story. There were respected sources of information that people generally trusted.  How I miss Walter Cronkite!  Now most “news” could be better classified as gossip. Talking heads in the media don’t debate—they argue and insult and interrupt each other.   It’s all about ratings and entertainment.  Add to that the wild conjecture passed off as facts on social media and it’s no wonder people are confused and suspicious.

In my fantasy world, campaigning could not start until May of the election year, particularly if the candidate is already an elected official.  If that person is out campaigning for 2 years, who is doing the job he or she was elected to do?  There would be only 2 debates.  Neither candidate would be allowed to talk about the other candidate.  They would only be allowed to talk about their own policies—what they plan to do and how they plan to do it—no pie in the sky promises.  And they would agree in advance to actually answer the questions.  Any candidate that wandered off topic would have their mic cut off.  No more blah, blah, blah.  This interminable campaign looks more like Wrestlemania than an important part of our democratic process that is supposed to be about what’s best for all of us.

I am so disappointed in the people we have elected to lead us.  They are behaving like children.  Can we behave like adults?  We can let our officials know we expect them to act with dignity, tell the truth and hold them accountable when they do not.  And maybe we could listen to differing viewpoints with a mind that is more open.  Discuss respectfully rather than argue.  Think before we share that Facebook post or forward that e-mail or re-tweet and if we are not reasonably certain the content is true take the time to check it out.

We need each other.  Perhaps now more than ever since it is apparent our politicians would rather win than lead.  Let’s demand better of them.  We the people deserve it.   And because no matter the outcome on Tuesday, if we don’t change our behavior we’ll all be losers.