As I read the news and watch the tsunami of political ads, it’s painfully obvious that we are hobbled by our Nation’s deficits. But, it has nothing to do with dollars and cents. Here’s my take, and I wish I were wrong.
Too many of us are angry and swaggering, venting against perceived ills, while being unaware of our self-inflicted blindness due to deficits of wisdom, compassion, honesty, tolerance, and citizenship. We have allowed the darker angels of human nature to crowd out the better ones. In danger of losing our National Soul, we have nearly forsaken our greatest strength, our first order commitment to building strong community, the public commons. Instead, we are easily incited to small-minded, selfish bickering, unable to continue building a world that helps everyone get ahead, where all can eventually give back. No, “our taxes are not ours” they belong to the communities that nurtured and sponsored us and make ours a civil society.
It seems that ignorance and greed have become virtues. Truth no longer matters. Reality is just what our favorite pundits and politicians say it is. As their deliberate falsehoods are elevated through repetition to “informed opinion”, the nation’s problem solving capacity grinds to halt. Why do we support leaders who deny the hard scientific evidence of global climate change? It’s as if some have abandoned reason on select issues. But reasoning rigorously can’t be optional; it’s required 24/7 to do our nation’s business. In the media’s misguided focus on “fairness and balance”, not truth, they offer equal time to clever merchants of doubt whose selfish goals are to drown inconvenient truths. And, our “best” legal minds have argued that corporations are people, with the consequence that elections are now being bought with their wealth and influence. We have legalized bribery in our politics.
Why do so many of us have no compassion for the tens of millions of uninsured U.S. citizens who cannot obtain proper health care? Why are we resentful about public employees who may have pensions, and health care benefits? Why not cheer that at least some of us have what all Americans should have, a baseline standard of security and economic justice? And, why can’t we finally acknowledge that our wrongful invasion of Iraq caused at least 1 million innocent Iraqi deaths and 4 million refugees, and our own staggering losses of life, health, and treasure that will harm us for decades? Who can predict the eventual blowback from this catastrophe?
We are a dysfunctional nation because we the people have not done our homework and paid attention. We’ve been frightened, bullied, and suckered into electing too many leaders who are dedicated to serving the 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us. Let’s do better.
Bill Mattson, Rhinelander