We have a President that acts like an impulsive teenager, press reporters that make stories about their own narcissistic stoutheartedness, a White House that spins and sends out edited videos for political purposes, mobs of protestors that harass, and an election board leader in Florida that refuses to comply with state laws. We have leaders that divide and help create a society of victimhood. We live in a cycle of the airing of grievances; a battle between lackeys and antagonists. More and more, society continues to accept and become comfortable with a state of perpetual adolescence.
This lack of maturity is not isolated to politics. Politics simply reflects society. I recently listened to a story from the New York Times that as much as people say they do not like the direction of the society, that statistically stories that feature gossip, sex, and extremism all have the most views. Americans may not want to be in the wrecked car, but we sure seem to slow down to see the accident as we drive past.
During President Reagan’s final address to the American people, he said, “I am warning of an eradication of that (knowing who we are) – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.” President Reagan went on to offer two solutions to regain that spirit, that maturity. That we pay more attention to history – with a great emphasis on civic ritual – and that all great change starts around the dinner table.
We can learn a great deal from history. History is not about facts and dates, it’s about people. History is not boring, because people are not boring. These people teach us about life. History is human. History is about cause and effect. History is about leadership or lack thereof, or twisted vision that inflicts its mistakes upon leaders. History shows us the effect and inaction of every decision. There was no simpler time, ever. There was no easier time, ever. Those who say 2018 is the worst time in America history must have forgotten about those who lived during the Civil War or the influenza epidemic of 1918. History is a marvelous antidote for our current condition.
Every morning, there are millions of Americans that wake up, take their kids to school, work hard at their jobs, pay their taxes, support their communities, and act their age. These individuals are not flashy. This special interest group has no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick—professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “we the people.”
Unfortunately, too few of these Americans’ stories are heard in the bowels of Twitter or on cable news. That needs to change.
We are all born with flaws. We live in a fallen world and I am not expecting anyone to be perfect. In fact, one sign of maturity is the ability to recognize that you do not have all the answers. I am not suggesting I have all the answers. I am hopeful we can change. In order to do that, we must first recognize there is a problem.