Thursday, November 08, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

     Well, the curtain has come down on probably the most divisive and bitter Presidential election in this country's history. Although I use the word 'probably' because there's no guarantee that future elections won't eclipse this one in terms of ferocity and bitterness.
     And while I'm glad that my candidate won, I, for one, am not the kind of person who will gloat and rub it into the faces of those who supported the other guy.  One, because it's not in my nature to do so, and Two, other than making me feel good for a few moments, it serves no useful purpose.
     I have no idea about what the next four years will be like while President Obama continues to work on trying to get this country back on the right track.  But I know that he can't do it all.  The Constitution, among other things won't let him, and, whatever happens on his watch will be attributed to him whether he had a direct hand in it or not.  Everyone needs to have a single point of blame, however unfair that is, and the Leader of the Free World happens to be it for this country, and a good chunk of the rest of the planet.

    Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, as it were.

    But what I want to expound upon is an appeal to my fellow Americans to stop the divisive and bitter partisan bullshit that has crippled this country.  We need to start working together to address this country's problems.  No one side has all the answers, and many of the answers need the input of all sides.  I do believe that people who espouse such polar opposite agendas as the Greens and the Tea Party can put their mutual distrust of each other's agendas aside, and concentrate on the common issues that affect the people of this country. I mean, when a tornado is bearing down on your community and threatening to wipe it off the map, that's not the time to be debating the existence of climate change, and refusing to help those who don't agree with you.  Only an idiot would engage in such behavior, but sadly, it seems that there are those in this country that would do so.
    It seems these days that it's not enough to win over your opponent, we have to rub our opponents face in their defeat. Why is it that families and friendships are destroyed because we can't agree to disagree?
    I listen to the 'This American Life' podcast, and highly recommend it, by the way, and the issue that came out before the election was called 'Red State, Blue State.'

   The onus of the podcast is that we as a nation are so divided that we even let our divisions affect our relations with our families and friends.  People are ending long lived friendships and disowning beloved family
members simply because they don't agree with each other and don't choose to agree to disagree.  This is madness.  Who in their right mind would let blood and friendship suffer because of loyalty to party and philosophy?  This is the sign of an immature person and an immature nation.
    One of the great things about living in Pittsburgh is that on the first Saturday in October, we have an event called the 'Head of the Ohio.'  It's a series of competitive rowing races that is quite popular and has gained some national attention.  Have yinz ever seen how a rowing crew operates?  Depending on the event, there are up to eight men or women in a very narrow and light boat who have to work together perfectly in order to get the boat through the water as fast possible. Their oars have to hit the water at the exact same time, drive through the water with equal force, and recover and repeat the evolution consistently hundreds of times during the length of the race.
    That crew can have a liberal, a conservative, a Green, a Socialist, a Tea Party member, two moderates, and an anarchist on it, and they may get into titanic political arguments, but for the singular purpose of getting that boat from Washington's Landing 3.5 miles down the Allegheny River to the Point faster than the other teams they are racing, that crew has to put their differences aside and depend on each other to achieve the ultimate goal.  For that moment, they do not care about how best to fix the economy or whether our foreign policy is alienating us in the eyes of our allies and enemies.  They are focused on that common goal.  They don't care who gets the glory as long as they all can share in it.

    The people who are digging out of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy are of all different races, creeds, orientations and otherwise,  but when that storm hit, all that went out of the window, and they were reduced to one common identity.  Humans in general, and Americans in particular.  And Americans love to pride themselves on helping out their own. The storm doesn't give two shits that you're a Green, or a Tea Party conservative, it'll blow your house over just as quickly as it would someone who's the exact opposite of you. And facing that, if you see your neighbor is in need, are you going to vet their worthiness for help based on your political or philosophical ideology?  If you do, I wouldn't want to live next to you.
    It's about teamwork.  That is how it should be for all of us.  I don't give a damn who gets the credit as long as we all can put our differences aside and tackle the problem together.  Why does it have to require that humans face the possibility of sudden and violent death and the loss of our 'stuff', before they get their heads out of their collective asses, and get over themselves and their petty differences?
    While we're listening to and agreeing with the pundits that tell us what we want to hear and demonize those whose only crime is that they aren't a True Believer, our country is slowing devolving into tribes where we segregate ourselves into our own little ghettos, gated and otherwise, and are happy to surround ourselves with those who think as we do.  That's not the America that I took an oath to protect and serve.  I'm not saying that people shouldn't have their own opinions about how to deal with the problems that the US faces. That's to deny human nature.
    When I saw 'United we stand, Divided we fall', I'm not saying that we all have to march in lockstep.  What I'm saying is that we have to pursue those things that unite us.  The desire to live as you want as long as you're not harming others.  To be able to provide for yourself and your family.  To pass on positive values to your children. To respectfully disagree with those who share different ideologies than you.  Those are things that we all have in common.  We have different ideas about how to achieve them, and it's not easy.  But nothing worth having ever is. But it can be done.

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