Back to the Future…This Wall…This Damned Wall (published Jan 23, 2010)

The comment was, “It’s time to get our country back.” Just another angry line from a cynical citizen whose version of the American Promise is threatened by the actions or the pending legislation or the questions being asked by anyone who doesn’t represent the good old days. The latest vengeful rhetoric was spawned by a Massachusetts election. It was quite the victory for a nervous lot. The guy seems like a capable thinker. He might have single-handedly slowed a decision that might require cooler heads and more thinking. That might just be a good thing.

My worry has more to do with the place this is emotion is coming from. The behavior of so many seemed less like a people who felt like a sense of balance was underway, but more like vultures waiting for the last breath of an injured animal. Then the words appeared across the social and mainstream media: “…time to get our country BACK.”

Back to what? Back to when? With the years and the moves and the tragedies I have become much less aligned to a position or a party and more to a set of values and what I think was the intent of a group of men and women who hoped for a better life. Not unlike anyone around today. Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. Pretty good things, eh? “Back” to a time when people used emergency rooms for their primary healthcare because they lost their plan with their job? Back to when a nation’s financial health was measured by Dow Jones and dismisses a national debt? Back to when Bernie Madoff got more air time than boys and girls in uniform dying courageously, risking more than any stockholder could dream? Back to a time when we could hide our ignorance and judgement as long as we gathered around like-minded folks who made us feel legitimate in our prejudice?  Back to a time when we wrote off the perils of a globe in jeopardy because it might mean less horsepower or less square footage to go along with or suburban egos?

Cynical? No way! Idealist? Absolutely! Just amazed at the very idea that a pack ideologues can dismiss that a lot of folks don’t want to go “back.” What if we talked about the FUTURE? What if we acknowledged that the problems we have to solve for are not going to be solved by party lines or worn out colors and position papers and platforms. The planet and the people on it are evolving. Our thinking and our compassion and our intelligence needs to go with it. My beliefs haven’t changed as much as my appreciation for the fact that they aren’t everyone else’s. That is a good thing. I have grown to love and appreciate diversity beyond a corporate program. I, for one, don’t want to go “back” again. I hope we find that our strength will come from common purpose. I wonder what Conan thinks about it all?


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