There is too much financial uncertainty, political conflict and random violence these days.
We were already feeling frustrated with the prolonged isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic when waves of outrage began to spark. There were widespread civil rights protests following the tragic deaths of African-Americans Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and George Floyd in Minneapolis, which continue to smolder to this day. Then came the devastating wildfires in the West, which left at least 35 people dead and thousands homeless. Add in, of course, the years-long simmering fury at the current occupant of the White House.
It seems that all we hear from the media is OUTRAGE. Blame must be placed for each tragedy and scandal, which all blur together, their details reported in such contradictory terms that citizens are left not knowing what to believe.
Divisions between the two main political parties and among neighbors just get deeper and more vicious. Deadly riots in the name of social justice continue. People are “canceled” by a vocal sliver of the population for saying the wrong thing, yet what is considered “woke” seems to change daily. Gads, we can’t even agree on the best ways to fight the pandemic and keep our population safe!
Is this our future?
Here is a most serious question. Where is everybody? Where are the calm voices of those who think there is a better way? Where are the parents and grandparents, the small-business owners and corporate chiefs, the educators and the heads of law enforcement? Where are the doctors and mental health experts, the historians and social scientists who have studied crumbling societies, the mediators, the big-idea people? There must be a way for those who think a peaceful republic is worth striving for to band together to heal this nation. There must be some true leaders out there capable of steering us away from the current cliff.
I know in my soul that a majority of Americans do not want our country to go down its current chaotic path. So, why isn’t that majority rising up and speaking out? Has everyone been too preoccupied with surviving COVID-19? Or maybe we have lost the vision or the will to recognize the festering wounds developing in our society. Deep down, we must realize a happy and productive country is the most important legacy we can leave our children.
Recently, I became aware of a nonprofit organization called Braver Angels, formerly known as Better Angels, an homage to President Abraham Lincoln’s challenge to the nation to return to “the better angels of our nature.” It’s the largest grassroots movement to unite red and blue Americans in a working partnership to try to “depolarize” the country.
“We try to understand the other side’s point of view,” the organization’s website declares, “even if we don’t agree with it. … We engage those we disagree with, looking for common ground and ways to work together.”
What a concept! Bringing all sides together to compromise and find ways to right this teetering ship of state. I wonder if groups such as Black Lives Matter would consider joining the Braver Angels effort. Unlikely. Some of the loudest, most strident voices are obviously uninterested in compromise. Demands must be met, they say, no matter how outrageous they are.
As for the nation’s current poisonous political climate, Braver Angels reminds us it can be tracked back more than two decades. “In other words,” the group’s website reads, “the vitriol in American politics was a problem long before Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the 2016 election.”
So, where does the deterioration of our lawful society and political system stop? It is clear that today’s politicians — on both sides of the aisle — are incapable of compromising. Many are more intent on keeping conflicts red-hot and then using the stalemate as a finger-pointing campaign issue.
So, there are only two choices left to the citizenry. Either sit back, doing and saying nothing, or decide your country is worth speaking up for.
Yes, voting is a start, but there is much more to be done at the human-to-human level to bridge our divide. During this difficult and dangerous time in our history, we must find ways to heal. Where is everybody? Where are you?
— Diane Dimond is the author of three books, including Be Careful Who You Love Inside the Michael Jackson Case, which is now updated with new chapters and is available as an audiobook. Contact her at email@example.com, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.