Point of No Return: Tough times aren’t new for us. It’s what we do
There’s a race war coming.
We aren’t what we used to be.
This country is falling apart.
I fear for our children.
Do you hear those things being said a lot these days? Do you find yourself saying them, as well? We all do, right?
We read about young black men losing their lives every day, and watch with teary eyes as a maniac strips the lives from police officers who are simply trying to do their jobs. We go to cast our ballots this year, once again, for the candidate who makes us less sick to our stomachs than the other to lead our country, and then we get to explain to our children why people in far-away lands want us to die in horrific ways.
Many of our roads and bridges are falling apart, our educational system is lagging behind other developed countries and people in Flint, Mich., still can’t get a clean glass of water at night. Some fear that gay marriage destroys the very fabric of our civilization, and others answer that disagreeing with that concept makes you a bigot and intolerant of others.
You say left. I say right. I say dark. You say light.
There are definitely enough things going on around us to keep any rational person awake at night, and more seemingly awaits us at every corner. Do we think the political gridlock will just go away after this election? Aren’t we all just waiting for the next mass shooting or an ISIS attack on our soil?
So, yeah, times are tough. But you know what? They always have been. There was turmoil in our young nation before the dudes in the white wigs drafted a Declaration of Independence, and we had an actual Civil War over the rights of one group of people to OWN other people. Our mission to explore the western part of the continent led to battles between settlers and the native people who had lived there before, and moral outrage led to the prohibition of alcohol sales, which led to organized crime and more stacks of human bodies.
We’ve seen women and minorities have to fight and claw for the right to vote, and witnessed open hostility and violence thrown at Irish people for the crime of coming here to try to improve their stations in life. This nation has had the Lindberg kidnapping trial, the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial and the Scopes Monkey trial — which, unfortunately, did not actually have any monkeys on the witness stand.
Because, you know, that would have been cool.
We have historically fought against each other, killed one another, stripped races of people from having dignity in their lives and built a governmental structure that is as inefficient as it is costly.
Yet we keep bouncing back.
Depressions, recessions, slow-downs and stock market crashes have at times crippled our economy and brought people to their knees.
And we bounce back.
Terrorists have knocked down our buildings, taken our loved ones and belittled our way of life.
And we bounce back.
Twinkies left store shelves, for God’s sake.
And we bounce back.
If there is one word that best sums up the fabric of our nation, it is resiliency. We get knocked down. We get kicked a little. And we end up fighting amongst ourselves seemingly every chance we have. And when it looks darkest, we always shine.
That is who we are. We are the fighters. The scrappers who come out ahead because we never quit. We never lie down and just take it from anyone, and I doubt we will any time soon.
You see, I believe in this country of ours, and I always have. I believe that when the chips are down and people are counting us out, we stand. We stand, and we fight and we come together.
It’s like a sibling relationship we have amongst Americans. We fight each other. We tease and belittle each other. Often times, we cross the line of acceptable behavior. Some times, we obliterate that line in the most deplorable ways imaginable.
And then we unite. We pull together for Team USA to win the World Cup, or for an archer from (pick a state in the Midwest) who competes for a medal in the Olympics. We stand together after 9/11 or Orlando or Sandy Hook or Dallas, even as we argue over what could have been done to prevent it in the first place.
We have problems. Deep, troubling, disgusting, outrageous problems. And we better start figuring out a way to communicate and get a handle on these problems, or they are going to get much worse. Our nation not only has warts, our nation’s warts have warts that have developed warts.
But at some point we have got to get past these things, see through the rhetoric around us and recognize that we are all Americans. We don’t have to fix our weakest links to be stronger as a whole, we have to elevate our weakest links into something greater, and we have to do that as a people because the government’s sure not going to fix it.
Let’s just hope we do it on our own, and not because of another tragedy.