Brother Against Brother. . . Again
— John Adams
For someone my age, it seems an impossible task to try and explain to those 20, 30 or even 40 years my junior what the United States used to be like. Perhaps the closest comparisons would be trying to describe sunlight to someone who’s lived in a cavern their entire life, or describing the subtleties of classical music to someone who was born deaf.
The United States was once a much move civil place, even when it wasn’t. By that I mean the turmoil and the conflicts of the past we now read about in history books were more decent and humane than what we’re seeing now. Sure. There was violence, mayhem and, sometimes, bloodshed back in those days. But it was different. Even when we were at our most barbaric, we were civilized about it.
Tumultuous as the 1960s and 70s were, there was a sincere veneer of humanity that ran through most of it. Like it was leading us to a better place on the other side of the fire that threatened to consume us all. People of radically opposing views would usually challenge each other to debates, not street brawls. Protestors would engage in civil disobedience and willingly be arrested, while police in regular uniform or plain clothes would respectively take them into custody — often following a procedure agreed upon by both sides prior to the event.
True. The social turmoil of decades past had some seriously bad moments and some seriously bad players. Just like now. But the measuring stick used to show the level of outrage felt by the typical American when they felt threatened was quite different. More specifically, the adult Americans in their 30s, 40s, and 50s at that time. The generation in power in the 1960s and 70s had survived the Great Depression, World War II, and the most nail-biting years of the Cold War. They had earned their peace and prosperity and were not going to let anyone take it from them without a fight. Least of all their own children.
This is why the bloody riots in Chicago and the riots following the King assassination in ‘68 caused such a political backlash. It’s also why the later revelation that an American president had engaged in the cover-up of a burglary and kept an official “enemies list” was so abhorrent to the average American of that era. Compared to what has happened since, and what is going on now, it boggles the mind how complacent the general population has become.
How things have changed. How things have changed.
This is not the future we were promised when my generation was in elementary school. And the events we are now seeing must have been the furthest thing from the minds of the parents who brought us into this world.
The current state of turmoil — in both social and political settings — was only the stuff of Hollywood dystopia and cheap paperback novels a few decades ago. It was all safe fantasy about a horrible existence that “could never happen here.” But now it has happened here, and it’s getting worse.
We’re now in a historic phase that can best be described as Rule by Fanaticism. No middle ground. No traditional American compromise. No willingness to individually maintain civility and order and live within a spirit and atmosphere of Fair Play and Common Decency. No. None of that.
Anyone who thinks different isn't to be debated, they're to be destroyed.
Anyone who has a difference of opinion is to be removed from society as if they were diseased vermin, and have everything they have worked for and built taken from them — including their families.
And if your side has its hands on the levers of power, any and all public and private institutions are to become weaponized and used against your “enemies.” Both real and imaginary.
But worst of all, for the first time in living memory, millions of Americans are now living in fear of an unexpected knock at the door in the middle of the night, and the sinister intention behind it.
Countries do not last long that surrender to such cruelty and resort to such barbarity against their own citizens. They’re either destroyed from within or succumb to action by other nations of the Earth that eventually grow discussed with the cancerous growth living in their midst. And when countries as big, powerful, and, yes, hated as the United States come tumbling down, it is not a pretty sight. What follows is chaos and mayhem of the kind only seen in the worst of Third World hell holes. It’s a lifestyle no sane human being would allow to happen to them, let alone willingly take on.
This reporter has found it increasingly difficult over the past few years to write about the times we're currently living through. They're, quite literally, insane. Not that most of our history has been a bastion of rationality, mind you. There’s an amount of craziness at play in every era. It’s just that rational thought and action were usually the rule, not the exception.
There’s always been escapism in America. But that was always enjoyed in measured dosages and in appropriate settings. Never was fantasy meant to intrude on the real world, let alone dictate policy for governing it.
There’s always been radical thinking in America. But that always ended up migrating to the social sidelines where an eye could be kept on it until it became refined or died off and disappeared. New ideas had to earn their way into the mainstream before being integrated into our culture and civilization. This method allowed for both "conservative" and "liberal" thought processes to live side by side. Not necessarily in harmony, but more or less in peace. It's what allowed the nation to move forward while still keeping its equilibrium. It's what, quite literally, made us great.
Although there’s always been conflict in America, there were set rules of engagement as to how such battles were to proceed and, eventually, be settled. There was, and is, a big difference between beating a man in political or business combat and driving him and his family into the gutter with no way to sustain themselves.
These were all a part of the American Way of doing things and, for the most part, the process worked pretty well. It wasn't perfect, nor was it followed all the time. It was an ideal and ideals are seldom fully achieved. But that reality didn’t make them any less important, nor any less sacred. The phrase “Never kick a man when he’s down” had true meaning to it. For the only people who would do such a thing were weak cowards with no sense of honor. And honor mattered.
Tragically, none of these old ways now apply. And the results are everywhere to be seen and experienced. But the real tragedy is the suffering it’s causing. The suffering our people — our nation — are enduring is very real. Lives are being destroyed en masse and with it the dreams and aspirations of millions of Americans. Both the living and the unborn generations are being robbed of their birthright. What Mr. Adams, his contemporaries, and those who followed fought so hard and sacrificed so much to obtain and preserve.
Something needs to be done. But what? Time is quickly running out for our country. Yet few seem to be doing much about it. The clock ticks on, and the window continues to close.
Well, perhaps the answers lie elsewhere. Out there. Somewhere in the aether. An other-worldly explanation?
Hmm. Well, probably not. But while we’re on the topic, I have a very entertaining thought.
Surprisingly, and (perhaps) coincidently, there’s been a recent resurgent interest in, of all things, UFOs. Aliens. Extraterrestrial intelligence, and the like. It’s almost humorous given the real-world tragedy the United States is currently experiencing. But let’s take a moment to enjoy that narrative a bit. In fact, why don’t we think about what ET would be like if he exists and his kind showed up to pay us a visit?
The first thing our alien visitors would have to do is come up with a name for us. Something that could be entered into their zoological reference guides. Much in the way we do when we happen across a new creature in the animal kingdom. We look at the new life form carefully. Consider its appearance, its location or environment, and, of course, its behavior. Then we come up with a name like Polar Bear, Sand Shark, Tasmanian Devil, or something else in a similar vein.
So what name would the ETs come up with for us? Not just for humans, but for the American sub-species variety?
There’s no way, of course, of knowing the name we would be called in ET’s native tongue (assuming he has a tongue). But I theorize it would be a few words or a phrase. Much like Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, or Dances With Wolves. Only much more telling and accurate.
If ET ever does show up, after careful observation and research, he’ll most likely come up with a name for Americans that’s both appropriate and deserving:
“They who have everything, yet create all of their own problems.”
Our visitors will then proceed to snap a few pictures of their new discovery, take a few notes, then move on to someplace, and some people, far more civilized and far less self-destructive. We might never know they showed up. After all, who wants to have a conversation with a species that has a hard time having a conversation with itself? Life is short, time is fleeting, and starships can only move so fast. It’s a big universe, after all. So why waste a single light minute on a people who seem hell-bent on self-destruction?
If we, the American people, don’t save ourselves, nobody else will. It’s time to wake up and take a cold, hard look at what’s happening, put an end to it, and return to our national destiny as a land of (real) freedom, (real) tolerance, and (real) truth. We’re alone, and we always have been. Our survival is totally up to us, and it always has been.
“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia...could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.” — Abraham Lincoln
A nation is a terrible thing to waste.
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