With just over 40 years trying to act like an adult, I want to step aside and look at what our country looks like right now. At 60 years old, so many things look so unfamiliar to me that I wonder where I’ve been for the last four decades. Missing is the time-cherished wisdom I thought I would be able to use at this age; void is a mature understanding, not of the how — but the why our country seems to be in a constant state of conflict. I wonder if I have subconsciously added to this or was I so engrossed in doing my own thing, that I did nothing and now realize I should have done more? Have I contributed to this?
No longer is there any compromise between our political leaders, if that is really what we should call them. Nor does compromise seem to apply between brother and sister, neighbor to neighbor and even friend to no-longer friend relationships. The truth that we are quick to insult one another and create great divides seems to have become more important than considering anyone else’s interest. If it doesn’t look, smell or taste like mine then it must be wrong. Our lack of ability to even listen to another point of view with an open mind seems to have evaporated. We silently have accepted so many really outlandish “new norms” for the sake of challenging them, and our rebuke of the status quo, something that I thought contributed to make our country respected around the globe. Have I contributed to this?
At my age, what do I look like to a young person entering junior high school, an age that can be so easily influenced and swayed? Do my words sound mean and piercing — do my facial expressions exude hatred — do my mannerism encourage aggressiveness? Does this young person desire to be like me or run away from what I look like? Does this young person feel hopeful or does he think that so many “old people” like me are completely out of touch to make good decisions that affect his future? Have I contributed to this?
My frustration seems to be growing as I see our country, the one I chose to defend in the military for many years, be rapidly changing. My patriotism stands strong with hardly ever not having a lump in my throat during the presentation of our flag by the color guard at Friday night football games. But does all this really matter to that young person if when the sun comes up the next day, we are back to those “new norms”? Have I contributed to this?
In the months ahead, we can do better, think better and act better? I like my brothers and sisters, my neighbors and friends; this I CAN contribute to!