Today, remembering that one of the reasons I write this blog is to leave a written trail that my descendants might one day follow, I realize it would be a historical error not to mention the present state of our union and our human condition.
As a nation, we are more deeply in debt than ever before. Money is tight, jobs are scarce, crime is high. Some of our elected leaders are working diligently to address these problems; others do only what is politically expedient, even if it means sitting spitefully on their hands and refusing to do the work that we, the taxpayers, pay them to do. Perhaps because some people find these conditions stressful, or perhaps because some are mean-spirited by nature and now have the technology to dispense their negativity, our American society is not as polite as it used to be.
I've lived long enough to watch our country struggle through the Civil Rights era and, later, through the hostility surrounding the Viet Nam War, but I was on the periphery of those violent, hateful times, aware of them only through the evening news. Never before now, though, have I witnessed so many people--including some I know personally--publicly exhibiting the kind of Jerry-Springer-style behavior I've seen lately. Where does it come from, this anger, this need to call names, tell lies, spread fear? I see it on television--especially on Fox News--and I see it on blogs and on Facebook posts. How did we get to this ugly place?
Yesterday Barack Obama was re-elected (by a narrow popular-vote margin) to serve a second term as president. I'm glad about that, but I know many others are not. I also know the shoe could easily have been on the other foot. Regardless of who won or lost, we, the people, need to get a grip. We can begin to make our world a better place by picking up the remnants of the manners our mothers taught us and showing some civility.
So . . . if you happen to be reading this many, many years from now, check the history books to read about the success or failure of the Obama administration. It'll all be clearer in retrospect. While you're at it, see if you can find what's been written about hatred, anger, and intolerance in U.S. society in the year 2012. I hope, by then, you'll find it hard to believe it was ever like this.
Stepping off my soapbox now.
* From the lyrics of "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" by Elton John.