At age 72 I hope you don’t mind if I want to focus on what’s real and true, not on what’s false or BS.
The BS is that we in the U.S. are suffering through a terrible time of oppression, inequality, dysfunction and major problems. Yes, problems exist in varying degrees, and always will. But read Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now to be reminded that this is a remarkably great age for the world in general, and for the U.S. in particular, with the one exception noted in my earlier post.
A century of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurial disruption has increased our nation’s standard of living beyond the imagination of anyone born with my parents. And those achievements were largely not accomplished by governments or command economies—they are the result of individuals and teams motivated by some sort of market-based reward, i.e., free market capitalism.
That’s the true big picture that surrounds what we call our current problems. But before considering those, let’s look back at what I believe to have been real problems, all of which occurred during the short span of my own lifetime between the end of World War II (when my parents’ generation dealt with unimaginable problems) and the year 2000, and which required difficult choices and sometimes heroic actions by both determined leaders and regular citizens to overcome. And some of the battles begun then are still running:
Government at all levels enforced segregated schools, creating and perpetuating second class citizens.
Forced conscription of males into the Army to fight and perhaps die in a war which few believed in.
The assassinations of President John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy.
Annual inflation rate of 12.5% and a Fed Funds Rate of 18%, complicating all investments.
A con stant threat of nuclear war, and nearly a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union over Cuba.
Polio—parents could only pray that their children would not contract this dreaded disease.
Ongoing military and economic confrontations with the Soviet Union and China during the Cold War.
The Nixon resignation and the Clinton impeachment, both for actual crimes.
Fighting major wars in Korea, Vietnam, The Persian Gulf, and Kosovo.
Forced segregation of restaurants, hotels, theaters and public transportation.
Fifty-two U.S. diplomats violently taken hostage in Tehran, and held for 444 days.
The 1968 Democratic Convention, when police mercilessly beat demonstrators.
The criminalization of personal behavior, like birth control, divorce, adultery and homosexuality.
Federal Loan Programs that dictated and enforced housing segregation across the nation.
Denying the right to vote to a large number of African-American citizens.
Radical Islamists bombed the Beirut Marine Barracks and the New York World Trade Center.
Global Winter>Global Warming>Climate Change (at least one should be correct).
Federal forced busing that decimated many local public school systems.
Discovering in the Constitution the right to kill an unborn baby in her mother’s womb.
Lies about the true effects of smoking and other tobacco use.
Sexual abuse of women and children by those with power and prestige.
Domestic terrorists McVeigh and Nichols blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Office Building.
Voting districts gerrymandered for Affirmative Action, unintentionally but irreparably polarizing Congress.
The McCarthy Hearings, when patriotic Americans were falsely accused and persecuted by Congress.
Killing on average over 100 unborn babies every hour, for 47 years.
Uncontrollable, violent riots and the burning of large parts of many major cities.
in 1963, U.S. National Debt hit $2.5T in dollars adjusted to today, and $5.0T in 1987. Today it is over $23T.
You will of course have other issues to add or to edit. I came up with these in an afternoon.
After reviewing both the incredible achievements of the last 100 years and the real issues that America faced and either fully or partially solved in the last half of the 20th century, I have several takeaways:
1. You may think that today is a tough time, and in some ways it is; but I offer you 1968-1970, which had far more serious actual disruptions and challenges than we face today. Yet we made it through. If we keep talking and show some grace for those with whom we disagree, we will do so again.
2. The above list represents real threats to life, liberty and/or our specific freedoms. Most of them were and are very serious. They were not about hurt feelings, banning speakers who disagree with you, participation awards, microaggressions, trigger words, victimization, natural and inevitable personal inequalities, cheating your kids into schools, and other nonsense that seems to consume so much of our attention.
3. I lump the current impeachment travesty into this latter category. With all of our real issues—debt, drugs, crumbling infrastructure, the collapse of the family, Chinese incursion—the Congress and the press have nothing better to do than to impeach this imperfect President for a phone call to the Ukrainian President in which, if everything alleged is actually true, he did no worse than the last imperfect President did in 2012, when he asked the President of Russia to do him an election favor by toning down Premier Vladimir Putin. And who later didn’t just threaten to delay the defensive weapons that Ukraine needed—he flat out refused to give them at all, ever! Look at our real problems on these lists—former and current—and tell me that our government has not been dramatically dumbed down by current events.
4. Some good news is that by Congress doing almost nothing for two years while the economy has taken off, perhaps the truth will start to sink in that the best thing we can do for our future is to turn people loose and let them work and create, not tax and regulate.
5. Truth is all I want. After reading the Mueller Report and the Executive Summary to the Inspector General’s Report on the FISA debacle, I have to ask: What happened to real investigative journalists who find and expose the actual truth? A democracy desperately needs a vibrant and courageous press to push for real truth. The press should not be the lapdogs for any group’s particular agenda. Please, real journalists, come forward and give us the truth, no matter who tries to hide it, or how long it takes!
But even if those good journalists do not come forward, I recall two important quotes:
“In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37
“Truth is simple, and delights in simple statements. It expects to make its way by its own intrinsic force, and is willing to pass for what it is worth. Error is noisy and declamatory, and hopes to succeed by substituting sound for sense, and by such tones and arts as shall induce men to believe that what is said is true, when it is known by the speaker to be false.”
Albert Barnes‘ New Testament Notes
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia (1830-1867)
Please Comment, and add some real issues of your own.
Excellent distillation of where we are at this time.
Thank you for your needed perspective. From your lips to mainstream ears… sigh.