Over three years ago, I began to blog with the intent of publishing a book of the most humorous ones. My plan began to unravel this past summer; my mood changed. I found myself engulfed in a humorless world filled with we vs. they. Even though, I’ve experienced the darkest side of life over the past six years, I was ill-prepared for the diabolical firestorm currently overtaking America. My humor was suppressed–buried.
Admittedly, I didn’t get much sense until about 40 or so years ago. I paid attention to the debacle of the Viet Nam War, Nixon freezing my $6,000 teacher’s salary for two years, and Watergate. Certainly, I found no humor in these events, but I managed. When the Twin Towers fell, I was outraged. Several nights following, I was in a crowded Mexican restaurant.
The waiter had just brought our dinners, when a mariachi band appeared on the balcony above and played God Bless America. Every patron dropped their utensils, rose and sang in unison. Tears ran down my cheeks as I sang; yet I wasn’t overtly sad. The American patriotic spirit didn’t die in New York City; I had hope.
When the presidential election campaigns kicked into high gear this summer, so did the we vs. they mantra. Civility and decorum vanished. Extremism was rampant. Suddenly, it became socially acceptable to mock the disabled, use despicable racist terms, and blame the press for inaccurate reporting. Following the election, the we vs. they went viral. Somewhat cogent folks jumped on this out-of-control roller coaster and without serious thought and consideration demolished long-standing laws with the stroke of a pen. A classic example of throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water–health care, public education, environmental safeguards. Budgets of long-standing programs, such as the Center for Disease Control, medical research, the arts, and Planned Parenthood were slashed. Further this divisiveness was stoked with “alternative facts,” late night tweeting, erroneous wiretapping claims, and a cloak of darkness on Russian ties.
True, I didn’t get much sense till about 40 years ago, but in those 40 years, I never witnessed the outward hate and derision I see now. In the past few months, I’ve lost long-time friends–not to death–but to their down-right argumentative, combative attitudes. Intelligent, reasonable, civil discourse is fine. Friendly confrontation has its place, but I have no desire to debate with blatant ignorance.
The world has shrunk. Like it or not, we are all citizens of the same planet. We must cooperate, communicate, collaborate, and even compromise. As my grandmother frequently reminded, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” It’s about all of us–not some of us.