Sunday, July 10, 2016

Make America Great. Begin.

Moderate. Such a nasty, dirty word these days. But I hear it used to be the norm. JFK, Eisenhower, even George H. Bush, those guys crossed the aisle. Today that aisle is a canyon. Everyone has a side, and when you don’t stick to your guns and shut your ears--if you dare think that it might do some good to listen to an opposing or perhaps another point-of-view, well, welcome to no-man’s-land.
The Problem We All Live With

So here we are. Left with two choices very few people admit to liking. But it’s the path we’ve chosen.

Someone once told me this fairy tale. They said that congress used to eat lunch together. Seriously. Republicans and Democrats, chewing the fat and treating each other like human beings. I’m not sure if I buy it, but it makes for a good story. And don’t you just love nostalgia?

You know, those old timey fifties commercials, black and white, all the kids hopping around saying things like gee whiz and awe shucks. Or Norman Rockwell and those cozy pictures of simpler times. No problems, right?

Well, for people who look like me maybe. But for a black guy who couldn’t share a bathroom or water fountain or pool? Yeah, not so much cozy, feel good times. More like church bombing, back of the bus, cross-the-street-because-a-white-lady-is coming kind of times. And acting like it didn't happen obviously isn't doing a whole lot of good. 

So what's this got to do with politics? Everything. And nothing. One person can only do so much, the rest is on us. It’s about hate. It’s about assumptions. It’s about, well, yeah it’s about race. Hate it or love it.

Most of us want to raise our kids to love everyone and everything. Of course we want to teach them right from wrong. I was on vacation with my family and we were driving in the car when I heard the news and learned of Alton Sterling. Then the shootings in Dallas. My son is three, but he's quick. He started asking questions. About guns, or, shooters as he calls them. He heard the worlds kill, police, and white people. Black people. Hell, I don’t know if my son knows he’s white yet, or what in the hell it means. But he knows police. And he's quickly grasping the fact that guns kill. So I shut it off, because it was just too much for me to explain. Because what do you say, you know?

Look, you might not agree with me about politics, opinions. America and greatness. That’s fine. I’m no expert. I’m not on any panels or study groups. I’m just some dude who’s been around people for forty years. This shit is complicated.  

Greatness. Take World War II, when American freed the world from big bad Nazi’s. Great? Absolutely. The greatest generation, yes. We’ve never been so brave, with D-Day and coming together as a country. But again, not great for Japanese Americans. Oh and don’t forget Mr. Black Guy, who served admirably and did all those brave things with your grandpa? Yeah, his welcome home?

The colored entrance is around back.

So, yeah, I can see why some might take issue with the whole Great Again part of Mr. Donald’s slogan.

An Norman Rockwell knew it too. 

I’m not America bashing either. I think the concept of America is a gorgeous thing. Give me your tired and weak and whatnot. I’m proud to be an American because even with all of her faults, her impurities, it’s the idea of this country makes it so special. Yes, exceptional. The cultures, the sights, and even the struggles that have made us who we are today. Other countries can look at us and point and say that we don’t get it, and maybe we don’t, but damn, when it works, when the good in our communities outshines the bad and it all comes together and people forget they disagree or said all of those nasty things in the comment section and just sit back and watch their kids play and don’t try to interfere and mess everything up with labels, well, that’s my America.

Sure, our county was built on a foundation of shaky hypocrisy and revolutionary zeal, from the first sentence that declared our freedom we were turning a blind eye to the obvious but at the same time paving the way for our futures. We have to open the lines for a discussion. If we don't, then what?

We’re in this together. All of us. Black, brown, and white and tan. Liberals and Conservatives. We can implode, just end it now and make it easy for the terrorists, we could prove all of those other countries right, that we’re nothing but a bunch of fat bigots. Or…

Or we can be great.

Being great means starting small. It means smiling once in a while. It means letting that asshole over in traffic because who cares? It means actually listening to what someone says without assuming the worst in each other. It means not thinking that one person can “fix” everything by getting elected.

And yes, it does mean raising our kids not to hate each other. It means opening up dialogue with police officers. It means all sorts of things that I won’t claim to know. It means there’s no easy fix. It means that if America is going to be great, then we’re going to have to work at it.

Now Begin.