As I look around, and lately try to avoid the news as it keeps me awake in terror sweats right now, I wonder what is going on.
I’ve asked myself and others if I heard or saw something that doesn’t seem possible. I find out to my increased horror that I did see or hear something completely outrageous. Those who have confirmed my fears are also dealing with sleepless nights and breaking out in cold sweats. I’ve asked myself how the greatest self-governing experiment in the history of the world has gone so awry.
I’ve been re-reading some of our young country’s complicated history. As with all things, there is the good, the bad and the very ugly. Since two-thirds of that trilogy isn’t flattering, our country has been through lots of downs so that the ups have been world-changing.
The idea of “forming a more perfect union” is a set of wonderful words worthy of the continued attempt to attain that goal. This Preamble, written by Governeur Morris of Pennsylvania, gave the people something to strive for during our nascence. It was a good reminder that governing is always a work in progress. That reminder is necessary today.
For a country that has seen so many world-and-life-changing accomplishments, it’s astonishing to me that we are watching, with a certain level of indifference, situations that are truly astonishing. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that for a country whose citizenry invented the airplane, the ice pop, sunglasses, nylon, cotton candy, the first laser, the lunar module, Cadillac, chocolate chip cookies, disposable diapers, nuclear submarine, compact discs, traffic lights, mousetraps, light bulbs, phonograph, machine gun, skyscrapers, suspension bridges and condensed milk, are the people seemingly unmoved that in some of our cities and towns we have dead people in makeshift morgues.
How did we get to a place where pandemics were warned about decades ago, and in a few not-so-sci-fi movies and shows, and we were still caught flat-footed? How did our considerable might and intellectual capacity not manufacture enough masks and PPEs for our citizens and front line workers?
How did our considerable entrepreneurial prowess allow for the denial of what was in front of us? How have we seen so many die and not give that situation the reverence, thought and solutions this deserves?
We instituted the Marshall Plan to rebuild a world torn apart. We realized that not all decisions should be based solely on dollars and cents. Sometimes a monetary investment is necessary to achieve a different and more important outcome. Now we spurn those well thought-out decisions, and will pay a price that won’t only be measured by the currency exchange.
At the times that counted the most, we realized that partnerships and collaboration yielded stronger relationships, and return on investments, than treating everything as a game of win-lose or as a real estate deal. Sometimes, when it counts, everyone has to win a little and lose a little for things to improve for all. If everyone is an enemy or a competitor, how do we build a community, much less a more perfect union?