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ICYMI: We must stop destroying our institutions

America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.

ICYMI: We must stop destroying our institutions

America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.

We must stop destroying our institutions

America enters 2021 still in the grip of a pandemic. One of the reasons coronavirus continues to burrow ever deeper into our society is the attack on science has succeeded; sufficient numbers of Americans believe coronavirus falls somewhere on a continuum of flu to hoax.

The undermining of science is just one example of the corrosive success the left and the right have had in attacking America’s institutions. Should they continue to win, the U.S. will continue to decline.

And let’s be honest: Ours is a country in decline.

We can point to the left and to the right and find examples of glee in hollowing out one institution or another. I have no intention to list those here or offer a stern finger-wagging at the guilty parties. Both sides have done it, and both sides have established the dissolution of one institution or another as orthodoxy. Dare you question that orthodoxy if you wish to stay in the good graces of your camp.

Americans must recommit to an affirmation of the value, dare I say in some cases the sanctity, of the institutions that assisted in making us the envy of the world. This means demanding

-public education at all levels be financed to ensure students learn professional and life skills and don’t leave college with crippling debt;

-the arts be given resources to allow for enriching and vital programs about culture, music, literature, history and more;

-legitimate scientific inquiry be supported;

-local, state and federal government agencies be afforded the respect they deserve (no, government ought not be the enemy);

-the three branches of government be represented by men and women of distinction, not merely people with often lifetime seats allowing the holders to be spreaders of virulent nonsense without sanction;

-houses of worship be classified as holy places with our major religions viewed with reverence and not as passe;

-the news media be determined (perhaps required?) to reestablish international news bureaus so that Americans have the opportunity to see how issues “there” resonate “here.”

I accept that institutions are inanimate objects; the people who work within them and the public that evaluates them are the arbiters of an institution’s success. But I’m tired of seeing despicable attacks on these institutions from groups with no other agenda then tearing down.

Do some people inside institutions make unforgivable mistakes? Yes. Are they sometimes corrupt or evil? Absolutely. And when they are, they should be rooted out and replaced by individuals who want to do right. That’s true whether the institution is educational, political, religious, or something else.

Mind you, reinforcing our institutions won’t be enough to, yes I’m going to say it, make America great again. There also must be a commitment from people who sit on their high horses of arrogance to agree to frank conversations about complex challenges such as race, gun rights, voting and immigration (that’s not the full list). We must stop seeing almost every issue as a kind-of life and death struggle wrapped around simplistic rhetoric screaming that the nation won’t survive if the other side gets its way.

I want to be optimistic and want to believe that this nation of roughly 340 million people is committed to doing what it will take to improve the country. We are stewards of this country, including the soil at our feet and the air above our heads. It is not our responsibility to make America “for me.” Instead, it is to ensure that when the next generation replaces us that they are handed a stronger, healthier, smarter nation that continues to support this fragile theory of democracy.

We must be better. Will we be?

What do you think? Remember, do not reply on Facebook or Twitter. Post any comments in the box at the bottom of this blog.

Thinking ahead to 2021

What do Americans need to consider as the new year approaches?

Forget about us having serious conversations about the important issues dividing us. Do you really think after the hate that dominated our political speech over the past four years and the anxiety coronavius spawned over the past nine months that Americans will be ready to discuss police reform, the environment, immigration, social unrest, entitlement programs, military spending and more?

Exactly. There’s a cavernous divide between whether we should discuss them and whether we will. 

Our priorities for 2021 have to be, shall we say, lowered.

Perhaps the most important — and vexing — challenge: Understanding what the new normal will look like once enough of us are vaccinated and we can start living free from coronavirus restrictions. (And there’s a huge presumption in that previous statement: I’m guessing the overwhelmingly positive results from the vaccines will continue; if they don’t, uh oh.)  Will work-from-home policies, however imperfect they might seem to many people, become more amenable to us? What happens if substantial numbers of businesses accept there isn’t need for a signature footprint somewhere in the downtowns of our largest cities? What will the so-called dress code look like when a majority of people who can work at the office opt to do so? Let’s be honest, over the past nine months we’ve become less strict in our wardrobe choices, and a whole lot of us feel more relaxed because of it. 

Next, what do we plan to do in order to get our most vulnerable citizens on firmer footing? Coronavirus has sent far too many Americans into unemployment, and worse. Americans across the country need a good job, and a fair number of them also need a place to live. A sizable percentage of us fall into the “send some organization some money and we’re done” camp. Another sizable percentage of us don’t want the government to engage more directly in people’s lives. And yet another sizable percentage believe the time has come to more fully infuse federal policies into everyday life. How those coalitions, for lack of a better word, coalesce into altering federal programs will determine how well the poor and the needy enjoy more economic freedom in the new year.

Third, how quickly will Americans feel comfortable and confident returning to air or train travel? Will you be among the “I’m the first in line” crowd, or are you more likely to be the “I think I can wait another few weeks” group? The airlines and Amtrak want far more of the former. But will there be enough of us quickly choosing to go elsewhere via air or rail? And what will the costs of those tickets look like? On the local front, how quickly will we return to the sports stadiums and cultural buildings? 

Fourth, will far too many Americans return to their elitist and dangerously indifferent to the people around them ways? People refusing to wear masks and those who insist they can continue to live as they wish during the pandemic highlighted how arrogant too many of us can be. But for the rest of us, will we return to whatever normal is in our lives with a humility and grace, or will we become disrespectful once our spending power can be unleashed?

We’re a nation of close to 340 million people. The last few years has seen more and more of us move into camps of “people like me.” A new year affords us a great opportunity to remember “us” is stronger than “me.” 

Political unrest again in Hong Kong

Reuters has the details.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition lawmakers said on Wednesday they
would resign in protest against the dismissal of four of their
colleagues from the city assembly after Beijing gave local authorities
new powers to further curb dissent.