200,000+ Americans dead, a majority of them an unnecessary consequence of incompetence and deliberate malfeasance. A federal government defined by corruption on a scale well beyond anything witnessed in our lifetimes. The treasonous betrayal of American interests to Russia. A man with the nuclear codes suffering from severe psychiatric disorders. Massive job losses coupled with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Those who have served America in uniform characterized as “losers and suckers.” A Senate and President that sprints in a mad rush to fill a Supreme Court seat with someone who will likely act to take health insurance from millions and stand against justice and equality for decades, but that can’t muster the effort to deal with COVID-19 and a recession relief package for month upon month.
Many times in the past, America has asked its soldiers to risk their own death and to kill others. It has always purported to have a purpose: to defend America and its values. Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed to protect their loved ones and to serve the greater good.
Jeffrey Goldberg recently reported in The Atlantic that Donald Trump has characterized those who have sacrificed and served in uniform for America as losers and suckers. It is tempting to infer from this that Trump fundamentally doesn’t understand the idea of sacrifice. But there is substantial evidence to the contrary. Trump understands very well the idea of having individuals sacrifice on his behalf. Again and again, he has encouraged many to sacrifice their credibility, their reputation, and even their lives, all on his behalf.
One of the objectives of authoritarian regimes is to extinguish hope so everyone will give up. So let’s talk about… HOPE.
I now know with certainty which of my acquaintances support systemic racism, but I also see so many more who do not, and each of them gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances would prefer to see America as a corrupt oligarchy rather than a secular democracy, but I also see so many more who do not, and each of them gives me hope.
I now know which of my acquaintances would have been silent or would have applauded, while conveying thoughts and prayers, when my relatives of generations past were dragged from their homes into concentration camps 80 years ago, but I also see so many more who I now know would not have, and each of them gives me hope.
Let’s talk about… GREATNESS. Particularly, America’s greatness.
What makes a country great? For most of us, many factors might come into play, such as the country being exceptional in terms of:
• geographic expanse and resources;
• military power and victories;
• wealth, productivity, and an ever increasing standard of living;
• leadership in technology and innovation;
• global political and cultural leadership and influence;
• health, happiness and quality of life;
• and a commitment to justice, equality and human rights.
A Domino Principle reader wrote today: “What I want to know is: what can be done to stop Trump. Since there seems that NO ONE can or will. I know voting is the best way to get him out, if we can have a election without him suppressing the voters.”
The news each day is overwhelmingly horrific. Election tampering and voter suppression, plague, racism, fascism, economic collapse, corruption, treason and a President’s relentless betrayal of his oath of office and erosion of American values.
Six months from today, at noon on January 20, 2021, the current terms of office for Donald John Trump and Mike Pence will come to an end.
We can be certain that the next six months are going to be one heck of a wild ride. Trump and his enablers are not done destroying America, not by a long shot. Things can, and very likely will, get much worse. Yet, it will also be an extraordinary time when ordinary people will have the opportunity to become heroes… when many will have a chance to provide leadership and act with valor in the face of great adversity.
In a Washington Post column this Tuesday, “If you aren’t filled with rage at Trump, you aren’t paying attention,” Paul Waldman wrote: “Before the pandemic, Trump was one of the worst presidents in our history. But now he has laid waste to our country, with his unique combination of incompetence and malevolence — and he’s not done yet. Once we finally rid ourselves of him, it will take years to recover. But as we do, we should never for a moment forget what he was and what he did to us. And we should never stop being angry about it.”
I woke up this past Saturday morning filled with dread about possible outcomes that seemed feasible for later that night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As the dominoes fell that evening, I was thrilled that my fears of Tulsa being a “powder keg on the brink of exploding” turned out to be unfounded. Last week was, in fact, a pretty good week for democracy in America. Let’s take a moment to briefly recap and celebrate some of the good news, and then focus in on why we must remain vigilant regarding what it bodes for the future.
“Take that down off your Facebook page!!!”
That’s the admonishment I received from a friend of mine the other day after I posted a graphic informing people about the March for Justice taking place near my home today. She told me how unsafe she felt in her own city in the midst of all the protests and accompanying police presence.
The violence is, of course, horrible. But it is temporary… it shall pass. The racism and the injustice, however, will not pass so quickly. It is pervasive, and has been broadly emboldened by a President who seems to enjoy exacerbating it, along with white nationalists and other outsiders who have infiltrated the protests in a deliberate effort to exploit them, turn them violent and incite racial division. I was pleased that the protest I participated in today was a peaceful outpouring of love and passion from hundreds of people who were dedicated to making their community a better place for themselves and their families.
In a world in which our activities have been abruptly curtailed by the novel coronavirus, warm weather, relaxed restrictions and boredom stemming from months in isolation are already enticing many people to engage in behaviors that put their lives, and the lives of others, at greater and unnecessary risk. We can expect that such behaviors will continue and even increase.
We might observe others choosing to take high risk actions that could result in the spreading of COVID-19, like enjoying a meal inside a crowded restaurant. We might infer that if the government allows it, and that if these people think it is okay to engage in these behaviors, then it is also okay to engage in these activities ourselves. We might feel that if we don’t take such actions ourselves, we are “missing out” on what everyone else is doing.