Out-of-sync society

Is it my imagination, or is our society resetting itself to default on “instant misunderstanding,” deciding that being “out of sync” with each other is fine?  Are we becoming content to take the low road, thinking blame is an acceptable replacement for American traits of courage, patience and listening?  Surely there is a better way.  We are still Americans first, right?

Politically, not a single Democrat in the US House can understand why Benghazi matters, or why Republicans are preoccupied with oversight, or why State and community issues should, after all, be left to States and local communities.  At the same time, not a single Republican can understand why not a single Democrat can understand these things, or why politics are part of their calculus.  Are we all that disingenuous?  Content to sling mud balls?

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On a personal level, this disease is also spreading.  “Instant misunderstanding,” an Orwellian double-think that permits ignoring what one does not want to hear, is creeping into everyday life.  We watch Big Politicians and Big Media slice and dice us, like soft cake.  We watch them ice us up, divide us into feuding camps, label us members of some class, and plop us into separate boxes.  We are then told to accept these artificial constructs, forget about upward mobility, learn to disdain, despise capitalism’s creativity, reject peace of heart, and rejoice in jaundice.  We are told to swap time-tested American values for petty jealousy, the thrill of spinning up, and then – so they hope – vent our spleens at the polls.  But do we have to do that? 

Ok, so 70 percent of us think we are in an undefined middle class.  Does that mean everyone else has it better, that we should bag work and default to condemning the rest of America for what they earn?  Is that really America?  Do you not feel – like summer humidity – the manipulation afoot?  Do you not see the insidious creep of a plan to divide us?

Well, humidity affects me, and so does manipulation.  I do not like it.  The Big Shots deny the American Dream, partition us, and tamp down our belief in, patience with, and smile for each other. They seem to disdain the America that gives and forgives, more gets and forgets.  They have no time for those of us willing to pause and listen, stay low key, laugh aloud at the Federal Government, enjoy differences, resist standardization, and refuse the default to “instant misunderstanding.” 

They aim to make you believe that we should live in these separate boxes, and that if your box gets bigger mine is getting smaller, and vice versa.  But that is not how it works, or ever has – not in America.  They all forget we know better.  We know a different way, one in which everyone with hard work and some self-recognized talent, can do better.  They forget we know American history.  We will never trade this Land of Opportunity for a Sovietized culture of collective resentment, no matter how appealing they try to make it.  We are America.

So, why do we let such turkeys rile us, discourage us?  Why do we allow gamers to affect us?  Why do we allow Big Government and Big Media, sitting in comfortable chairs on comfortable salaries, sipping comfortable drinks while spewing uncomfortable claptrap, define us?  Why do we accept the need to misinterpret?  I think it is time to say “no.”  I think it is time to trust in ourselves and each other again. 

Say, what about that inner peace, the old American ability to shrug, smile and move on?  Guess what, we can speak for ourselves, think for ourselves, reach our own opinions, and choose to accept and forgive each other as easily as take issue – more easily.  We can slow the pace and listen, trust the individuals we meet, walk away from crass appeals to class, political and personal warfare.  How about a new mantra, “Take a breath, trust yourself, smile a while, and be American.”  What’s greatest about this amazing country is – each other. 

And if we return to what is best about our past, guess what?  It is not Big Government or Big Media.  It is the proud little person, little family, little town, little neighborhood, little things – that make us … Big.  So, what do you say?  Let’s default instead to heart and history, self-reliance and simple faith, trust in who we are, not in who we are told to be, shall we?  Magnanimity – individual to individual – will get us back “in sync” in no time.  We do not need another Federal mandate, Executive Order or mud ball.

Winston Churchill, that great admirer of America, noted that, “It takes courage to stand up and speak, and it takes courage to sit down and listen.”  We need more of both, but have a reservoir.  Let’s help each other get “back in sync,” shall we?  The Federal Government isn’t doing a very good job.  And we are still Americans, right? 

Charles is the former assistant secretary of State under Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, former counsel to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and a former lawyer and law clerk.  He currently leads a consulting group in Washington D.C.