Is this America?

Posted 1/7/21

Our Opinion Page was ready for the pressroom Wednesday when some of the worst of the past year played out before our eyes on national television from our nation’s capital. In a disgraceful, …

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Is this America?


Our Opinion Page was ready for the pressroom Wednesday when some of the worst of the past year played out before our eyes on national television from our nation’s capital. In a disgraceful, frightening demonstration reminiscent of Third World countries, our democratic and constitutional norms were waylaid by Trump supporters who stormed the capital and reached the halls of Congress.

With a farewell wave to 2020, we had prepared a recitation of everyday undertakings that we hope will never come back. Then came the disgusting episode that chased members of Congress from their deliberations. 

Our list suddenly paled.  This is a country that values and sanctifies peaceful protest, but there is no place for such riotous behavior.

We saw the back of 2020 and bade it good riddance. As promised, the vaccines that offer protection from COVID-19 have been rolled out, although in some areas there are supply chain issues and inoculations are running behind the original projections.

We look forward to life in some degree of what we knew as normal, but let’s leave these behind.

First up is taking people for granted. In the past year we have lost far too many people far too soon. Not making time to see the ones we love, even when we’re tired, overworked or too far away should never come back as normal. The time we get with those beloved faces may be all there is and we should grab the opportunity with both hands every chance we have, even if it is inconvenient.

Not being a major player in your children’s or grandchildren’s lives should be a thing of the past. It goes hand in hand with seeing loved ones at every opportunity, but it goes further. The hours spent with little ones will pay the community back in immeasurable ways. As they learn and accept the values of their parents and grandparents, they are tied more deeply to humanity — and the human race needs the help.

Being in a hurry to the point of rage and rudeness, hopefully, is gone forever. How long does it take to hold a door, keep the elevator for someone hustling to make it or drive more carefully? Will it derail your entire day to be courteous?

In tandem with road rage is a fad we hope is no longer fashionable: texting and driving. With so many of us staying at home to stay safe, texting while driving became a non-issue. Let us hope it has been erased from our habits and has been replaced with leaving earlier so we do not need to send that “I’m running late” text.

Drinking and driving is another misdeed that we would like to put in the rearview mirror. The alarms have been sounded long and loud. Anyone with ears to hear knows it is unacceptable and the cost — both in human terms and financially — are too high to bear.

Another goodbye being bid is to the idea that asking for help is a weakness. It takes more courage to seek help and take it when offered than it does to continue to hide from the need. It is harder to face a problem and fix it than it is to kick it down the road or pretend it doesn’t exist.

Let’s say goodbye to painting anyone who does not agree with us as a full blown maniac. Whether they wear a mask and we choose not to, if they vote red and we pull the lever for blue, or if we support existing laws and they see those laws as obsolete and hurtful, those residents are as human as we, as passionate in their beliefs as we and as entitled to an opinion as we, provided both opinions are expressed legally and legitimately, without destruction of anyone else’s property, or public property.

It is past time to see the end of those destructive protests that cost municipalities and their residents untold hundreds of thousands of dollars and render housing and businesses unusable. Even strongly held beliefs do not justify destruction of property or injury of onlookers or those in opposition. No end justifies that means.

Other actions that could slip away without being missed include online bullying, viral personal attacks on public figures and cancel culture. If a institution or behavior existed in the past, but has been eliminated from our present, the fact that it is gone is condemnation enough. There is no need to erase all reminders — such as books or movies, military base or park names — to somehow scrub history. To eliminate history from our collective memory is to risk repeating it, because in time, the dark side of that history is forgotten. Holocaust deniers have already tried that tactic and were met with staunch opposition. By no means should the dark side of our past be glorified, but neither should it be deleted from our story.

And lastly, one day, hopefully soon, no one will use the jaded term from the past year: Due to COVID-19. We are all ready to let that past be the past.