Sunday, December 31, 2006

And Now, The Year Ahead

This is the time of year when we all talk about our resolutions for the coming 12 months, because we all seem to be less than satisfied with who we are. We want to make changes, be they big or small, and the new calendar gives us the feeling of a fresh start.

Now we all write about them, talk about them, but truth be told, our resolutions really aren't of major interest to everyone around us. Perhaps people might offer some support and encouragement, but we're all pretty much into our own thing here.

I'll spare you mine this time, but there is something I would like to see take place in this whole country for 2007.

I'd like to see a return of some "class" in this country. The recent death of President Gerald Ford reminded me of a time of some grace and elegance for our government. I was a young teenager during Mr. Ford's tenure, but I do remember that he came along at one of our country's darkest hours. I don't think the late 1960's-early 1970's period was ever matched in terms of national divisiveness. We were at our very worst, at least politically, during those years.

Gerald Ford's legacy will always be that of a man who came and healed a national wound. If you look at his Presidency in terms of "great accomplishments", it might be easy to miss what this man had done. But he put our dark days behind us, and taught us to move forward. It was a very quiet, unassuming effort put forth by the late President, but it was one that worked, that started us off on a path of a major revival.

That "class" seems to be gone these days. We have become a nation whose body politic is one that is erratic, stormy, exclusive and just plain mean. I see that people are greatly dissatisfied with the course our nation is following, and dissension has always been a great motivator. My problem isn't with the dissension, it's the manner with which it seems to be expressed.

It's not just politics, of course. It seems that everything that we do these days is done in a brash, loud, crude manner. We yell, we scream, we participate in name-calling. We have a culture of professional athletes who seem to embody every characteristic that is not good sportsmanship. We have celebrities everywhere who seem to think that having no taboos is a good thing. Television programming has become one huge voyeuristic event. Entertainment has been reduced to watching other people suffer, or humiliate themselves, or be given a venue through which to exhibit borderline sociopathic behavior.

But the driving force in this country seems to always have been our government, our ideologies, our leaders, and the whole political process. But where it seemed that the hallowed halls of our government were once the source of great people with great ideas, they now seem to be nothing more than arenas of contention, and contention that's not expressed with very much eloquence, grace or style.

I once attended a town meeting locally. There was a major issue at hand, and the community was brought together to try and come to some common solution. But rather than having the forum opened to the intelligent exchange of ideas and solutions, the gathering simply degenerated into a screaming match, and the select few who were the loudest held the floor until it became obvious that nothing more was going to be accomplished.

Politics in this country just seems to have plateaued at this level these days. The party in power is following a course of action, and the opposition's solution is not to offer better ideas, but simply to criticize and demonize those making the decisions. We yell, we scream, we point fingers and we name-call. No one seems to want to step up and offer a viable alternative. We simply seem to be in never-ending pursuit of the sound-byte, whatever it will take to get the cameras pointed our way.

I'm not taking a political stand here. I rarely, if ever, discuss politics, because I believe we hold our political views in the same sacred fashion with which we view our own children. I'm not going to convince you that your ideas are wrong, and you're not going to show me that my opinions are errant.

What I am looking at, here, is the way we go about practicing our politics. Political campaigns are now carried on at the level of a middle-school student body election. Neither side seems to be willing to step up with a platform of what they would do if elected; they'd rather tell you how bad life would be if the other party were put into office. Then it's mud-slinging, character assassination, and more name-calling.

I've been a keen observer of the entire issue of the war in Iraq. I've seen the President commit us to a war, and then defend his actions. I've seen his supporters (albeit few these days) rally behind him. I've seen his detractors step up to their task as well. But it seems that the opposition simply decries the war effort. Every day in countless publications, the war is condemned, the President of the United States is called a vast array of less-than-flattering names, yet nowhere have I seen a viable solution offered.

We are in a new world here. We are in the position of having to do something. We cannot sit back and become passive. America is what it is, in the eyes of the world. Whenever something unpleasant occurs in this country, we wait it out. The issue goes from the front-page, to page 3, and eventually becomes a small column located somewhere near the classifieds.

The world environment will not go away. We can't wait this one out. Perhaps the war in Iraq wass not the step to take, but it was a case of doing something. We need to be in motion. There are people on earth who want to erase our existence simply because we are the United States. No amount of flowery rhetoric is going to change that. Negotiation doesn't work when the opponent's only goal is your obliteration. We're not going to resolve our problems, particularly in the Middle East simply by packing up and going home. I'd love to se every American in uniform safely back on American soil. If I had my wish, no one would ever die again in defense of this country.

So if not this war, then what? It's been made very clear that there are more than a handful of people who disagree with the war. But what do we do? What exactly does calling the President a tyrant, a killer, and worse accomplish? If he's doing the wrong thing, what it the right thing? Say something. Think of it from your own point of view: if your life was motivated simply by biting criticism, rather than ideas on how to actually do things better, how productive would your life eventually be?

I just wish that we'd put some intelligence back in to the mechanics of our political process. I've always said you won't sell me a Mercedes-Benz by telling me how awful a BMW might be. If you want me to subscribe to your methodology, tell me just exactly what that methodology is. Tell me what you want, rather than simply filling the airwaves with what you don't want.

And please, let's get some decorum back as well. Simply being the loudest doesn't make anyone right. The issue I mentioned earlier was never really satisfactorily remedied, because no one could get a word in edge-wise once the yelling began. We're bogged down in Iraq in an ugly, loud, horrendous conflict. I don't think it would be wise to bog down our political process the same way for too much longer.

Let's agree that we can all come up with some pretty nasty names to call our opponents. Let's agree that we can conduct our own very nasty campaigns for our own causes. Let's all agree to disagree, but then let's get back to doing that in a more intelligent, productive fashion. One of the catch-phrases of the year was "Bringin Sexy Back".

Fine. Let's work on "Bringing Classy Back" too.

14 comments:

  1. Amen. I agree with you.

    Kathy

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  2. Excellent entry, Jimmy.
    I think the people of this country lost respect for others & lost good moral values.
    The government wants to remove God from everything.
    WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY?
    Marie

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  3. Anonymous1:11 PM

    OMG! I love this...
    HAPPY NEW YEAR my friend.. may 2007 be the best!
    hugs
    d

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  4. Well said and high time someone said it, Jimmy! We all just need to back it up, put it into practice ourselves. I hate the yelling and screaming, fussing and fighting.

    It's hard to be President. Not that I have experience, just observation. It takes walking the fine line between right/wrong, finding the 'perfect' answer for everyone. That won't happen. So all in all, the best thing for us to do is stand behind our President, our country, no matter who it is. A unified front is a step toward regaining the class we once had.

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  5. I agree so much with this Jimmy, morals are at an all time low over here too. Let's bring a bit of class back, back to the days of manners and consideration for others please! Jeannette xx

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  6. Pamela6:16 PM

    Wow!! What an entry Jimmy! Well said and lots of food for thought.
    Happy New Year to you.
    Pam

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  7. Well put Jimmy. It seems that so many platforms consist of putting the opponents down or emphasizing their failures; not what he/she will do to improve things.

    It drives me nuts that so many people condemn the war but have no viable solutions; no alternatives; no suggestions. And seriously, if people believe that more negotiations are the answer, then they are smoking crack. There are people who hate us and will do anything to kill us. They have no regard for human life. I'm just glad we have an administration that gets that.

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  8. Eloquently said, Jimmy. And absolutely on the money.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Nikki

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  9. Exactly!

    Happy New YEar!
    I wish you all of life's riches, how big or small, it does not matter...As long as your heart is filled, Your laughter loud and echoing...May dreams be the source of all that is color...and may you just have those moments...
    To you my friend!
    Peace
    Jodi

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  10. jackie4:36 PM

    Great Entry

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  11. Anonymous7:09 PM

    Jimmy,
    I agree with most of your entry. We don't belong in Iraq, we never did. I also think that we have and will completely upset the delicate balance in the Middle East if we just pull out. I also think that politics have lost a lot of its luster. It breaks my heart that we can't look at members of the other party without that chasm between parties coming into full view again. We need to stop screaming and start talking to each other. We need to mend too many open and festering wounds right here at home. I am confident though, that just like with Gerald Ford, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, etc., the right person will present himself, and will bring us back together. That's what most of us want anyway. Now I wish I had a solution for the problem in Iraq. Sorry. I just pray it doesn't lead us into another world war. Happy New Year.
    Jude
    http://journals.aol.com/jmorancoyle/MyWay

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  12. Jimmy
    Very well written, my friend! I agree that we need to restore dignity to the political process.

    People seem to lose sight of the fact the the democratic process, our nation's process, is to have opposing views discussed in an open forum and, after compromise and negotiation, come to a sensible solution to the problems at hand.

    This cannot be accomplished without diplomacy and dignity. We cannot move forward on a problem is we are attacking the people in the discussion instead of tackling the problem in the discussion.

    Let us pray that 2007 ushers in a new era in our nation's political process that will restore values and preserve that which made our nation great.

    All the best to you, my friend. May 2007 be a great year for you!
    Sam

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  13. Wow.

    I am so blown away right now...

    I have said the same things in so many conversations its not even funny. Especially in dealing with professional athletes, those in the enterntainment industry, and spoiled, rich kids...

    What ever happened to pride and respect for the family (name)? Respecting and having pride in one's self?

    Ehh, preaching to the choir here ;)

    But anyway... I think the political arena lost integrity when running for Presidency went to the highest money maker.

    I'm pretty sure the last time I read the US Constitution, the requirements of Office in no way said the candidate had to make or have millions of dollars... but this is another conversation ;)

    I share your hopes for 2007 bringing some resolutions in that area...

    Politicians should practice my views on resolving issues:
    ~ If you present a problem, then offer a solution as well... Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

    And those young things, running the gold-paved streets, unconcerned for those younger things on barely tar covered streets, emulating them, will one day fall from their diamond studded platinum pedestals.

    I can dream, can't I? ;)

    Well done, Love :)

    Cat

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