1. We can’t/won’t address the issue of gun control. The murder of 26 children and teachers isn’t enough to compel us to action. The murder of concert-goers in Las Vegas isn’t enough. The murder of those attending Christian and Jewish worship services isn’t enough. Places that are not safe now include movie theaters, political rallies, elementary and high school classes, churches, synagogues and nightclubs. All those places cannot be protected by armed guards, and places of assembly should not become armed camps anyway. More guns in the hands of more people is clearly not the answer to public safety. No other country has as many guns in the hands of private citizens as we do, and no other country murders its citizens at the rate we do.
2. We make our adversaries our enemies. Any attorney knows that the person on the other side of his or her argument or transaction is an opponent, an adversary but not an enemy. The same should be true of people running against each other for political office. We have a country, state, town to run. They are not battlegrounds, and the person on the other side is not your enemy. There should be room for more than one opinion. In a clash of opinions, compromise is called for. Persuasion is necessary. Attacking someone for the way they dress or worship or their color should be out of bounds. It is not productive, and it tears apart the fabric of our society.
Similarly, the family of anyone running for office should be out of bounds. How can we ever expect the best of our citizens to choose to run for political office when it exposes them and the people they love to hurtful and dishonest abuse? People who disagree with us or who look different from us are not enemies. The challenge is to use all our honest persuasive powers to convince them of the rightness of our positions or to find an acceptable middle ground, not to denigrate them for their honestly held positions.
3. We do not tell the truth. Somehow, in recent years, it has become acceptable to lie—to issue positions and talk about opponents based on entirely incorrect or unproven facts, to express no remorse when corrected and to refuse to issue a correction or apology. At the moment, one blatant lie is that the president will erase the rights of those born in this country to be citizens from birth. And the support for that lie is that no other country offers that advantage.
The truth, of course, is that the right is contained in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be erased by presidential fiat. And it is a right enjoyed by those living in at least 30 other countries. When did it become acceptable for our leaders to simply lie at will in order to curry favor with those who do not know or understand the truth? Is allegiance to the truth no longer required of our leaders?
4. We denigrate others. The tone of our discourse has become coarse and vulgar. Our politicians and the leaders of other countries are given derogatory nicknames. Those with whom we disagree are belittled by name-calling. Our politicians talk in a way that we would not permit of our children. How do we explain to those children that their behavior, when calling others mean and hurtful names, is unacceptable when they hear it in multiple political ads and from the leaders of their country every day?
5. We refuse to correct our Inadequate, Ineffective and unfair immigration policy, What happened to “Give me your tired, your poor?” Chances are that most of our predecessors, at least those who came here voluntarily, came to this country in that condition, escaping from violence, poverty and hopelessness. They came looking for a chance to work, live a reasonable life, and raise families in peace. And they got it. They are our grandparents and great-grandparents. They wove the tapestry that is this multi-faceted, gloriously complex country. But now we deny others that same opportunity.
How many times have you heard the story of the family from another country, who came here speaking no English at all, and in just a few years, whose children graduated at the top of their high school classes, going on to excel in college? We are not allowing that to happen now. Instead, we are tearing families apart when they arrive here, trying to become lawful residents. Perhaps we cannot accept everyone who wants to live here, but we can certainly do a better job of making the process fair and understandable. We can certainly absorb more new residents than we are doing now. We have become mean, racist, and unfair. The act of pulling children from their parents alone is beyond the limits of civilized behavior.
What are we doing wrong? A lot. We are allowing things to drift toward the unfair, the unsafe, the mean and the ugly, in the name of expediency and ostensibly for financial gain. We are becoming a different country—a country that may not be what we want or where we want to live. We can do better, and we’d better start now.