How Divided Are We?

  • I’m not sure how this post is going to go over. But it is a topic I have been thinking about for months. I sincerely believe my viewpoints on this topic are pretty center of the road, but I guess I will find out if I am right or wrong. I don’t discuss politics as it is personal, but I will discuss my belief in our Democracy and the future of our nation, so here goes…..

For many months, we have heard how divided our nation is. How we are entrenched into one side or the other and with an election that just split at almost 50/50 from the outside one would think this is true. But, is it true? Are we as Americans so divided that our commonality is gone?

I contend that “We The People” really aren’t as split as some want to portray us to be. I do however think that we have allowed the fringe of each party to overtake our nation, ensuring that our separations fester.

On one side we have the AOC’s, Bernie Sanders & Nancy Pelosi’s of the world. On the other we have the Mitch McConnell’s, Matt Gaetz’s and Rand Paul’s of the world.

We pit the MSNBC, FOX, AON & CNN viewpoints against each other from the fringe.

But if you think about it, what do these politicians on the fringe and the media all have in common? Money and power.

The media knows these fringe politicians best friend is a TV camera attached to a microphone and can always be counted on for a wacky sound-bite. The media is always willing to give them air-time because it helps further their message, helps hook viewers and makes the media more money.

These politicians know that every time they get in front of a camera it gives them more power, which in turn brings more money into their own coffers.

TV time, fringe politicians, media access and camera time equals money and power. See the problem?

So as I think about some of the issues that supposedly tear us apart, I honestly think that the majority of Americans share much more in common in our beliefs than the media and the fringe politicians want us to believe.

The First Amendment gives us all the right to Free Speech. This Free Speech includes the right to express our opinions through protests; however, does anyone support the rights of people to burn and loot communities or show up at polling locations to intimidate people casting their votes or threatening to kidnap Governors of States that some disagree with? I doubt the majority of Americans agree with any of this, but the fringe from each party digs their heels in, gets in front of sympathetic cameras and makes it seem like we aren’t united in these opinions.

The Second Amendment. Again, I don’t know anyone who wants to take away anyone’s guns. However, if you listen to the political fringes you are going to hear that one side wants to outlaw them and the other side wants us all to have a cache in our homes that can take out a small country. Truth be told, I think most of us believe that we are all entitled to have a gun in our homes, but no one should have the ability to walk into a classroom and shoot up a room full of 2nd graders. Who profits and gains power from this misinformation?

Let’s talk immigration. Every single person reading this is a descendent of immigrants, those immigrants built America. I think we would all agree that the majority of us, are fine with LEGAL immigration. I don’t know anyone who wants to close the borders to everyone, nor do I know anyone who wants to open them up and let anyone and everyone flood into the country, but again, we are separated by the fringe that pits our sensible immigration beliefs from each end of the spectrum.

Have I made my point yet? You see, if We The People were in-power, we would find more commonality than difference. Of course, we would have differences, but I am convinced we would work-out a common ground where we all give a bit and take a bit for solutions that can move us forward.

Where did we lose our power to these fringe extremes, one simple word can sum it up…. apathy. The American people have allowed this division to happen on our watch by not keeping a check on our elected officials and media. I’m old enough to remember when the media and those who represented us in DC could be trusted. Sadly, it seems those days have passed. There’s an old adage, what’s the definition of insanity…. doing the same thing over and over again.

We have allowed insanity to take over our nation in our politics and media. As long as we continue to send the same people back to Washington DC over and over again we will continue to see the same results. And if we continue to support “our” media choice without holding their feet to the fire for truth and not idealology, we are the problem.

America isn’t as divided as some want us to believe. Sure there will always be issues that we will disagree on, but for the most part, we are all on the same side. We want to live in a safe America where every citizen is respected, where we remain a beacon to the world and where the rights of every citizen is honored. We want to be an America that makes life better for the generations to come, where each and every American has the opportunity to surpass the dreams and expectations of those who came before us and where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is available to us all.

I think it’s time that we the people start showing up and letting the fringes know they don’t represent us. We seek common ground with cooperation. It’s time that we the people let the those who want to divide us know that they don’t represent the ideals that built America.

The next time you see, read or hear someone from the fringe, on either side, spewing their hate, think about it. Who gains both financially and in power with those hate filled words? The answer is simple, the ones who benefit are those who gain wealth and power, the media, social media and politicians.

We the people deserve better, but we the people need to take our role back and hold the purveyors of fringe thinking accountable. Vote them out, tune them out and let’s move on as Americans.

Deep Roots, Deeper Memories…

Every family has one, the spot where photos are taken to capture those special moments in life.

For my family, it was a camellia bush located just outside our garage. In a small triangular shaped flower bed formed at the angle of our driveway and an outside storage closet.

When we moved into our house, mama had planted the small bush and through the years it grew and blossomed. Most years, vibrant pink blooms would appear each year around Christmas. Mama never missed a chance to proudly state “my camellias are in bloom.”

A single blossom would center the table for our Christmas Eve dinners and my brother Tom’s grave would get one too.

I think for mama, her camellia bush marked the passage of time, from one year to the next. I think she probably looked on those flowers and remembered what had come and gone through the years of our families life.

Over the years, the camellia bush was our picture backdrop for birthdays, first days of school, graduations, the arrival of grand-children, Easter pics, Halloween costumes, off to college photos and every other occasion worth “remembering.” Whether in bloom or not, the camellia bush, was our go to spot.

When my parents died, my niece Chelsea moved into my childhood home. As her family has expanded, she has kept the tradition of pics in front of the camellia bush going.

Photos of Chelsea and her now husband Brett and then their daughters Jaydynn and Hadley are now marked at the same spot where some of the first photos of her were taken.

This year, Chelsea and Brett have started a total remodel of the family home. A needed expansion and modernization of the house has begun to make it perfect for them.

As Chelsea began her remodel, it became painfully obvious that the camellia bush was in the way. Through numerous redesigns and plans, nothing changed, that camellia had to go.

I think as she planned, the camellia stressed Chelsea out as much as any detail of her plan, because the bush meant as much to her and held as many memories of her childhood and now motherhood, as it did the rest of our family.

Last week, Chelsea and I were together when she got a phone call, she stepped away to take it and when she returned I asked if everything was ok. She told me, that she was scheduling a mover for the tree.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was visiting my parents and brother’s graves, I got a text from Chelsea. Two photos of an excavator gently digging up and moving the camellia bush that had been the site of so many of my families memories.

After running a couple of errands, I stopped by Chelsea’s house on my way home. The excavator was just wrapping up his task and the camellia was gone from it’s original spot. I have to admit, when I drove into the driveway and saw it gone, my heart sank a bit I wasn’t sure if the move was successful or not and the site of so many memories from that little triangular plot of soil could possibly be no more.

Then as I walked around the side of the house and into the backyard I saw Chelsea, smiling and walking my way. The camellia bush now had a new home, centered in the backyard, strategically placed where it can be seen from inside, standing tall.

It’s weird that something as simple as a camellia bush can have so much significance in a families life. From generation to generation that flowering bush has connected us, decades of photos and memories, blooming each year, a reminder of our lives together.

It has a new location, but the camellia has the same home, a place where future pics will be captured, memories will be made and roots will be planted in the legacy of our family tree.

Easter Saturday

Yesterday afternoon my family got together for an Easter cook-out.  It was the first time all of us had been together in many weeks.

This time the gathering was very different.  While we all tried to make it “normal,” there were no hugs, no kisses and the conversations that we had always came back to one thing, the effects of Corona on our lives.

While I enjoyed being with my family, as being in their company is always the medicine I need, I was sad.  This new phase of life we are all limping through hovers like a dark cloud over every aspect of our lives.

Like most families, opinions on the virus vary from person to person, but we respect each other’s thoughts and yesterday, more than normal, we just accepted those varying opinions.

As I came home from our cook-out, feeling isolated from those I love, missing a hug and kiss, I held tight to the knowledge that although we are separated by six feet, the love we have for one another knows no bounds.

This morning, as I attended Easter Sunday church online, once again the loneliness of our current situation weighed heavy on my soul.  There is no other way to say it, this sucks.

Listening to the service and the music I began to feel a peace in knowing that, as the Preacher said, “there has never been a situation that defeated our God & this one won’t be the first.”

During his sermon, the Pastor laid out the Easter story, but paid special attention to Saturday.  You see, Saturday was the time when there was no hope, our Lord was dead, the world seemed destined to loss.

Using a parallel for today’s circumstances, he equated the times we are now in with that Saturday.  The loneliness, constant bad news we see on our television and computer screens looks hopeless, the despair we feel not knowing when this will end.

But what is different today than that Saturday, more than two-thousand years ago, is we KNOW things will get better.  We KNOW we will move past this and we KNOW we will be able to eventually get back to the lives we once enjoyed.

On that Saturday, so many years ago, the people who walked the land didn’t have that promise, they had to wait until the next day, Sunday….. RESURRECTION SUNDAY, before they saw the real power of our Lord and his greatest miracle.

If you are a believer, that powerful day, when Jesus rose from the grave gives us hope during these dark days.

We will come through this, we will once again hug our loved ones, kiss the cheek of our friends and get back to a life that we once knew.

This Saturday will end, and a new day will dawn.

 

Unplanned, Uneventful, Perfection

Do you ever have one of those days that is totally unplanned, totally uneventful and turns into total perfection?  Today has been one of those days for me.

To start, I didn’t wake up until almost 9AM, something I rarely do and three hours later than I usually rise.

After a leisurely morning around the house, I headed out around noon. I had waited until noon, as that is when the recycling center opens and I wanted to drop off my trash.

I arrived to drop my trash and no one was in line, again, something rare especially on a Saturday or Sunday.

I got out of the car and was greeted by the sweet lady who always has a smile on her face and kind word for everyone who stops by.  As I finished dumping my trash, she smiled and said, as she always does, “have a blessed day angel.”  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was moving that way.

I ran by the store and wrote my monthly column for Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine.   This month I had been struggling with my column.  I knew what I wanted to write about, but the words weren’t flowing in my mind yet, it was a struggle.

With tomorrow’s deadline on the horizon, I sat down at my laptop and 20 minutes later almost 1,000 words had flowed from my fingers onto the screen.  I did some edits, but somehow the words that I had been wanting to say came.  (I hope you all like them, the new GML will be out in early November.)

After submitting my column, I cleaned the inside of my very dirty car and gave it a quick wash.

I then came home and decided to rake and blow the leaves off my drive and then put out some Halloween decorations I had forgotten about.

Now, the day is coming to an end.  As I write this I am sitting on my screen deck, enjoying a beautiful Fall day, my girl Lita at my feet.  An awesome 70’s Disco playlist on in the background that Alexa chose.

See what I mean….unplanned, uneventful, perfection.

Farewell and Thank You Sir

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John McCain died yesterday.

There is a poem called “the dash,” which in short says the dash on ones tombstone between the day he was born and the day he dies is the most important.

The dash, tells the story of ones life, the triumphs, their tragedies and the way they lived.

John McCain’s dash was filled with more than most lives; he lived, he loved, he was passionate and most of all he served.

From his days in Vietnam, his years in a POW confinement, service to the United States House of Representatives and Senate, John McCain’s life is an example of service that few will ever equal.

I supported Senator McCain in the run up to the Republican nomination in 2000 and when he lost, he lost with grace and dignity.

In the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential Campaign, I told people close to me that if John McCain ran, I would be on board with his candidacy as I have always felt the country would be better with him at the helm.

I didn’t vote for him.  I believed that the hope and change of President Obama was what would be better for our country.  Many days I regretted my final choice, but in the end I know I did the right thing.

As he went back to the Senate he continued to serve, he stepped up in ways that were even bigger than before and his position as a Statesman grew.

In a political environment where narcissism, and idealogues seems to be the norm, Senator McCain was different.  When he spoke it mattered and I believe he always used his vote in the way he truly felt would be best for our country.  Not always popular and not always right, but with a heartfelt conviction that is rare in today’s politic.

John McCain’s honor will be missed in our national debate and pursuit moving forward.

From all reports, John McCain was exactly what you would think.  He was a friendly, passionate man who loved life, loved his family, loved his country and loved his fellow-man.

People who knew him talk about his ability to work with anyone who had the best interest of the country at heart, no matter their party affiliation.  Isn’t that what we most hope for in our elected officials?  Sadly, now that the Maverick has left us, it seems there are few if any to fill that void.

John McCain’s life of service will be celebrated over the coming days.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents will laud all he did in his rich life.  We will hear stories of his life, we will read commentaries of  his rough spirit and loving grace.

In the days to come we will hear words like statesman, servant, bi-partisan, maverick, war-hero and family man.  Most of all we will hear how John McCain loved America and only wanted the best for its citizens, these and many of the other adjectives used will be worthy.

John McCain was one of a kind a voice that is now silent, but hopefully a legacy that will continue.

When the words of John McCain’s life are spoken in honor of this incredible man, hopefully they will unite something in all of us to help make our country a better place.  A country where we work together to get things done and understand that compromise is a noble pursuit.

If we learn anything from John McCain’s life and now death we must learn, respect and act on these attributes, or else he will have lived in vain.

Patriots like John McCain teach us, they lead us and because of them our lives are richer.

John McCain will be missed, his dash was full and overflowed with goodness.

Thank you Senator John McCain, for a life well lived and for your service to America.