Editorial: Let Us Not Perish From the Earth


Let Us Not Perish From the Earth

For those of us old enough to remember when elections—and the American political system itself—were “of the people and by the people and for the people,” it is somewhat difficult to be excited, much less inspired, by the process that will unfold across the nation next Tuesday. In what has arguably become an increasingly nasty and pitiful squabble of the politicians, by the politicians and for the politicians, Americans are now faced with a choice between political extremes and actual political extremists who have been primaried into their races by a severely broken redistricting system devised of, by and for the politicians whose interest in winning far outweighs their interest in, or ability to, effectively or adequately govern the country. Civilized discourse has become unbridled discord.

Candidates who would likely be mystified by a grade-school level civics test are now poised to take seats in the once-revered and sacrosanct United States Senate. This is not because they are intelligent, reasonable, or even sane, but because we have been led to believe that “our” party needs to be in control; so that “we” can undo what the other party has done before “they” can undo what “we” have undone. Doesn’t matter the candidate as long as the person is one of “us.” It seems almost difficult to remember that there were two centuries when “us” was all Americans; “we the people,” not we the Blue and we the Red.

It is nearly incomprehensible that we are heirs of the “Greatest Generation,” where nearly 300,000 Americans gave their “last measure of devotion” to save democracy, or the over 200,000 who died in what has recently been referred to as the “first” American Civil War. Surely the bones of these sacrificed defenders of democracy are now churning and rattling in graves across America and Europe as our very hard-fought democracy hangs in the balance.
What is perhaps most saddening, and most frightening, is that “we the people” have fallen into the political trap set out for us by our faltering and failing “leaders.” Friends are dropped and relatives spurned for their political leanings. As the political elites rush headlong into the far reaches of the ideological spectrum and into the radical fringes, we have allowed ourselves to be herded there as well. Like hogs to the slaughter, we dwell in an increasingly pungent abattoir of distrust and disinformation where the exits and the salvation they promise are slowly but inexorably slamming shut.

Abraham Lincoln, in his 10-sentence Gettysburg Address, encouraged his audience—and the hundreds of millions who would come to know his words—to be “dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

In the polling booths this year and forever hence, vote for moderation, common sense, intelligence, unity, peace and democracy so that our precious American experiment, highly enlightened and singularly unique, does not perish from the earth.

2 thoughts on “Editorial: Let Us Not Perish From the Earth

  1. Thomas Osborn

    The rise of the modern digital age, filled with sudden shifts from subject to subject, a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows punctuated with commercials has rendered a large portion of our society linguistically and intellectually mutated. There is nonstop stimulation. Seldom does anything occupy our attention for more than a few seconds. Nothing has context. Images overwhelm words. We are perpetually confused, but always entertained. We barely remember what we saw or heard a few minutes earlier. We lack the ability to detect lies or think rationally. This is by design of the elites who manipulate us.

    Those who seek to communicate outside of digital structures to question or challenge the dominant narrative, to deal in ambiguity and nuance, to have discussions rooted in verifiable fact and historical context, are becoming incomprehensible to most of modern society. As soon as they employ a language that is not grounded in the dominant clichés and stereotypes, they are not understood. Television, computers and smartphones have addicted a generation and conditioned it to talk and think in the irrational, incoherent baby talk it is fed day after day. This cultural, historical, economic and social illiteracy delights the ruling elites who design, manage and profit from these sophisticated systems of social control. Armed with our personal data and with knowledge of our proclivities, habits and desires, they adeptly manipulate us as consumers and citizens to accelerate their amassing of wealth and consolidation of power.

    Academic institutions, which should be the repositories of culture and literacy, are transforming themselves, often with corporate money, into adjuncts of the digital age, expanding departments that deal with technology, engineering and computer science (the largest major at universities such as Princeton and Harvard) while diminishing the disciplines that deal with art, philosophy, ethics, history and politics. These disciplines, rooted in print, are the only antidotes to our cultural death.

  2. Michael Stein

    Thanks for your thoughtful and well-written message. The only bone I would pick is the implied sense of false equivalence between the two sides of the political spectrum. The Dems certainly have their share of crazies, but the most extreme elements remain on the fringe despite the outsized attention they get from the media and the opposition. With the Republican (Trump) Party of today, the inmates are clearly running the asylum and in all likelihood (sadly) they may soon be running the country.

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