By C.Chris ChandlerI was clearly moved by your piece in the Mirror. I want to respond in kind. First of all, I have a better understanding of how you think and what you feel has happened to this country in the past fifty or so years. I have an aunt who is approaching her ninth decade. She once told me this isn’t the same country she remembered as a young woman and she thought it was a shame. And you know, in some ways, I’d have to agree with both you and her. And though I am approaching my sixth decade, I still see some very bright hopes for this nation and our place in the world.
One of the things we tend to do in our lives is hold on. We hold on tightly. We hold on to our loved ones, we hold on to our savings (although that is getting tougher every day-can I get an Amen?) We hold on to our beliefs, our culture and our sanity. But, because we hold on so tightly, we sometimes are unable to let go and pick up and hold another piece…compassion, giving, volunteering, sacrifice…these are a few of the pieces we can so easily drop.
Let’s take sacrifice. The generation you came from and my aunt came from has been called the greatest generation. I cannot disagree, and I never would. My mother and father were of that time and I heard plenty of stories about the harshness of living and the plight of many, many poor in this nation with no safety net. Then the war came. And many young men (many from the Shore, including my own mother’s first husband did not come back home). That, Mr. Zahn is the ultimate sacrifice. I am still humbled by it. We have since had several wars since. And dare I say it, we have not been successful in any of them. Korea ended with a stalemate, Vietnam we lost and we are still figuring out ways to keep both Iraq and Afghanistan from devolving into total chaos ten years on. How did we get here? We won the one that counted, how did we lose against much smaller, more impoverished nations? I think this is where your statement, the leaders lie may come in.
The way I’ve seen it, there are forces within and outside our elected government that have been making world policy for these past seventy years and doing so recklessly. The fiascos created during the nineteen fifties in Central and South America and CIA led coups and tactics would attest to that. The war on Communism was another drain on energy and resources when economic and political maneuvering would have been just as substantial. This supposed war was a waste in the first place, because we failed to deal directly with the third and undisposed dictator, Stalin. But, of course, hind sight is twenty-twenty. And that ship sailed, as they say. So, for the next thirty or so years, we fought and outspent in crushing amounts (space program, Vietnam, wars in Central America and the middle East) and finally toppled the old guard just to have it be replaced with the new guard. All the while, the American people were in the dark, fed disinformation and relegated to offering their money and sons and daughters to the machine. So, yes, I can see your point. But, times change…people, not so much.
Today, we have a multitude of information right at our fingertips. Some would argue too much information and I would agree. You can cherry pick your truth, or you can do some honest and deep searching for the real truth. There are books that point out the fallacies of our history as well as the greatness. There are web sites that print daily the truth as it is occurring all over the world. There is spoken word and written word and on and on where the truth lies. Funny that. You just got to poke around.
Is the world broken? No, Mr. Zahn, we are. We do not hold our leaders accountable. We do not hold our corporations accountable. We do not even hold our educators and our preachers and our news reporters accountable anymore. Some of us do not hold ourselves accountable. Well, I do! And I am calling you out. These broken homes and fatherless children you write about. Do you know any? Have you been a big brother or foster father to any? This waste of money you see…called out any elected officials lately? Written a letter to a congressman stating your views on the national scene and how it seems broken, lately? Gotten answers? Why not? Do you weight the balance of the person versus the job and see the influence behind their back and take into account the position he or she has been placed in and tried to formulate what can change this? Have you shared your thoughts of this with others who might disagree with you? We are all accountable for our leaders. If they are lying to us, it is incumbent upon us to call them out, hold them accountable (research them!) and if found lacking, vote them from office. As I see it, the power is not with them per say, but the money and the influence behind the scenes. That Mr. Zahn is where the real lies are generated. The influences (Corporations, Wall Street, Banking and Defense interest) are the main steering committee. You and I and folks like us (my dear lovely aunt) we are pawns. The unrest is media driven. The lies are spread and believed by misinformed people. The mentally unbalanced and desperate people sometimes react and the media spreads their story like wildfire to induce fear, division, and a feeling of helplessness within the competent citizenry to redirect our world view. The focus is taken off of the real problems this country faces. It is placed in emotional hot button issues that really have very little to do with you or I. Take poverty for example. There will always be the poor. In a capitalist system that’s how it works. But the spin is, we (taxpayers) are paying for shiftless, lazy, drug selling thugs (translate: a person of color) to live on our dime. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there is a percentage who abuse the system (both white and black), but the majority of people on welfare are there for a good reason. It is a guaranteed security net for disenfranchised people, the elderly and many, many children who otherwise would be starving but for subsidized income. But mention welfare queen to some and the tirade begins. These folks are misinformed, and undereducated in the ways our government works. But what truly caused a huge increase in poverty in just the past ten years? How about the last thirty years? Fifty years ago? Think about it. Do we even talk about that now? I would be interested in your answer. History knows and will out the truth over time. By then, however for us, it may be too late.
So, what is the news feed de jour this week? What will it be next week? What is truth? Where do we get our information? What do we do with all this information? You speak of insanity and this nation. The definition of insanity is attempting to do the same thing again and again expecting different results. We are being led by the nose by incompetents. We have given the reins of power to powerful people who know nothing of our interest or care to know. It is not only in the houses of power in Washington, it reins in our State Assembly and in our very own hometowns. These are people who are not truly informed on the fragility of human existence. People who do not realize where the real power lies and just how small and dangerous human beings truly are. People for whom money doesn’t talk, it swears. But, oddly, it never seems enough. People with the law behind them and the authority to unleash the hounds of hell should the citizenry truly challenge them. These are the people who would have no qualms in doing so. People who have no respect for the earth, its resources or the unfortunates who happen to occupy that land they intend on exploiting. Yes, your parents (and mine) would wonder what has happened to our country. We’ve been duped. We’ve been fooled. We were sold a bill of goods that promised us all the American Dream. It never existed. It’s a dream. And while we were busy working for that dream to come true, the shop keepers and the mayors and town council members and the state delegates and the Representatives and the Congressman and the lawyers and the bankers and the man behind the curtain ran off with the very hope that keep that dream alive. We were once the greatest (and richest) nation on earth. What happened, you ask. We were too busy dreaming and we lost it. When we woke up…it was gone.
Andy, thanks for your article. Gives me a chance to put in my rebuttal.