It was said by many at the time that Sept. 11, 2001 would change the world forever.
There was a prevailing opinion that the majority of people, particularly in this country, would set aside pettiness and confrontational differences of opinion — replacing those with understanding and acceptance. We would see each other as fragile human beings instead of adversaries with different faiths, beliefs or political ideologies.It was as if there was a metaphorical line drawn in the atmosphere that put “the bad guys” on one side and “the good guys” on the other.
Fast forward eight years. Oh, there’s a line, alright, but it’s a divisive one that has our entire nation split over political parties and agendas.
It is patently absurd that people complain about the sitting president of the United States addressing our nation’s students and giving them a pep talk at the dawn of a new school year. It is just as silly and laughable as when the other side blamed the horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, on then-President George W. Bush. I said it then, and I’ll say it again. Terrorists attacked us on that fateful day, not the Republicans.
But that’s what we’ve become.
It’s become almost a gang mentality for party loyalists. Instead of opening fire on someone for wearing the “wrong” colors on the street, the political aficianados brand and antagonize people based on their personal political beliefs. While eight years ago we were united as one in the face of an unprovoked attack on our citizenry, we have regressed back into political discord, and even taken the distrust and hatred between the parties to new levels.
No longer do citizens get the news from Walter Cronkite at night — no, that down-the-middle reporting of the news of the day has been replaced by FOX analysts and “The Daily Show.” We now get the news from “people who think like us,” rather than from people who care about getting the story right and offering both sides.
I’m on a rant today, aren’t I? Well, I’m a little disgusted. Our nation took a shot to the chin on Sept. 11, 2001, and has seen our economy teeter precariously on the edge of the toilet for several years. We have men and women overseas engaged in battle with a ruthless and persistent enemy, and have locked horns with each other with venom and hatred over proposed changes to our health care system.
Plus, my Orioles absolutely stink. Again. I mean, come on, how hard can it be to put together a bullpen that doesn’t serve up home runs like crab puffs at a cocktail party? Do you mean to tell me we can’t scare up one big bat through all the high draft picks we’ve received from finishing last every seas...
But I digress.
I’m ranting like this because I’m worried. I’m concerned that the divide in our nation will become too wide to breach. I worry that if each issue brought before our decision-makers is attached to a political party, the issue will either die a slow and inglorious death or become the lightning rod for more open hostility, and widen the gap even more.
I was angry during a lot of the past administration because of the lack of respect being paid to our then-leader. I’m angry now about the same lack of respect for our current leader.
We don’t have to agree with what our president or lawmakers want to do, and that’s a good portion of the fun of being an American. We get to disagree. We get to debate. We get to vote somebody else in if we don’t like the direction our nation is headed. Unlike many nations around the world, we don’t have to just silently accept the status quo and take whatever is shoved down our collective throats.
We as citizens have a choice in political parties because we have the opportunity to vote in that party’s primaries and push the agenda of a candidate we believe best fits our personal beliefs. We have the right to argue and make our voices heard if we don’t agree with something.
But we also have a great responsibility as Americans to be united. The elected officials in this nation have a profound obligation to serve all of us, not just the ones who agree with them or put them in office with their votes.
As we should have learned on Sept. 11, 2001, our enemies attack all of us, not a particular political party. We’d be best served to remember that, and stand together. Even when we disagree.