What is the one thing that America needs in the worst way? More jobs? A reduction in the national debt? More moral fiber? More guns? More freedom? More Socialism? More religion? Nahhh, it isn’t any of those things although that’s what we spend most of our time arguing about when it comes to politics.
I remember a time when those issues didn’t matter all that much. While we certainly did discuss them and often fell on different sides of the argument, they weren’t the first arrows pulled from the quiver when Americans went to battle over politics. We were all paying attention to something else. Something bigger. Something more ominous out on that horizon. Our common external enemy.
In the early part of the 20th century during World War I, it was the Germans. Kaiser Wilhelm. After vanquishing that threat (at least temporarily) we had a great time until the economy crashed in 1929 and we ended up with Hoovervilles all over the place. Times sucked.
Then on December 7, 1941 we were attacked at Pearl Harbor and guess what? We had a new external enemy. Three of them in fact. Japan, followed by Germany and Italy in quick succession. Hallelujah! The economy righted itself due to the war effort and things were looking up. Until that war ended.
Then we needed another external enemy to focus on and we found one in the USSR and communism. So we went to war in Korea and accomplished little or nothing other than a stalemate for the past 60 years centered on the DMZ at the 38th parallel. Shortly thereafter we had the McCarthy hearings with all that bloviation about how our government was being and had been infiltrated by the Reds. Less than 5 years later we had the Russian Missile Crisis. A short period of time after that we went to Vietnam, proving that we had learned nothing in Korea and stayed there for over 10 years. Again we accomplished next to nothing but we were still staring at that bogeyman with the hammer and sickle. Mutually Assured Destruction. The spread of communism. The Cold War. We were happy and distracted by our mutual external enemy.
Here at home, if my liberal views and your conservative views didn’t mesh we simply choked down our Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of discontent and paid attention to the real bad guy over there. Them. Those guys. Our mutual enemy.
We fought communism and the Soviets for 40+ years. And then we won.
But did we really win? We lost our greatest asset. Our external enemy. We’ve been trying hard to replace them for over 20 years since the fall of the Soviet Union and where are we today?
Still searching for a bad guy.
We tried Iraq. Sorry but they were not worthy of the blood, sweat, and tears we spent trying to make them the new bad guy. Don’t get me wrong, Iraq was not a saintly nation but as an opponent they were more like one of Joe Louis’ Bum of the Month Club fights than anything else. Same with Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran as well. These tomato cans are not worthy opponents of the USA or the time we waste on them in our collective psyches.
We need that external enemy. We want that external enemy. Otherwise we have to turn inward on ourselves – which has been happening for the past 10 years. The age old liberal/conservative clashes that have remained on the back burner and have been slowly simmering for years have finally gotten jacked up to high. We’re boiling over and making a mess of ourselves, but eventually we are the ones who will have to apron up and clean the kitchen of our country.
We’re all Americans. We can disagree all day about governmental policy and often do. But it doesn’t further our mutual aims. It doesn’t solve any problems. It’s a circle jerk of civic disgruntlement.
If we don’t find a way to talk to one another without demonizing anyone who doesn’t agree with us we are doomed. Over. We shall become a footnote in history.
Do you want that?
I know I don’t. I’ve got kids (and one day I hope grandkids) that are going to have to live on this smoldering rock after I’m long gone. If we don’t find a way to coexist peacefully I only see one option out on that horizon.
Love your brothers and sisters before it’s too late people.