Thursday, August 20, 2009

We're Lost BUT We're Making Great Time!

You try to take a day off from the noise of the news and you get so far behind they're piping in daylight to you. I thought I was closing my eyes for but a moment but when I opened them, the political topography nationally and (I suspect) locally had changed, again.

This time last week at town meetings across the country we were yelling at each other at the top of our lungs about national health care concerns and coverage, calling one another the (other) "L" Word and 'unfeeling capitalist' until we discovered almost none of us have sore throat coverage in our own health care insurance. And then, just as it looked the US of A was coming to a boil on this, the President suggested he could live with another variation and refinement of what has wound up being called "Obamacare" (for reasons that make no sense at all to me, except it had to be called something I guess).

That seemed to mollify some people who had been unhappy while causing some who had been supportive to become unhappy. I have the funny feeling we're still a good distance away from Grandma's house and when we pull up in front and try to sort out exactly whose Grandma's house we're at, oh boy, won't that be fun? (And all those cookies and milk going to waste.) We do this a lot around here, here being the United States on most days of the week. When you read our history in school, we seem so streamlined, so possessed, so driven. And then you dive beneath the surface, and the movie's a lot different.

We stumbled towards and into Independence--some of the Founders who traveled to Philadelphia in the summer of 1776 weren't firebrands yearning to be free. Some of them got hijacked on their way to the Jersey Shore--some were Steve Carlton fans waiting for the founding of the Phillies. KIDDING! (about the Carlton part), but you can guess where this is going, right? Accidental Excellence. When we get it right, we don't know how we did it and we can't seem to do it again.

Doesn't mean we should give up or just settle for what we've got. If we used that mentality there'd be BILLIONS of people on the shores of Western Europe, and Africa as well as Eastern Asia (standing on one another's shoulders by now, I suppose), staring across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans trying to figure out what was going on 'over there.' (And a really, teeny-tiny group of indigenous peoples on the North and South American continents looking nervously over their shoulders.)

And it's the not-giving-up, the-how-does-this-part-go-on-to-that-part line of inquiry that's also part of who we are. We're a nation of loudmouths (I got a megaphone one year for my birthday; I use it to demand pony rides for my next one) who don't always listen to one each other's words but who, at the end of the day, somehow, can look into one another's eyes and see the heartbeat behind the polemic and understand that the person with whom we are disagreeing isn't evil or ignorant, but just different (and maybe a knucklehead, or is that just me?). And he/she is looking at us in exactly the same way. Walt Kelly's Pogo was on to something, and we could offer to buy him a beer, but there's a lot of resentment about those uneaten cookies and milk from Grandma's house....
-bill kenny

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