TIME FOR A CHANGE
To all those who wished me a Happy Birthday, thank you so much. It means a lot to me to hear from friends I have had throughout all my 83 years. You make it worth the time and (not always enough) thought that I have put in over the years writing my blog.
This is a Big Day for me in other respects, too. But before I get to that, I must note that I have never quite understood why I am being acknowledged on being born rather than my mother for giving me birth. She’s the one who bore the pain, changed my diapers (I think Dad was glad he traveled for a living), taught me the difference between right and wrong (but struggled with teaching me why I should keep my mouth shut at times) and rejoiced with me when things went right and sympathized with me when things went wrong. My first fondest memory of her was when she got down on the floor with me when I was probably about three or four and helped me build a city with blocks and toy cars. We spent hours at it, she never complaining about crawling around on the floor after just having given birth to my sister. My most embarrassing moment was when she shushed me when I spoke up at a Den meeting of the Cub Scouts, correcting the speaker who just happened to be the pastor of the First Methodist Church.
Today, I will stop posting my blog to the public on Facebook. I will continue to post to my friends, as a way of staying in touch. But most of what I posted to the public contained something negative about Donald J. Trump because I am a political junkie. I am tired of being the only one at our Friday night Fifth Floor Dining Club social distancing cocktail party who still watches the talking heads political shows. Mostly, I am simply weary of being negative. Skeptical, yes; critical, certainly. But I felt Trump left me little choice. Almost everything he does or says is negative or misleading. But I am not going to let him ruin my day anymore. He is not just unqualified to be President, but unfit and about all I could do about it at this stage of life was write negative stuff. I understand, if not agree, why some voters might prefer Trump. Our nation has changed dramatically in the last decade. For some that change is unwelcome. I think I would enjoy a colloquy with those friends who disagree with me. I would like this blog to become a civil forum, where an exchange of differing perspectives is based on a respect for the other’s opinion. Frankly, in this polarized environment, I may be expecting too much.
The problem became acute when I realized that I wasn’t really contributing much to the discussion about Trump because no one I have talked to or exchanged emails with over several weeks in several different venues and who cared to share an opinion planned to vote for him. Not a single person. Almost all of the comments about what I wrote, most of them shared via Facebook, agreed with what I had written. Given the advancing arthritis in my hands from years of pounding a keyboard, I now have an excuse for hanging it up. That, of course, isn’t going to happen. Writing is so ingrained in me that I will probably be editing the eulogy at my funeral (assuming there is one). And it is likely to still have typoes. (Couldn’t resist.)
I have a very ambivalent attitude toward Facebook and that is why I am not, like a lot of friends, abandoning it entirely. When it was introduced, I had high hopes for it because I thought it held the potential to become a public forum, something like a worldwide Letters to the Editor, at a time when it was needed most. Unfortunately, the most recent study of Facebook by people “handpicked” by Facebook itself, has concluded that “it may once again be negatively influencing American voters” and that “it has to decide whether its approach to hateful speech and noxious content” remains tenable. Even Letters to the Editor have an editor. As a good friend has said, “If you have unrestrained free expression in a democracy, you’re bound to get a lot of s***. It’s worse when your country has been dumbed down so much. As in television.” Whether you agree in total with the assessment, there is more than a bushel of truth in it. Hence, Fox News. Democracy is a fragile thing and when attacked by hateful rhetoric, it can be best defended by a more lofty response based on the truth that appeals to our better angels. Unfortunately, we all know that negative campaigning pays off. So protecting democracy is always an uphill push and I will from now on try to find a more positive footpath.
I have been called many things in my life meant to be critical, even insulting, but the one that really hit the mark is that I am an “angry old man.” I certainly am. That I am old is obvious. That I am angry is justified, at least to me. I am angry at what is happening in America right now. I am angry at myself for being angry because there is also something very hopeful going on in America and that augurs well for the future. This dichotomy will be resolved in November by an electorate that has already made up its mind. Nothing I or anyone says at this point will change anyone’s mind.
So thank you, one and all, for sticking with me. There’s more to come, hopefully just less negative, as is fitting between friends.