Sunday, August 25, 2013

Is There a "Voice of Reason"?

It seems as if the word "compromise" has disappeared from our lives.  It seems as if the words "tolerance," "moderation," and "forgiveness" are also in short supply.  Fueled by "Hate TV" and slanted journalism, it is difficult to sort out the problems facing our country -- much less the solutions required to fix these problems.

This summer I have listened to many conversations at gatherings of friends and family.  Much of the time, people speak their minds on politics, religion, issues of the day, but never listen to the responses of others.  Or, they belittle the beliefs and ideas of others.  We are bombarded on a daily basis by left and right-leaning TV news stations, talk radio, and internet news and propaganda.  It is often difficult to discern the kernel of truth in this abundance of information.

It seems politicians will go to any length to undermine the opposing party.  I truly believe at this moment, some segments of the Republican Party would prefer to see the economy crash again, just to prove that President Obama was wrong in his attempts to stabilize the economy.  Why is it that in the past few years, each party seems vehemently opposed to any legislation proposed by the other party?  Why is there no compromise anymore.  Where are the "cooler heads" who used to work diligently to bring the ideas of each party together to craft legislation that benefited the people of this great nation.  Now, each side is intent on "winning" as opposed to "governing."

Also, the underlying racism in our country sickens me.  It is not just a case of black and white; there is a pervasive distrust and dislike of almost anyone who is not a white, Christian citizen.  This is disturbing.  Our nation was built by immigrants, and today a new generation of immigrants of many colors, races and creeds contributes to our culture and economy.  Why do we hate anyone who is different from us?  Diversity enhances our lives.

It seems as if almost everyone I listen to has "drawn a line in the sand" over every major issue in our country -- gun control, abortion, gay marriage.  Why must it be this way?  Can't we agree to disagree on some issues.  We live in a democracy where the majority rules.  Can't we gracefully accept when we lose the battle over an issue?  When I was young, I was strongly opposed to abortion, and even now, I find it disturbing.  However, the majority of people in this nation consider this one of women's basic rights -- I accept this and support it; who am I to argue that my beliefs hold more political clout than those of the majority? 

We live in a society where greed and power rule.  The middle class is disappearing; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  This is not "class warfare", it is the reality of our lives today.  And yet, in order to win an election, politicians must raise huge amounts of money for their campaigns -- and much of this money comes from the corporations whose greed and power will at least partially control the politicians' decisions. 

However, as our lawmakers cater to the rich and powerful, many of the problems in our economy are blamed on the poor -- those who need the "handouts" and "entitlements" -- those who cannot afford to house, feed and clothe their families and pay for healthcare on the low wages they receive for their labor. 

We need those "cool heads" and those "voices of reason" today -- they are critical to saving our nation.  We need people who will put the good of the nation above their own desire for political power.  Our problems are complex; there is a huge schism between those who lean to the left and those to the right.  The "line in the sand" becomes deeper and more difficult to surmount as we listen to the heated rhetoric in the media. 

We need good ideas from both sides of the aisle in Congress; we need cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of government at all levels.  Let us all hope that a strong voice of reason steps forward and prevails, so our great nation can be saved. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

As August Settles In

As I walked the dog at midnight, the heavy darkness of an August evening was backlit by lovely moonlight filtered through high clouds.  The tall pine branches cast shadows across the moon, and the deep quiet reminded me that August is definitely here. 

This summer has been a disappointing one for me.  Hot, humid weather in July and a knee injury have kept me sidelined from my usual summer activities.  The garden desperately needs weeding; plans for daily walks with my little granddaughter never materialized, and I feel a bit of sadness to know that there are only three weeks left until school begins. 

However, I do so love August.  The early morning birdsong is subdued now, and darkness falls quickly and thickly in the evening as I sit on the porch.  My hydrangea bushes are heavy with their voluptuous blooms and the pepper and tomato plants are ripe on the vine.  Fields of sunflowers, purple loosestrife and goldenrod dot the highways.  It seems the world is filled with color and abundance.

There are early harbingers of autumn, though, as the ferns begin to turn a bit brown, stores are filled with notebooks, pencils, and back-to-school sales, and summer flowers begin to fade.  The carefree feeling of June -- with two months of sunshine and freedom ahead -- are now but a memory.  Suddenly, we must resign ourselves to the fact that summer is waning.  We plan get-aways and try to squeeze in all of the summer activities we can.  Soon we will be back to schedules and sweaters.

There is a peacefulness in these languid August days.  The excitement of early summer is replaced with a more quiet enjoyment.  Even though I have not accomplished many of my summer plans, and still cannot take Alivia for morning walks on the nearby rail trail as we had planned, I am content to savor the beauty of this month.  I see August not as an ending, but as a beginning -- autumn holds its own special pleasures, and as August wanes, September hurries in.

After a taste of cooler weather for the past week, the summer-lovers are happy to hear that warmer temperatures are returning.  There is still time for picnics, swimming, boating, camping, and all of the much-loved activities of summer.  The farmers' markets are filled with fresh vegetables for salads and grilling.  What can possibly taste better than a slice of fresh tomato topped with a bit of salt and some chopped basil leaves.  As steaks sizzle on the grill, we can sit on our decks and porches and savor these last weeks of summer pleasures.  But, as the gentle twilight of early summer changes to the earlier settling of heavy, quiet darkness in mid-August, we know in our hearts that autumn is waiting patiently in the wings -- carpe diem!!