Who are we?
Are we going to “build back better”? Or are we going to “transition to greatness”? Are we fighting for the “soul of America”? Or are we undergoing a “tremendous” epoch that emphasizes “America First” and excludes everyone else?
Personally, I would like to go out to dinner, hug family and friends without worrying about getting or giving COVID-19, spend a few dollars without anxiety, see a movie, go to a concert and deal with the news without a clenching feeling in the stomach. But that all seems out of reach right now.
Quietude, without constant outrage, would be excellent.
But we are called to more profound issues.
Should we be the conscience of the world, sticking up for and demanding human rights? Or should we be in it for what we as a country can get, mostly material?
Should we strive to make people around the world respect and admire our country? Or should we settle for being an object of pity, a remembrance of things past.
Are we going to sacrifice now for a better future for our children? Or are we going to tell children they are on their own and good luck. Don’t get sick. Educate yourself. Look out for your little sister and brother. Cinch your belt tighter. Hope you can get a good job someday.
Are we going to tell parents they have to choose between their jobs or watching over their children?
Are we going to help the struggling middle class and small-business owner or give another round of tax cuts to the wealthy so they can buy a baby blue Lamborghini and more stock?
Will we offer refuge to persecuted families from other lands seeking a part of the American dream? Or just announce that dream is dead. Doors shut.
Are we going to ensure that every eligible American can vote, vote safely and have that vote counted? Or are we the country that will do our best to make sure that the rich and well-off, with currently approved skin tones, are the ones who control the future.
Are we going to do everything we possibly can to keep foreign interference out of our elections? Or just accept that the foreign hackers are here, well entrenched, welcomed by those in power and active. So what.
Are we going to continue to be that country whose top law enforcement official sends jackbooted thugs into cities to beat up protesters and snubs his nose at members of Congress questioning his actions? Or are we going to realize that law and order and the Constitution, including the First Amendment, are compatible.
Will we be the people who provide proper personal protective gear for medical workers and first responders? Or will we be the country that tolerates corruption running rampant in procurement and contracting, advocates ineffective and dangerous treatments and assures people all is well when it isn’t.
Will we hold everyone to the same rule of law or will we permit the powerful and favored few to become wealthy beyond imagination at our expense?
Are we going to rebuild our roads, bridges, ports and electric grid? Or do we spend the money on big corporations, hoping they will build a little in exchange for becoming too big to fail?
Are we going to help save the world from extreme temperatures, famines, droughts, flooding, plagues and dramatic loss of species? Or will we work with other nations to stop manmade damage to the environment.
Do we want to close our borders to those who weren’t born Americans? Or do we want to encourage young scholars to come to America, study in our universities, learn our culture and help make more corners of the Earth better off, giving back to us as much as they get along the way?
Do we want to know that what our political leaders tell us is the truth, even when it is unpleasant, or continue to shrug our shoulders at what we are told because everyone knows it is all lies.
Do we want continued outrage and drama and titillation? Or do we seek measured response, competence, fairness and civility.
Really, people. Who are we?
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.
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