Make Change, Not War

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The looting and rioting in the city of Chicago early Monday did not happen in a vacuum. It was a response to the police shooting of a black man in the Englewood neighborhood earlier the night before. While it in no way excuses the violence and destruction, it’s important to understand the root of black citizens’ anger. No amount of peaceful protesting seems to move the needle at all on police abuse of black Americans.

That said, scenes of destruction in America’s cities are playing right into the hands of Republicans and Donald Trump, who is using fear to shore up his dismal ratings among voters ahead of November’s election. If we don’t want four more years of Trump, we need to stem the violence now.

In 1968, Richard Nixon, an eminently unlikable candidate and human being, rode to victory on a “law and order” platform that attracted voters tired of the rioting and civil unrest of the Sixties. Today we have the danger of history repeating itself. We have a grossly unfit president with no moral compass and an outsized ego that has made him a disastrous leader of the American response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, we are seeing 24/7 coverage of looting, burning, and violence in so-called Democratic-controlled cities on Fox News and other conservative media outlets. These images are powerful and scary. No one wants to see our public spaces defiled or our communities descend into lawlessness.

Donald Trump has already shown his willingness to send in federal agents to quell unrest. It’s important that we not give him four more years to sink America further into autocratic rule. Let’s dump Trump and then hold Biden’s and other Democrats’ feet to the fire to make the changes they are promising.

America is in this state because of racism and an income inequality that continues to widen. This won’t get better under a continued Trump administration. Let’s put down our weapons and use the most important one at the ballot box in November.

Fear Itself

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As 2015 draws to a close, many of us have heavy hearts. We worry about terrorism, gun violence, disease, and our economic future. We look at the world and see renewed aggression on the part of Russia, disturbing settlements on islands off the coast of China, and a civil war in Syria that has given rise to the fanatical Islamic State as well as the turmoil and anguish of millions of refugees fleeing the chaos.

Here in the U.S., we are fearful of the next mass shooting, distrustful of our police, angry over the loss of skilled jobs, and worried about what destruction our children may inherit due to climate change. Not much of a “Happy New Year” feeling, is it?

Yet I am reminded that every generation has had its great plagues and challenges. My own parents lived through the Great Depression and The Second World War, when food scarcity and rationing of everyday goods was a way of life. Loved ones came home terribly damaged – or did not come home at all.

My sisters came of age during the turbulent 60s and lived through the fear of the Cuban missile crisis, the Civil Rights movement, and our devastating involvement in the Vietnam War. Their male friends waited with dread for their draft number to come up and prayed that it wouldn’t.

In my own lifetime, I have witnessed the Cold War, the assassination of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr.,┬áthe resignation of a president over the Watergate scandal, more than one economic recession, hostage crises, and bloody coups and scores of those “disappeared” as a result.

My own children witnessed the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001, which ushered in a protracted war on radical fundamentalism in the Middle East. They practice school lockdowns in an age of mass shootings on U.S. soil. They are growing up with their own worries and fears too.

Yet our world has endured through all of these terrible times, and men and women everywhere have bravely carried on in the face of hardship and even disaster.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously told the American people that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He went on to bring the country out of the Great Depression and through the horrors of World War II.

Fear paralyzes and creates anger and hate. What we need in difficult times is hope and resolve to make our world better and stronger. Here’s to a hopeful new year and a commitment not to let our fear get the better of us.