America: They don't make it like they used to
When I was very young, in the 1950s, Thanksgiving dinner was always a pleasant and memorable affair. The food was wonderfully good, and the visiting family members always lavished my mom with praise for her cooking. We talked to one another. I remember that a few conversations began with the topics of religion and politics. Even at that young age, I recognized that there were strong, insurmountable disagreements. Quickly, the topic was diplomatically diverted to weather, sports, and other benign subjects. When it came time to leave, there were hugs and fond farewells, and cheerful well wishes. Pleasant memories, indeed.
Fifty years later, at least two young members of my extended family have cut off all communication with me over online disagreements about religion and politics. There is no further prospect of "talking with one another." It's not only the disagreements that severed the relationships. It is the vulgar, even obscene language needlessly injected into the brief discussions — not by them, but by their friends. It was when I politely asked for civility that I found myself blocked — by my loved ones — instantly and without warning. I was naïve enough to think that soon, after further contemplation, the bans would be lifted, but, a couple of years later, I still do not hear from them.
In our neighborhood were people of various religions and political persuasions. There were sharp disagreements, for example over zoning proposals, which were expressed vociferously in town hall meetings and political gatherings, or the barber shop, but always with at least enough decorum to forestall any vulgarity and insults. The next day, we resumed working together as neighbors do, looking out for each other. In short, disagreement did not equal hatred.
Why is today so different? Why is it that disagreement so quickly morphs into a hatred that cannot forgive? Why do gangs of politically motivated thugs burn police stations in what has become labeled (after an earnest, unintended parody) as "mostly peaceful" demonstrations? Why are prominent conservatives accosted in restaurants, on airliners, and even in front of their homes? Why is it so risky to express conservative opinions? Why do those on the left, when able, censor any views with which they disagree, even to the point of getting people fired from their jobs, or otherwise deprived of their livelihoods?
Some on the left do these things when they feel their power slipping away. Do we on the right do these things? Will we?
The first page of the Declaration of Independence tells us that "mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves[.]"
Perhaps this is why we conservatives have restrained our reactions. Perhaps the evils, horrible as some of them are, are not yet insufferable. Therefore, instead of acting violently, we vote, we campaign, we educate.
But as we know, from the Declaration itself, there must come a moment at which, if evils do become insufferable, we must abolish the present form and replace it with a better one.
The left, as well, has encountered what its adherents deem to be insufferable injustices. These include any and all restrictions or limitations on abortion, marriage, and soon pedophilia. Its reaction has been to "fundamentally transform America." While the transformation is not yet complete, its extreme leftward velocity has been astonishingly swift in the recent past.
It is, perhaps, the swiftness of that movement, as well as its breathtaking extremism, that is beginning to shake us conservatives from our faith in the electoral system, the justice system, and the so-called free press. Without these three, there is no prospect for an America as we knew it. There is no longer the consolation that, if we lose this election, there will be another one.
Those on the left are clear about this: that if they lose this election, they may lose their power forever. They are desperate and becoming more so.
We on the right are only now beginning to understand, to truly understand, that we are on the cusp of losing forever our culture, our freedom, and our Constitution. There will be no getting them back.
The middle has vanished. The stakes have become all or nothing, now or never.
Happy Thanksgiving Day. It may soon be banned.
Image via Max Pixel.