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Bush Advice: Let's Be Kinder, Gentler

Updated on December 19, 2017
William F. Torpey profile image

Graduated NYU in 1964. Worked in NYC for 2 years in public relations then as reporter and editor before retiring from The Hour newspaper.

The 'Education' President?

President George H.W. Bush
President George H.W. Bush

Rodney King Speaks Out

Rodney King speaks to the press after the Infamous Los Angeles Rioting
Rodney King speaks to the press after the Infamous Los Angeles Rioting | Source

When George (H.W.) Bush ran for president he said he wanted "a kinder, gentler" nation. He said he would be the "education president" and the "environmental president."

Unfortunately, when he became president he did little to move the country toward achieving those high-sounding goals.

The truth is that America is moving at a very rapid pace in the other direction, and despite the efforts of many individuals, and a few organizations, the steamroller seems to be cascading uncontrollably toward the abyss.

Rush to Judgment

Perhaps it has always been thus, but, as individuals and as a nation, we are too quick to make profound judgments -- often with little or no facts to support them. Our "rush to judgment" is aggravated by our willingness to follow our hasty decision by the construction of a wall of defense designed to prove we were right. We dare not admit we could be wrong.

The daily diatribes of such radio personalities as Rush Limbaugh are merely a symptom of what we have allowed ourselves to become -- and to do. We have steeped ourselves in bitterness toward criminals, toward politicians, toward foreigners, toward competitors, toward other races and religions, and, sometimes, toward life itself.

We Want Our Piece of Flesh

As our society moves closer to a sharp division between the very rich and the very poor, we are becoming a more and more angry people. We not only favor capital punishment, we want to expand it to more crimes and more criminals -- and we want our piece of flesh; now we want to see the criminals die on television or read about every last detail of their deaths in the press.

We condemn those who favor abortion as murderers who kill fetuses or babies in the womb. We lash out at those who oppose abortion because they force women to seek illegal, dangerous procedures that take the innocent lives of young women.

Which of Us Are Expendable?

As our country's population is counted in the hundreds of millions, and humankind numbers in the billions, we wonder which of us are expendable: the old, the sick, the mentally disadvantaged. We spawn a Dr. (Jack) Kevorkian to guide us through a process we'd rather not be associated with ourselves.

When we saw Rodney King being beaten mercilessly on tape by several Los Angeles policemen, we didn't want to believe our eyes. And when we saw O.J. Simpson being "chased" by police after two brutal murders we abandoned our criminal justice system twice: first by deciding it wasn't necessary to have a trial to determine that O.J. was guilty, and, second, by discarding the decision of a duly constituted jury in favor of our own prejudgments.

If we are going to avoid the excesses that have been the ruination of many other societies in history, and make ours work into the 21st century and beyond, we'll have to pick up on George Bush's theme and make an all-out effort to be kinder and gentler.

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

We don't want anyone to supervise our morals and conduct, but let's not use our hard-earned free speech merely to protect those who would befoul our radio and television. We want our political freedom, but let's not throw out a proven system that worked for 200 years merely to replace it with chaos.

And let's not applaud the laying off of tens of thousands of workers in the name of economy. America's workers may very well be its greatest asset.

E pluribus unum!

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on March 30, 1996. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.

President George H.W. Bush: 'I Want a Kinder and Gentler Nation'

'Can We All Get Along? Can We Get Along'? -- Rodney King

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    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Of course the Gulf States are no utopia. They are safe, and the society is generally polite and respectful, at least outwardly, but human rights are questionable, especially for the lower paid immigrant workforce.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      It's a very sad state of affairs, Paraglider. Nice to see you here. I'm glad to hear the places you mention are safer places to live than many of our Western cities. The USA has been going in the wrong direction for a long time now, and I hope our politicians will not only end the escalation of their harsh rhetoric but turn a new leaf by taking the advice of the elder Bush.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi William - And it continues to hurtle downhill, or so it seems, from this outsider's viewpoint. Many Americans would be surprised to learn that even the Arabian Gulf States of UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain are far safer, kinder gentler places to live and work than many of our western cities. (Though of course they have different problems of their own).

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      It seems we need a "kinder, gentler" nation more today than we did in 1996 when I wrote this piece, Tony. The political climate is approaching downright chaos. Let's hope that America comes to its senses before it's too late.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      I can only very enthusiatically endorse what you have said in this excellent Hub, William. Kinder and gentler is what we all need to be, starting with being kinder and gentler on ourselves and those around us. And refusing to accept the lies that politicians and others try to foist on us.

      Love and peace (and kindness too!)

      Tony

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, Jim. The way things are going today on the political scene I'll need all the brooms I can get.

    • Jim Bryan profile image

      Jim Bryan 

      8 years ago from Austin, TX

      Another great piece, William, and congrats on your choice of melee weapon, mops tend to be much more difficult to wield given the lack of balance caused by the head. I'd lay odds of four to one in your favor that sneakorocksolid is in serious trouble if he crosses swords (handles?) with you.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      If you mop the floor with me, sneakorocksolid, I'll sweep the floor with you. Good luck.

    • profile image

      sneakorocksolid 

      9 years ago

      Hey William, Good points! From one wacko conservative to one loonie tunes liberal watchout next time, I'll mop the floor with you! God Bless.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      We surely don't need to agree to be friends, sneakorocksolid. I welcome a good debate, too. I'm friendly with many right-wing wackos, but when they start spouting what the lies they hear from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Fox "News," I let them know they're off base. It's one thing to disagree with policies, it's another to spew hatred and act irresponsibly -- or endorse the irresponsible behavior of others, as many right wingers are doing today.

    • profile image

      sneakorocksolid 

      9 years ago

      William, just for the record, I don't hate anyone. President Obama is our president and he deserves our support its a tough job. I don't care for some of his socialist overtones but he's still my president.

      I don't hate liberals, gays, femminists, enviro-nazis or the fun bunch over at peta. I just don't agree with them. If they choose to pick a fight, I love a good debate. Don't start something expecting me to turn the other cheek, I will when it's approaite but not in this forum. If you want to debate be a man and debate, don't cry foul if your countered. We don't have to agree to be friends, do we?

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      The recent political claptrap we've seen proves my point, sneakorocksolid. I'm not "ate-up," but it's clear the Obama haters are.

    • profile image

      sneakorocksolid 

      9 years ago

      Whoa! I'm glad I missed this liberal frieght train! We may soon see who has the last laugh. William are you really that ate-up? Just curious.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      10 years ago

      thought you might have some interest in this I saw in today's news:

      Is Dobson's Political Clout Fading?

      "...As Focus on the Family weighs in on the presidential race, however, an examination of the group's records shows that its influence may not be all that it once was, and that its actual base may have become smaller..."

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080125/us_time/isdo...

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I appreciate your comments, Lennonfan and Donna. Nice story about your son, Donna. You might be interested in reading my hub in tribute to Bing. Here's the URL: https://hubpages.com/entertainment/Overdue-Tribute

    • AskTheTrucker profile image

      AskTheTrucker 

      10 years ago from Dunnellon, Fl

      Nice piece. Would like to say, kindness and humility go hand in hand.

      Enjoyed the comments very much also.

      2 of my favorites here; John Lennon and Bing Crosby.

      When my youngest 2 were growing up, I had a picture (I had purchased down the Village in NYC) of John on my frig. Years later, I found out my youngest had told his friends that "he" was his father.

      Luckily, his dad never found out...:)

      Donna

    • Lennonfan profile image

      Lennonfan 

      10 years ago

      well the fact that a hand full of people care about peace is proof enough that is possible now if the rest of the world adheres these words

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I appreciate your comments, Mark, and I hope your head is feeling better now.

    • Mark Knowles profile image

      Mark Knowles 

      10 years ago

      A politician breaking a promise. Well, I am surprised. But, if anyone can change things, it is people such as yourself. Excellent piece of writing. I just hope the right people read it.

      I actually left my own country after banging my head against the wall for too long. The UK is just as bad as the US - we are obsessed with being "superior" Oh well...

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks for commenting, Archbob. At least we don't have to put up with it for eternity (I just read your hub.)

    • Archbob profile image

      Archbob 

      10 years ago

      Well, it has become a dog-eat-dog world out there.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Let's hope, Lennonfan and Kenny, that the world lends an ear to our pleas.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      10 years ago from Chennai

      Yes, "No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man."

    • Lennonfan profile image

      Lennonfan 

      10 years ago

      regardless of whether or not bush was kinder and gentler it is true that we should all be more compassionate towards one another

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      You are more than kind Iðunn. I look forward to further debate.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      10 years ago

      well, with pol, the most enjoyable way is to find people who are interesting rather than those who agree with you necessarily.  I'm glad I stumbled into your Hubs finally, because you make interesting presentations of your side.  I love good debate agreeing or no with a courteous approach.  you're quite the find.  I'm been on a run of luck lately with finding good Hubbers. :D

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

        I like your proverb, Kenny, And thanks for the kind remarks. And thank you,k also, Iðunn, for your endorsement of Kenny's comment.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      10 years ago

      pol remainz a shiny thing to me, almost as irresistable as himself or chocolate.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      10 years ago from Chennai

      *waves* Ah, I meet Iðunn at another of her natural habitats!

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      10 years ago

      kenny, so nicely put. :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      10 years ago from Chennai

      We have a poverb in the Tamil language in India: If the bull leaps eight feet, the calf will leap sixteen. It applies to good things and to bad things like the Bush inheritance.

      But let's take his statement at face value and be kinder and gentler. What you wrote in 1996 is still relevant. More. Thank you, William.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, jormins. I think there was some involvement of the Republican Guard, but I believe the carpet bombing of those troops came later. I think Sr. is embarrassed by the incompetency of Jr., but, of course, won't admit it.

    • jormins profile image

      jormins 

      10 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I was just about to ask who you thought was the worse of the two Sr. or Jr. but you just answered me above already. That is true we "liberated Kuwait" and we were out of there, I don't think we even clashed with the Iraqi Republican Guard in the first war if I remember right.

    • William F. Torpey profile imageAUTHOR

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'd say "like father, like son," except in this case "son" is worse than "father."

      No, MrMarmalade, he didn't. But at least he wasn't stupid enough to go into Baghdad.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      Did he keepny of his promises?

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      10 years ago

      kinder and gentler.  I remember that now.

      I also remember Jr.'s inaugural address the first election he stole when he said he had a plan to help poor Americans by praying for them instead of just making sure they had mere "money" or jobs. 

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