Bush Advice: Let's Be Kinder, Gentler
The 'Education' President?
Rodney King Speaks Out
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.