The other day I heard two people talking about the differences we see in the Federal Government when we compare the present administration to past administrations. I’m not going to speak of those differences, each of us can evaluate them on our own, but I do want to say something about the conversation they were having.
The gist of that conversation was that we, as a country, are facing times and challenges that have never existed before and so reactions to those times and challenges will not be, cannot be, and should not be similar to responses that our government has demonstrated in the past.
There are two problems with this attitude that suggest themselves immediately. The first is that anyone who has even a passing familiarity with history can easily pick out times and challenges that make our country’s present day problems seem like Disneyland (well, maybe not Disneyland, but pretty tame in comparison). And think about this: every time a country faces hard times, those times are almost always cast as the toughest times of all, partly because it’s good politics, partly because such propaganda can be convincing, and very rarely because it is actually true.
The second problem is more philosophical. And, I guess “righteous.” It seems to me that whenever we fact times that seem like they are the worst (Watergate, assassinations, Korea) or what turn out to be the worst times “for real” (War of 1812, Civil War, Viet Nam, 911), those are the times when we must even more energetically stand up for right, do the right thing, the right way regardless of the momentary conditions that may suggest other behavior is best.
It is in times of complication, distress, danger, confusion, that we need people, our leaders and more importantly ourselves, to perform better than normal and not hide beneath a “camouflage of complication” and use it as a license to behave poorly and point to the difficulty of the times as an excuse.
Strangely enough, both the people whose conversation I overheard agreed that it is our fault when these sorts of opportunists, for whatever face-saving reasons, are elected to office because we neglected to discover who they really were or hoped they would change when experiencing the honor of the office. And both of them agreed that once we see them in action only the very worst of us continue to ride that bandwagon because “she may be slime, but she is our slime.”
I would have mentioned to them that we can easily “fix” what we have done whenever we find we have made a mistake – it’s up to us. But, I’m sure they both knew that already.