Trying to decipher what’s happening across our country today, we’ve come upon a thought we’d like to share.
Everyday in the press we read, hear and see polls that indicate how frustrated and angry the American public is. More than simply recording whether a voter feels the country is “on the right path,” these respondents again and again express disappointment with their lives. Not simply with the content of those lives, but their conditions. People expected to live in an America where, to be sure, there are problems, but in this country problems are made to be solved. They haven’t been.
This is an empty feeling shared by both black and white citizens. (For the sake of the current discussion, Latinos, Asians and others are put aside largely because they are too busy keeping their heads above water financially, staying in the country physically, and trying at the same time to provide their children with all the good lessons with which they arrived that spoke of America the Beautiful.)
Why this empty feeling? Because one of the pillars of American society is in theory JUSTICE.
And as we’ve seen recently, JUSTICE isn’t even in the game.
JUSTICE is supposed to be objective, blind, equally executed. It has been none of those things for the past forty years.
Where once people wanted to believe in their governments, it has been shown that this is no longer, if it ever was, possible. People wanted to believe that police really did want to protect and serve. People did want to have confidence that if a wrong were committed, it would in time be righted by these same forces of justice. Then we got to DNA evidence.
With this new diagnostic tool, we learned that dozens, hundreds, thousands of accused men and women were being shoveled under a rug for the sake of convictions in theory based on DNA evidence until we discovered that this same DNA evidence could be lost, mis-interpreted, or found inadmissible in court. We also learned, by watching, the forces of JUSTICE climbing ladders of influence within police departments, within state legislatures, within national arenas. More, we also watched as these same miscreants raked in a lot of money as they engineered innocent men and women to jail. Worse even than this was the directing of punitive measures by “out-sourcing” not only penitentiaries but also by prosecutors.
In time, white and black citizens alike came to view the entire justice system of the nation as corrupt.
But something good has come to us unexpectedly from misery.
The extended discussion of race relations following a year of police over-reaction and black
taunting will, we believe, turn out to be hugely healthy for the nation at large.
The biggest question on the horizon in terms of justice is how do we work our way back to the once-revered protection and service, the sense that the police will help not hinder justice, that the police are here to maintain order and fairness for all?
What citizens complain of now is that the American Dream, whatever it is to each of us, no longer is worth what it was. It’s more than income inequality. Instead, it’s that life is cheaper, deaths are pointless, fairness has disappeared, the very pillars of our adored Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are being found faulty.
We are, in a few words, disappointed in our country. And that disappointment colors everything we do.
We’re disappointed that we cannot seem to win a war, good or bad. We’re disappointed by the C.I.A., but we’re also disappointed by Congress which is so disconnected to the real needs of the people; by the Joint Chiefs (who managed to get away with lying to Congress) not to mention with the president.
We are disappointed that justice is not even handed. We are disappointed that our children are so far down on international study comparisons, let along the ability to study and train for a job. We’re disappointed that jobs are unavailable for our kids who cannot leave home to begin their independent lives. We’re disappointed about the cost of living, what rents cost across the country. It’s grand that gas costs less, but that savings is nothing compared with electrical rates being juiced up.
We’re disappointed in neighbors and in our neighborhoods. But perhaps more serious is the fact that we as individuals don’t seem to trust our friends, our family members, the police, our bosses, our doctors, our research labs, our lawgivers, our lawyers, and maybe even by the fact that we as a nation seem destined in the future to be bypassed by China in a number of endeavors.
We’re disappointed in our disappointments. Nothing seems stable or rock solid about the nation now. Events happen with such rapidity that we can’t even begin to get a grip on what they mean for each of us.
Disappointment makes itself known in poll after poll in which respondents report the country is on the wrong path. Disappointment makes itself visible in riots in the streets at the least excuse. People no longer march for civil rights or freedom or for any number of good causes but hope instead for a moment to be able to loot neighborhood stores.
Gaming the rules is a national pastime.
In the face of all this, what can we expect of the Christmas season? Or the coming New Year?
2014 has been miserable for so many.
Few have the heart even to look forward.