Keys to destruction: A choice between fears and facts

June, 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonBy Carl Sampson

If I wanted to destroy a nation, I wouldn’t use an army, airstrikes or missiles. I would use lines. I would draw lines between people and constantly remind them how different they are from one another.

I would remind poor people how rich other people are. I would remind Americans of African, Hispanic, Asian and European descent how different they are from each other.

I would remind religious groups how different they are, from one another and from non-believers. I would remind city folks how different they are from rural folks, and vice versa. I would reminder Southerners how different they are from Northerners, Easterners how different they are from Westerners.

By the time I was done, the nation would be sliced and diced in a hundred different ways. No one would identify with anyone beyond their small circle of friends. No one would trust anyone, for fear that they were getting a better deal, in life or from the government.

The government would be seen as the source of almost everything — jobs, money, education. Everything would be courtesy of the largeness of the government and the people in charge. Yes, that’s how you do it. That’s how you destroy a nation. It’s not my idea.

It’s been done before, and I believe it’s being done right here and right now. Politicians are playing one group off against another. The rich, the poor, the black, the white, the Hispanics all are being played for pawns in a high-stakes game of campaign chess. 

Pick a candidate, pick a major party, and you see these cynics invoke the most base of human emotions. Fear, greed, hatred, jealousy — they’re all present as one politician after another tries to convince us that we’re getting a bum deal, and the only way to get a better deal is to vote for them and turn to the government to solve all of our problems.

I reject that premise, and I hope you do, too. I look around the grocery store, or the movie theater or any place people gather, and I see my brothers and sisters. All colors, all shapes, all sizes. Each is a man or woman of good will, beautiful in a unique way. 

Yes, there are a few misguided souls, struggling with inner hurt, or drugs or alcohol. Yes, there are people who insist on “me first” instead of making sure there’s plenty for everyone. We as a nation will thrive when we again embrace one another and work together. 

I’m not naive. I know we as a nation have problems. But we’ll solve them when we all can sit at the table and discuss those problems. We’ll solve them when we can talk about facts and not fears, about seeking a solution instead of winning a contest.

And I really mean work. President John Kennedy did not implore the nation to seek handouts of every kind — a recurring theme of this political season. He said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

You don’t hear that much these days, except from veterans, members of the military and others stuck on the old-fashioned notion that we are the ones who owe our heart and allegiance to a great nation, not the other way around.

Years ago, I remember protesters at the Pentagon urging on their fellow travelers. If everyone went to that building they could lift it up, they were told. I’ve taken a few physics classes in my day, and I believe whoever came up with that idea probably missed a few classes.

But I do know this. I know that if we as Americans — all ethnicities, all backgrounds and all ages — join hands and work together, we can lift this nation up.

Together.

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