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October 12, 2010

Mean Nation?

Roy Meachum

Last week’s column, “Anger Divides These United States,” dealt with the political arena. From my aged perception, a considerable portion of the electorate faces November voting blinded because of unreasoning anger.


Politics, of course, grow out of the body politic, defined in the Oxford dictionaries as “the people of a nation, state, or country considered collectively as a body of organized citizens.” And, as a body, America spews forth stories that confirm a vicious mentality is not limited to the disputations on government, national, state or local.


In recent days, the daily news has reported:


*Tennessee firefighters watching a home burn down, killing several pets and destroying a family’s furniture and personal possessions; the town’s mayor excused the criminal negligence by explaining the household did not pay a $75 fire fee. It was discovered later the fee was paid.


*New York City officials are deeply concerned – they should be – because a gang beat, tortured and sodomized two teens and a young man because the criminals accused the three of being homosexuals.


*A school system in suburban Cleveland faces law suits by families of two students who committed suicide; the legal actions allege their teen-age children were bullied to death as a result of a high school doing little after being petitioned several times.


Repeat: those three stories were printed in a single week.


Americans’ callow indifference to their fellow humans’ suffering did not start last Tuesday. In the 20th century’s last quarter, Kitty Genovese was raped and beaten to death walking home; it was later discovered neighbors heard her screams and did nothing. Reports say 27 people heard her pleas and did nothing, not even calling police. Numerous stories say her neighbors represented a fraction of this country.


Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man hardly rates as news. However, this land is supposedly governed according to lights shed by the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, which shaped a community supposedly based on the Bible’s “men of good will.” Other books holy to their religions inculcate the principle, in their differing words.


Tennessee, Ohio and New York represent a large chunk of America’s population; it does no good to argue these were individuals, society as a whole was not involved. But we are.


Unreasoning anger has become the equivalent of Middle Ages’ bubonic plaque or my hometown New Orleans’ fever epidemics; even those walking around must be infected. There is simply no way to avoid exposure. Hate is the sub-text in our daily news; every medium, electronic or published. There’s no way to avoid it.


The mid-term elections have been noisily bruited about, especially because of the Tea Party’s declarations. The group takes its spirit from the 1976 movie “Network.” The character played by British actor Peter Finch declares, “I’m mad as hell…and I’m not going to take this anymore.”


Voters intensely teed-off may change the entire face of the government; that happened two years ago. The man once considered a Messiah for all our national problems didn’t pan out for many people; they want another change.


Meanwhile, the three stories last week illustrate the troubles are deeper than governments’ acts. These United States need a revolution of tranquility and peace; we must return to our roots as a Christian/Hebraic nation. The overwhelmingly majority of Muslims say and mean: Salaam aleichem. They wish peace for anyone. All religions preach the same.


But in every corner, not simply Tennessee, Ohio and New York, these United States are troubled, fretful and filled with fear.


This is no way I want to leave my nation; my coming birthday clinches that my days are numbered.


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