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"We must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics. We must focus on a few core truths: that we are all human, we are all Americans, and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive. We must find ways to re-engage across the divide by standing up collectively to the forces dividing us. Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late."
President Jimmy Carter, New York Times, January 2022
"I think now more than ever, it is up to us as free thinkers, as thoughtful people, to look out for each other. It is up to us to embrace love and not fear. As we make our way back out into the world again, we have the power to reform it."
James Haggerty, The East Nashvillian, March 2022
Mental health struggles, burnout, isolation from community, feeling a loss of control over one's own life. These are the things that we have all had to deal with since the chaos of the pandemic descended upon us. For me, the warning signs started popping up in the 11th month of 2016.
The forced downtime during the pandemic provided time to reflect on our values and where we wanted to be in our lives. The pandemic has been a wake-up call regarding career vs. family and community. We asked ourselves some essential questions from behind our masks. Who am I? Where am I going? What the hell is going on?! In short, the plague jammed a stick in the spokes of our collective bike and sent us careening through space, hoping to come out with just a few scrapes vs. a painful, senseless death. It kicked our collective ass off the hamster wheel. Staring down the barrel of an invisible virus and one's fragile mortality can shake things up, n'est-ce pas?
In my research for this column, I learned a new phrase: "The Great Resignation" or, more bluntly, hold on a minute, fuck the man! In the words of David Allan Coe, as sung by Johnny Paycheck, "Take this job and shove it. I ain't workin' here no more." Folks realized that life is short, and slaving away for little reward and two weeks off a year to relax as the shareholders chuckle from their yachts while mouse clicking offshore accounts is not a happy,
Let's heed Jimmy Carter's words, "We must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics."
I couldn't agree more. If we could magically abolish 24-hour news outlets, both left and right, I suspect we would be in a much better place as a society. We no longer agree to disagree or set aside differences for the good of the whole. Instead, our politics have become like football, only with knives. The goal is not just to beat but, more importantly, destroy the opponent so they can never play (govern) again.
We are all human, we are all Americans, and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive.
I'm not sure if the dude with the Viking horns, flag outfit, and myself can find common ground, but I hope this is true for most of us. Given a choice, I believe most people would choose peace, harmony, and goodwill over civil war and the unraveling of society.
We must find ways to re-engage across the divide, respectfully and constructively… by standing up collectively to the forces dividing us… Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.
I must admit that my vitriol for Donald Trump and many of those who voted for him, marched and stormed the capital for him, were appointed to the Supreme Court by him, and continue to profit politically from his hate-mongering will be a bitter pill to swallow. Still, I would love the opportunity to do it.
I would love for all of us to work together to improve the lives of all Americans. I would love to be a part of that movement. It sure would be wonderful if our rallying cry became "We hold these truths to be self-evident" and then worked together to make that beautiful idea a reality. Instead of have vs. have not, how about simply, the haves?
Sign me up. Count me in. Equality, accept no substitute. Act now.
Hags is a bass player, bread maker, and regular contributor to The East Nashvillian.
Although his opinions are his own, we mostly agree with him.