Discovering America

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Mary Anne Zak

Mary Anne Zak

“Something is amiss in our nation,” Jim Calhoun said. “You can feel it everywhere.” The coach was quoted by the Courant following the killings in Las Vegas.

Writing on Columbus Day in 2017, we are searching for what is amiss. In 21st Century America, Second Decade, we probe uncharted and uneasy territory. From the masthead, the cry of “Land, ho!” is not jubilant.

Unease has been spreading long before and since Las Vegas. In the nation floods, fire, and devastation appeared before us almost as soon and as often as they occurred. Worldwide violence, homelessness, disease, starvation, famine, earthquakes, eruptions and landslides have affected us. We have repeatedly seen great suffering to a point where many people no longer watch information or disaster videos.

Seeing the nation’s president in action daily has deepened unease. Personal, partisan politics surely is accountable.

But far beyond partisan politics is American spirit. We call it patriotism. It is so personal and profound a part of us that we seldom talk about it.

Does that mean we don’t understand or acknowledge patriotism? Do we take it for granted? How do we describe it? Is it different yet the same in every one of us?

Patriotism seems far more powerful than partisanship.

It is far less vocal and visible, however. Is patriotism usually out of sight and out of mind? Are we aware of its force in our lives? Do we turn aside from patriotism until our civil environment seems out of balance?

Among many structures and traditions, our civil environment comprises the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Is any one of those off balance? Does the current presidency or executive branch seem off balance?

Americanism, patriotism has moved thousands of Americans to die respecting truth, decency and justice. Does our present presidency respect truth and decency? Does its name calling and threats of war, horror and destruction bring shame?

 Paired with facial and body language, does the verbal language of the presidency abuse the nation and the world as tragically as parents’ or caregivers’ abusive messages damage children?

These questions disturb in a disturbing time. Linguistically they should reference president rather than presidency. But doing so seems disrespectful of the Constitution and could be taken amiss.

Meanwhile, we recall that the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is that enough good men (people) do nothing. The nation appears to have enough good people doing something.

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