In True Believer, Eri Hoffer writes this about cataclysmic times and the wisdom of stepping outside a rising tide.
When conditions are not ripe, the potential leader, no matter how gifted, and his holy cause, no matter how potent, remain without a following… There is a period of waiting in the wings… Harperperennial, 2002, pg.112.)
These are, I fear, cataclysmic times. I sense a growing undertow, a movement to the political left, but like Occupy Wall Street, its leaders remain in shadows. A consensus exists, however. We must work to make the world welcoming for all.
The movement has been growing for decades, if not centuries, though there have been disruptions along the way. In my lifetime, I’ve seen Nazism, Stalinism, McCarthyism (Click) , Bircherism (Click), and the Tea Party, (Click) to name a few. Yet each time the rebound from these constricting forces has been to widen the net of inclusiveness. The crisis we face in government today will produce the same effect.
Nonetheless, I challenge the rising tide of this evolution to do better than the past. Hate has no place in a cause where goals should inspire. Lying is unforgivable at any time but especially when the intent is to paint others as villains. At such times, we build walls that make it difficult for the country to heal. At such times, the enemy is us.
On Facebook, I witness good people spreading falsehoods. The photo which begins this blog is an example. What is its purpose? Are we to see it as evidence that white racism exists? But it isn’t an example of white racism. The sign belongs to a Black Baptist church. (Click) Now that we know the whole truth, is the message changed?
Lately, I’ve seen pictures of caged children posted on my news feed. Presumably, they are victims of Donald Trump’s cruel immigration policies. But our president had nothing to do with those children. The images are from the Obama era. Does the whole truth alter our understanding?
A cause, no matter how noble, is tarnished if the means to accomplish it are tarnished.
I regret I have lived long enough to see us at war with ourselves again. Still, I cling to this ideal: that men and women are equal and entitled to be treated with dignity and fairness, despite a difference of opinion. When we settle for lies, we diminish ourselves and the principles of our country. Democracy dies when truth dies.
(Originally published 6/27/2018)