I have a Facebook acquaintance who attempts to pass for a curmudgeon but I have unmasked him. He’s an optimist. He’s like a man standing on the roof of a tall building, threatening suicide, secretly hoping to be rescued. True pessimists sit behind locked doors and quit eating.
Outrage is healthy. Decrying the bad means defending the good and demanding action. I don’t worry about my Facebook curmudgeon. I worry about the rest of us who accept the status quo: that we’ve been sold out by the money changers.
We weren’t always a silent majority. During the Great Depression, the nation recovered because Franklin Delano Roosevelt institutionalized social change. He had the will and the anger to do it and the people got behind him. Today, only one social program has been passed in the Congress, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet, daily, its future hangs in the balance. Daily, it is attacked by its enemies, while our President makes compromises, his campaign mantra changed from “Yes, we can,” to “No we can’t.”
Has the United States become a nation of cynics? Have we locked the door against hope and change? Thomas Frank, editor of Harper’s, fears that we have.
We beheld our powerlessness at the hands of the mighty and we decided that the thing to do was to make Wall Street even stronger. We accepted our powerlessness and then magnified it. (“If Memory Swerves,” by Thomas Frank, Harper’s, pg. 7.)
If he is right, we are a sad reflection of a nation that once rallied to the words: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. (Inaugural Speech of John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961.)
(Courtesy of www.dod.covers.org)