Silver linings can be overrated. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to discover something positive in an otherwise bad situation, but you can find good things in the most unlikely of places. Nope, you’re not going to get me to claim you can make lemonade when life gives you lemons. It’s just not that easy.
If you’ve been around the sun a few times, you’ve seen the world change dramatically, but at the same time, some things will always remain the same.
Remember stepping over gangs of Hare Krishna followers lingering outside grocery stores? These shaved-headed clowns in white flowing robes were specialists in annoying customers in every major city.
They were experts at blocking aisles, and entrances at airports as well. Have you noticed any of them lately?
Odds are they’re still around in some guise or another. I suspect they and their kids and grandkids are now riding the crest of the “woke” idiocy that is trying to remove free speech from American society.
On the other extreme, when was the last time some right-wing hack stopped you at an airport to offer his (it was always a guy…sorry for the inference that there are only two genders, but there are) opinion on some political subject?
They don’t do it anymore, at least not in airports. You’ll still run into those with “agendas” constantly. Whether they’re trying to make you “aware.” (code word for think my way or hit the highway) or are just plain old political grifters trying to buy a little influence.
I remember as a young man flying into National in Washington, D.C., and getting stopped by a clown stepping up to say, “Another proponent of nuclear energy.”
Today I’d just do an aging spin move, or maybe fake left and cut right to avoid him, but as a 20-something I still thought I could change the world.
“Have you ever been to a uranium mine?” I asked him.
He was taken aback, “No, why would I?” he stammered.
“That’s where you get the fuel for nuclear energy,” I informed him
He didn’t want to hear anything about it and stepped around me to stop the next deplaning passenger behind me.
To be clear, I’m a proponent of nuclear fission reactors. Limitless fuel available for almost no cost, with modern technology erasing most of the nasty side effects generated by 1950s technology.
The gang in the JC Penny’s sheets and the guy in the slick, polyester suit don’t bother anyone today, after the events of 9/11. The destruction on that September morning 22 years is a heckuva price to pay for having clear concourses where airports are no longer havens for extremists, but it’s a minuscule silver lining.
On the other extreme, everyone is a potential threat thanks to the “awareness movement. “America, land of paranoia,” should be inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
You can either be part of the solution, part of the problem, or someone afraid of their own shadow that hides in the depths of anonymity.
There are two Americas, the one that steps up to the plate, tries to make the world a better place, and the other that wallows in victimhood, hatred, and despises their fellow man.
I discovered the epitome of this dichotomy on our last trip to the suburbs of Pittsburgh.
On a hilly side street in Markvue Manner, a Westmoreland County neighborhood in the little town of Norwin, you’ll find these two extremes existing just across the narrow two-lane street that separates them.
On Bernice Drive, the Harff Christmas Display drew hundreds of visitors each evening. The people who own the property have created an amazing Christmas display costing tens of thousands of dollars, complete with sequenced sound tied to the blinking displays.
All you have to do is tune your FM radio to 88.7 and you can hear the music and watch the action. We’ve seen it many times over the last decade.
All they request is a voluntary contribution to the Children’s Diabetes Walk. They raise huge sums of money each year in the quest to eliminate Type I diabetes in children.
It is the altruism of the American spirit rolled into nativity scenes, Rudolph, Santa Claus, the Grinch, and a bewildering array of choreographed lights. I don’t know their politics, whether they’re liberal or conservative, and I don’t care.
Across the street, thankfully clothed in abject darkness is the polar opposite.
A Nazi, white supremacist, has festooned his sinister abode with all the vile slogans that now dominate too much of the right-wing fringe. As clueless as the “woke” movement is on the left, the F-bomb-dropping crowd on the right is just as mindless.
A swastika is displayed prominently in a window facing the street, along with various profane anti-Biden slogans and several Trump flags and banners.
I don’t care about the banners and flags, let him think what he wants, but I do take offense to the Nazi symbol and his not-so-subtle signs reading “If you can read this, you’re in range,” and “Step on my lawn and meet god,” emblazed on the outline of an AK-47.
Interesting that he chose a Soviet assault rifle rather than an American AR-15, but he’s obviously not too bright, to begin with.
I’ve got no problem with someone being a conservative or a liberal, I believe in the two-party system brought to us by Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. It is what we are.
I’ve got a big problem when either the left or the right tries to infringe my right to say (or write) what I believe or to vote for the candidate and the cause of my choice. Make no mistake, they’d both shut down the First Amendment in a heartbeat given the chance.
Hate fuels the far right, the hatred of other races, and beliefs. Hate fuels the far left, the hatred of free speech, free expression, and all the tenets of the Bill of Rights.
Sitting neatly between the goalposts of hate are the rest of us.
Only fear keeps us from challenging and eliminating these two extremist movements. Yielding to fear never accomplishes anything except generating more hostility and more control.
Your elected officials won’t do a thing about it, it’s what fuels their respective campaign coffers.
As Ten Bears says to Josey Wales in the western classic, The Outlaw Josey Wales, “It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men.” The Comanche chief and the unrepentant rebel were on to something.
Lyrics from my favorite Eagle’s tune, “Get Over it” also come to mind. “You drag it around like a ball and chain, wallow in the guilt wallow in the pain. Wave it like a flag, wear it like a crown. Got your mind in the gutter bringing everybody down. Complain about the present, blame it on the past. I’d like to find your inner child, and kick its little ass, get over it.”
We can see the two Americas all around us, the one you chose to be a part of says everything about you. Make it your policy to be a part of the solution, avoid those with evil intent, and malice in their heart.
We can still be the land of the free, but not with paranoia as our guide.