Our American Fire Storm

I can hear and smell the flames daily in the political climate that has become the basis of casting blame for what seems to be the second of two civil wars in our nation.

The embers of hot, glowing coals of politics are all around us these days, and a tremendous adrenalin rush for many comes from throwing the gasoline of self-righteous indignation onto those embers. The results are explosions of varying levels of terror and hate mongering. Vindication seems no longer to come from bridled and reasonable discussion but rather from name-calling and pre-packaged insults that we as a nation seem more and more to see as strengths, instead of the weaknesses they really are. We have forgotten the psychological truth that greater weakness lies within the bully, not the bullied. Every tenet we once honored from profound and timeless messages like the ones from Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. have been sacrificed upon the altar of power, money and simply “winning.”

We have stereotyped the once meaningful ideals of the Republican and Democratic political parties to the point at which neither is any longer recognizable. We have only to use one of those two labels in order to stir up anyone who uses the opposing word. Of course, both parties have always been opponents, as should be expected in a democracy, but it seems that opposition used to be more of a yin/yang relationship that somehow, even with some rancor, achieved things for the good of the country as a whole, not just as in some child’s game, where one side wins and the other side loses.

I have a deep desire (call it nostalgia if you must) to see people of both political realms actually listening to each other once in a while and seeing a wider view that goes beyond mere political points. Money and power have always been impediments to mass progress but are not the only difficulties.

It’s almost as though we have, as a country, divided ourselves in a way that has perhaps been building up slowly since 1865, so that we are almost two nations at war once again. Daily I see people who are otherwise loving parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, and citizens throwing gasoline on those embers of political mistrust and discontent, as the flames grow even greater on television (which rather than always informing us, divides us still further) through “information” empires like Fox News and MSNBC (the two extremes that provide more emotional gasoline than OPEC ever did).

Though the adrenalin rush of indignation may feel good temporarily, it doesn’t seem to be helping our wonderful nation achieve again the oneness upon which we were once founded. We seem to have forgotten the word, “United” in our very name.

So the next time the temptation arises to toss a cup of gasoline upon a political ember, think about what it might impede or even destroy, more than the temporary adrenalin rush it may give to self-esteem. Have your say without resorting to cheap insults, and above all, listen without insisting that the result be achieving more game points for your own ego.   JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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2 Responses to Our American Fire Storm

  1. Mark Teran says:

    It is election time in Mexico – as the US goes – so does Mexico. Good or bad.

    In 1993 – Nafta was passed and the US gave a country , struggling with the history of a corrupt government and therefore, corrupt business pratice since the Spaniards arrived in 1520 , a new lease on life by sharing lessons of Capitalism. The perfect example , from the 1st example of Capitalism. Mexico has changed so much in 25 years , by the opening of a business relationship between the two countries that few might recognize thier country when returning if deported for immigration status. Many illegals don’t return to Mexico for 50 years.

    The bad news – is that politics in Mexico have also followed the lead of the US – same $2,500 USD suits on the politicians and the same poor, corrupted and immature coverage of anything of importance by the media

    Lincoln said it : “Politics are Politics”

  2. John says:

    Thanks for your response, Mark, but I’m not sure why you wrote a tirade and am still trying to connect it to my purpose in expressing what I intended to express. My intent was to provide a reminder about our current political strife and the rigid forms it has taken to divide us as a nation.

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