I’ve read a lot of hand-wringing statements over the years about ‘What’s Wrong with this Nation.’ I agree with some, and many are blown way out of proportion. Many are essentially the same kinds of generational worries that have stressed out humans for millenia (“Kids these days ain’t got no upbringin’ at all,” Dad used to joke).
We tend to have selective memories about the “good old days,” waxing nostalgic about ‘simpler’ times because the bad stuff didn’t apply to us. Or, like childbirth, we survived the excruciating parts but got a wriggly, living bundle of joy with happiness that completely overwhelms the memory of experienced pain.
That said, I’ll throw in my own “What’s Wrong with this Nation” statement: We have experienced too few admirable leaders in recent years. Servant leaders, with great strength in their ability to listen, respond, and lead. Not roll over under the auspices of negotiation, but able to compromise effectively. Able to apologize and grow from occasional mistakes. Able to take an uncompromising, unapologetic stand when needed, but porous and humble enough to adjust policies to encompass broader perspectives wherever possible.
The stalemating and strong arm tactics between Congress and President Obama have made his many compromises to accommodate his political enemies look weak, though he is still loudly blamed for executive overreach. Our media-frenzy- and dirty-money-fueled two-party system has every politician screaming bloody murder and pointing fingers at the other side, with no tact or rightful respect for elective offices.
If you trust one pundit or politician, and they’re spewing carefully tailored, angry political rhetoric, they strike fear and hatred in your heart. You care about this nation, yet they are manipulating that care for financial and political gain and making us all miserable.
It’s no way to live.
Enter Donald Trump. Because there are so few commendable leaders, not only in politics but our daily lives, his hate speech sounds like strength. He sounds like a guy who could go to Capitol Hill with guns blazing to force needed change.
Such war language, especially that which denigrates and raises suspicions toward other Americans, does not bring healing to a hurting nation. Hate does not create peace and prosperity. It’s all bluster and no substance, and it is damaging us.
America is more populated and diverse than ever before. We need a leader who will consider the whole and knit us together with words of unity, not disparagement. Not one who gets attention by saying the most extreme, shocking statements that bully the underrepresented.
Politics is a mess, and one leader isn’t going to fix our nation. But electing a person of grace, inclusion, and strength in leadership is a necessary start.
Check your own internal responses to the things you see and hear. Do you find yourself saying, “Yeah!” out of a sense of inspiration and optimism for the future, or out of fear and anger that some group of people that aren’t “The Real America” might be threatening how you envision our shared country?
We used to have 30 minute sitcom-length attention spans. Now 15 second Instagram videos or Vines seem long. We need to take more time for introspection and reflection.
There can be no political savior, but there can be a great leader. A leader will strive to serve everyone on this soil. I’m going to attune my ears to healing language this electoral cycle, and pay close attention to the red flags of language that inspires or doubles down on division.
The healing of America must come from within each of us. We can help lead our country to new greatness by taking captive the thoughts that separate us. We are accountable for our own attitudes and how we feed them, and we must give leadership positions to those who foster growth and feed our best potential, not our worst.