Violence is a sign of it.
A few days ago I read of a physician in Dana Point, California, struck from behind by a car while he was riding his bike, then stabbed in the back and shot several times. He died from his injuries. He was 58 and practicing emergency medicine in the area. No ties between the killer and the victim have been established.
That same day I read of a whole family, including children, being killed by gang members in Central California. The same article spoke of the existence of over 30 thousand gangs in the nation.
In Miami, a man was convicted of manslaughter for hitting another who fell back and injured his brain, later dying. The conflict had started over a traffic dispute. The SUV where the assailant was travelling blocked the way of the other vehicle at an intersection. The other driver got out to complain. Words were said, then the man found guilty of manslaughter stepped out of the SUV and struck the complainant. He was sentenced to 5 years.
The less the restraint the more the societal impoverishment.
At the national level, Mr Trump is a known factor in the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6th, 2021. He, too, is a sign of impoverishment. National impoverishment.
And yet he’s announced his candidacy for president. Some people have even donated to the campaign.
At the international level, Putin chooses to attack Ukraine and is now guilty of the murder of thousands of Ukrainians and thousands of Russians. A sign of impoverishment on a grand scale. Russia, for all its riches, is presently a poor nation.
Here in America, we must be careful not to become one, for we keep killing each other. At a mall, at a dance hall, at a subway station, a school, on the street, anywhere.
Not being able to resolve our differences is a sign of societal impoverishment.
Opposing sides have chosen to give up on dialogue. Chosen to devalue the importance of it.
A nation filled with the talent to devise highly sophisticated technology, to make enormous advances in the world of genetics, artificial intelligence, space travel, medicine, transportation, automation, has not found a way to improve conflict resolution between human beings.
We have not found a way to square with our emotional world and acknowledge that, not being able to dialogue is a sign of impoverishment. Emotional and cultural.
We bleed because of it.
And, it seems, we haven’t bled enough. Because we have yet to face the insanity of not having the courage to sit down and talk to each other.
We urgently need leaders who have this courage.
Men and women who are not afraid to speak to their constituencies.
Men and women in positions of leadership who can look their supporters in the eye and say to them, ‘Compromise is hard work but it must be done. Without it we will not go forward. If you disagree with me and don’t want to vote for me next time, so be it. But that’s what I will try hard to do. Sit down with the opposition and find common ground.
At times we will want to vent our emotions – have our catharsis – but without emotional control, without continence, without respect for the other side, no matter how flawed we think they may be, we cannot move forward. A balance is needed between the two. We’re missing that balance. We talk about compromise but we want the other side to do most of it. It will not work that way.’
That is the kind of leadership we need. Men and women willing to risk the support of their constituents to find common ground. Leaders who can educate us.
Those leaders do exist. They live in our midst.
During the Depression in the 1930s, our nation went through very hard times. And a leader emerged to guide us through it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt did so. We went on to overcome the Depression and then lead the Free World in the fight against Fascism in WWII.
Nations respond to leaders who have a deep commitment to all its citizens, not just a special group.
Leaders who are not beholden to their constituencies but who dare do what needs to be done in the interest of the nation.
We need them urgently.
Violence and Impoverishment
Violence is a sign of it.