Press-Republican

Columns

December 30, 2012

Rediscovering a nation for all

There is not another word that connotes more meanings than hallelujah. Everyone has a different take on it, and they vary with each change of mood and every sensibility.

As I write this, I don’t know how 2012 will end. It may end better than it started, but probably not. I wish I could say hallelujah, it is over, and we can look forward to a better future, but I am not confident about that either.

In my lifetime, I experienced seven different decades. Just a few years before I was born, the USSR launched Sputnik. Its interminable beep beep beep taunted a nation that reaffirmed it had better days ahead. The United States embarked on an age of hope in the 1960s. Hallelujah, all things were possible, and much was attained.

There were many challenges to overcome in that decade, from the technical to the civil and social. The miracle decade was followed by the 1970s when, hallelujah, we as a nation attained and maintained the apex of our economic empire. Our capacity to build, to spend, to educate and to develop caused the former USSR to crumple under our unrelenting weight. By the 1980s, hallelujah, the Cold War was over, and we expected peace dividends to thrust us even higher.

For an instant, we thought we could end disease, strife and hunger in our nation and beyond. But, by the 1980s and 1990s, a certain cynicism began to take hold. We consolidated our gains not by creating a new, transparent, open and productive society that would be the beacon on the hill. Rather, we realized new heights of greed and division. We each became a member of a special interest, with each interest determined to prevail over all others.

As we saw that affluence and superiority fail to bring out the best in us all, a heightened sense of faith emerged, hallelujah. America seemed to have a spiritual awakening. Yet, rather than unite us, it seemed to divide us further.

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