Saturday, January 28, 2017

I think that one of the reasons that the country is so divided is that we are losing touch with how to talk with each other.

Face to face communications is disappearing, and as society focuses more on social media interaction, it becomes easier to think of the opposition as faceless evil. It is no longer reasonable people with differing opinions of how to make the world better.

The lack of face to face discussions turns our disputes into something similar to road rage. We hate that car, that tweeter, that abortionist, that tree hugger.

The world has changed so fast in the last hundred years, that different generations have almost nothing in common. When my mother was born in 1914, automobiles and airplanes were in their infancy. When I was born, the impact of the Great Depression was still very fresh, and we were in a world war that caused damage that we can hardly imagine. When my daughters were born, there was no real internet as we know it, no one had cell phones and a computer was a curiosity for the general public: something to play games like Pong.

Now, our children and grandchildren grow up in world where high technology has overtaken our culture. People no longer write letters or know their neighbors. Everything is organized, from children’s activities to how much soda we can be served. Many in our nation have retreated back into social media for our interactions.

All this change leaves many without the ability to hold actual conversations. They hide in their facebook accounts where they let their anger and frustrations build and explode.

Older generations often feel left out of the “discussions”. They sit at home with no jobs, no input into the new society and no hope for a future. Their savings accounts have been destroyed by the “zero interest” economy, they are ridiculed for being clueless about high tech, and their culture is assaulted on all sides.

The country sits astride all these generational disputes with leadership that seems clueless to the issues that many face. We were supposedly “surprised” that people who had been told to shut up suddenly registered their frustrations in one of the few ways still left to them. We made it difficult for them to talk about issues but they finally let loose at the polls. And now, suddenly the dam has burst, and everyone is yelling in the press, on the internet and in person. And they are all screaming at the same time. But we still aren’t really talking with each other.

We need a better understanding of history and civics in our society. We need a better understanding of each other. Part of that is a better recognition of the massive changes that our society has undergone. We have citizens from many generations who have been left behind in this new world. The damage has been economical, physical, emotional and structural.

I recently wrote a poem “The Skywriter” that deals with the economical and emotional impacts of being left behind. It is about America, and our own “hundred years war”.
Let us all hope we can find peace with each other in 2017.

Glenn K. Currie

The Skywriter
Copyright 2017 Glenn K. Currie

He climbed slowly into the weathered biplane,
Whispering to it in the late afternoon cold.
The engine coughed a tired greeting
Before it settled into a rhythmic beat
And carried him high into the azure sky.

The pilot had spent his life writing on the heavens,
His brush the noisy antique in which he rode.
For decades, he captured the eyes of curious millions
Excited to decipher his unfolding works
Before they disappeared forever into the ether.

He no longer painted the sky.
The audience had moved to other canvases.
Clouds were now captured in boxes,
Where words hid in their own vapor trails,
And no one needed blue sky or sunshine.

Instead he circled beneath unseen stars,
Searching, in the fading light, for a place
Where messages still floated in bottles,
Dreamers colored the world in chalk,
And words were still written on the wind.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It is not an easy world in which to be your own person: to avoid the brain-washing of the media, and the false choices provided by the “true believers” of the left and right.

Unfortunately, many in our society have ordained that everyone must think alike. We see this at our universities and among the clustered masses that gather to demand that you agree with them or remain silent when sensitive issues are brought before the public. Political correctness leaves no room for different points of view, or intelligent discussion regarding ethics or morals. This, in turn, results in bottled up emotions that only finally surface in “surprise” events like the recent election.

We have become a nation with too much time on its hands and not enough perspective to know how to use it. Instead, many in our population create imagined slights, or overreact to affronts and disputes, resulting in a steady stream of angry confrontations that split society and cause us to feel like a nation coming apart.

The saddest  part about all of this is that too many of our young people are totally unprepared to deal with the “group think” movements. Their lack of historical knowledge leads to little understanding that our nation was built on compromise and evolution, not the absolutes that too many now try to cram down our throats.

Too many have been processed through a shoddy educational system, and have been raised in an environment where they have been told they are smarter than they are. They have not been confronted with anyone questioning their brilliance and never learned to actually do their own due diligence on issues.

I wonder how many of the children born in this century will even know how much they don’t know. We don’t teach them history or civics or geography. For the most part, they are no longer exposed to philosophy, or the great books. Debate and active discussion of sensitive issues is discouraged in most institutions of “higher” learning.

The sad result is we are not preparing people to lead. Who are the future inspirational guides for our country? Certainly they aren’t the ethically-challenged celebrities or sports figures who think that achieving one skill makes them an expert on everything. Most of these folks are like the action figures that promote them. They are images, not reality. Most are less informed on real life in America than the average shopkeeper or garbage collector. And I have not seen many true statesmen/women evolving out of the meat grinder of our current political structure.

We are being carried away in a sea of platitudes and hyperbole, and no one is standing up and talking about it. We are dying as a nation because we no longer know what we are. We are a people that is being taught to believe in nothing. And if we don’t wake up soon, that is what we will become.

I wrote a poem a while ago that asked its readers to have the courage to use their common sense and strength of character to hold fast against panic and crowd frenzy when those with an agenda try to force us to rush to judgement.

I wonder how many still have that strength. We will learn much about ourselves in 2017. Many have already drawn the battle lines. There are many things that need to be fixed in our country. No one has all the answers. I pray that we are smart enough as a nation to demand that our leaders sit down together and work on solutions, rather than playing the petty games of stonewalling and obfuscation.

Am I a Man” is from Daydreams (Snap Screen Press, 2004). I hope they are words you all will consider as we move into this new year.

Glenn K. Currie

                     Am I a Man/Woman

I am a man, I am a man,
A man I am, if only I can,
If only I can, take a stand,
If I can stand, and raise my hand.

When honor calls, calls me to stay,
While others called, are fading away,
I hope that day, I can display,
The strength within, to find my way.

When I see crowds, in panic fly,
And in that panic, the truth deny,
Trampling in hate, those who defy,
The panicked flight to invented lie.

Then I’ll find if I am a man,
If against that crowd I can then stand,
Can I stand and raise my hand? Stop
From saying, “I’m only a man”.