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
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.