A Year Hence, We Decide the Fate of the World Again

It may not seem so at times, but the U.S. still commands more of global mindshare than any other nation. What we say and do influences people of all nations in ways meritorious, deleterious, inspirational and inflammatory. The world hangs on every vote in every community in every state of our nation for news of what they hope or fear the outcome to be on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November on even years.

At stake are things as momentous as shooting wars, the global economy, the progress of developing nations, the fates of persecuted peoples, the fate of refugees, technological and educational watersheds, race relations, the planet's habitability and on and on. We have the most and give the most, inspire both love and hate the most, but what is increasingly at stake in this coming election season is whether or not our unlikely adventure in democracy will yet survive in a world whose history is almost exclusively a tale of iron fisted autocratic rule.

The entire world has invested their hope in the precarious adherence to principles of freedom and justice of a population and their heirs that declared, against all convention, that the security of their rights and welfare were a governing principle themselves and in total. We bear this responsibility to the world: we must make this work because if we fail, the dark of past ages will overcome and extinguish the light of self determination evermore.

We must make this work for ourselves and for a future in which the world may forget that it was ever tried. It is incumbent on us, for the sake of our progeny, to make ourselves impossible to forget. We must make ourselves remembered for our wisdoms as opposed to our excesses, our candor as opposed to our mendacity, our grace as opposed to our venality, our civility as opposed to our rancor.

We are currently engaged in a futile political struggle between the haves and have nots that better typifies the pre-democratic, pre-American eras than it does what should be our present. We should have, after the calamitous wars of the last century over socioeconomic systems, understood that neither of socialism nor capitalism is just or fair on its own. We should know that a civilized society does not countenance either a yawning income gap nor seizures of private property.

We should know that the rational self-interest of one of us may not be in the best interest of all of us, and that like any tyrant, a solitary self interest that does harm should be subdued by those who are harmed by it. We should know that we should be informed more by facts than we are by fears. We should know that science and religion are driven by the same motives, to know the wonders of the tiny island in an infinite universe that we inhabit. We should know that the interests of the greedy do not coexist comfortably with those of the wanting or even the satisfied.

In fact we know all of this but insist on acting as if no other time in which these things were argued or solved or not has ever existed. We somehow think we are unique, in time, in our battle lines over guns and race and taxes and religion and education and everything, and we are not. We are just rehashing the same old crap that has bedeviled mankind since history began.

Yet into our hapless hands falls the fate of the world. Maybe we should take the next year or so to think about our politics in the perspective of how much is expected of us, how many rely on us, and how we can cut through the partisan crap that distracts us from making this a better world for all, rich and poor.

To such responsibility we should bring the best of ourselves and most critical thinking. We few fortunate to be born to the legacy of the U.S. should show what responsible men can achieve when working together for the common good. This rather than quibble over the private business of women's bodies, the fortunes of the fortunate or the vicissitudes of the few.

I have been very ill this last year. I have been near death several times. During that time I feared nothing more than I feared the philosophical failure of our democratic republic. I never lost faith that a democratic form of government will inherit the Earth, but I just don't want it to take another thousand years. To that end, I survived and will be writing again with some small hope that it will make a difference.