Thursday, March 15, 2018

Oh to be young again…

And not for the reasons you are probably thinking. Sure it would be nice to be thinner, have no body aches and pains, not need glasses, have no gray hair. But today I want to be young for a different reason.

I want to be one of the multitudes of young people peacefully demonstrating for gun control. I want to have the moxy, the energy, the foresight, the idealism to believe people working together can change the world.

I don’t want to be cynical and jaded. I don’t want to be coerced by money, anything else or anyone. I don’t want to step away when faced with roadblocks. I don’t want to shrug my shoulders, sigh and believe change is impossible because the NRA (or any group or individual) owns our politicians.

I want to be young again, idealistic and optimistic, believing people are fundamentally good. I still believe these things, but my optimism is tempered by a knowledge of history, my observations of people over decades, and the ascent of the current President.

The past couple of years my opinion that, when faced with the facts and a choice, most people will make an educated, thoughtful decision, has shattered. People who do not want to believe certain facts will deny their truth, ignore the facts, concoct fake news to counter what they refuse to consider, and actively work to turn challengers into enemies.

The change from friendly competitors to ruthless rivals in recent history occurred over a period of years. The transition began in the 1990s with two events - the elevation of Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House and his Contract with America Congressional cohorts, and the rise of talking heads like Rush Limbaugh.

Today social media spreads communications instantly. Media corporations push biased news. Examples - Fox News and more recently the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Not only media companies and personalities influence public opinion. Individuals, companies and organizations, such as the NRA and the Koch brothers, pour billions into marketing campaigns and the coffers of politicians.

The trend gives rise to the question: Where does that leave the average citizen?

At a huge disadvantage.

The ‘other side’ contributes funds, forms organizations, influences politicians, but their effectiveness has been overshadowed by the right wing over the past couple of decades. Perhaps the pendulum is ready to shift center.

Watching young people around the country unite over an issue, single-minded in their effort to get results, offers hope their persistence and inspiration can overcome the power of the dollar. And fake news and the media.

Change is in the air.

People influencing political action in a short time period is an awesome event to witness. Florida’s gun control bill is a limited but encouraging step. Hopefully more headway will be made soon. Other countries have done it. It’s about time the U.S. adopts common sense gun control legislation.

Leave it to the young folks to take the lead.

There are risks and costs to a program of action. 
But they are far less than the long-range risks 
and costs of comfortable inaction. 
— John F. Kennedy