Sunday, July 4, 2010

Taking Stock

The Fourth of July is a good time to take stock. I try to use it to ask myself "How are we doing?" Not that I don't ask that question at lots of other times, but I think Americans have been doing that on 7/4 for a long, long time. And this is the 234th iteration of the original.

How are we doing? Not so good, I'd say. We have an economy in tatters and an executive and legislature that don't seem to know what to do about it. We are probably more divided and polarized as a people than we have been since the 1860s. I keep looking for signs that our CEO really loves the outfit he heads up and don't see them. Confidence in, and respect for, our Congress is at a low ebb, beaten out maybe (but just barely) by how we feel about the press. I won't even venture into how we feel about the Groves of Academe.

Dark times for the nation. Republics are often posited to have a life-span of about two hundred years. If that's true then we're already on borrowed time and have been for quite a while.

I'm not sure about this, but I think it was Mark Twain who coined the word "pessimoptimist" to describe how he looked at the world. Seems to me there is hardly a better way to go through life: Hoping and working for the best, but keeping an eye on what happens in the real world most of the time.

I keep telling myself that we'll get through this. We've done it before. We can do it again. But I can't help but wonder, and fear. And I don't think I'm alone.

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