COMMENTARY: Leadership affects our future

Someone recently asked me, “(W)hy so gloomy? The US has survived civil wars, Great Depression, assassinations and wars up the wahzoo, this too shall pass.” And I say, “If it were only so.”

America has endured and persevered through times and challenges that have stirred the conscience and the character of our nation. We have withstood the slaughter and the carnage of discontent and disillusionment within our borders. We have been victorious in innumerable exploits and misadventures across the globe, and suffered miscalculations and missteps along the way.

The difference today is that we no longer have the guidance and leadership that in the past uplifted and rallied a nation from the throes of despair, chaos and turmoil. Instead, it is our very leadership and governance that is tearing apart the heart and soul of the very nation that once exemplified the last best hope of our humanity.

It is the decline of our morality and our character as a nation that I see happening each day at hatefilled rallies, in demeaning and depreciating tweets, and in selfserving speeches and oratory in the halls of our Congress, that makes me believe that unlike other times, “this too may just not pass.” It is the enemy within that may in the end define the epilogue of our nation. It may just be self-aggrandizement and greed that will defeat and stop the beating heart of a nation that once defied the course of history and of destiny. It is the inclination of moving backward and not forward that alarms me. It is the willingness of many to ignore the lessons of our past and embrace the worst of our times and the cruelest of our traits — intolerance, prejudice, bigotry and hate — that dismays me. But most of all, it is the naturalness of the hate, the lies and the deceit that most frightens me, and the acceptance of this new normalcy that appalls me. These are dark and ominous days for a nation lost in the shadows of its past and the glare of distorted truths and deceptive actualities. These are the times of sinister conspiracies and conspirators, and of fanatical fringe home-grown factions right out of a 1950s Red Menace propaganda film, trying to openly and explicitly subvert and destabilize the very bedrock of our way of life and our institutions

in every way and by whatever means. The aim is simple. Nothing less than the willful subversion and final overthrow of all that is most sacred to our society — our democratic form of government, and the checks and balances that have kept alive the beating heart of freedom and of liberty.

So, when I’m asked, “Why so gloomy?” or told, “Don’t worry, we’ve survived civil wars, (the) Great Depression, assassinations and wars up the wahzoo,” or my concerns dismissed with “this too shall pass,” I simply say that I cannot accept these platitudes of acquiescence and compliance. For this time, the enemy is us — our very leaders and their factions of disgruntled and disillusioned Americans — ordinary people tired of sharing their portion of the American pie or the American dream, and exhausted with having to hide their hate, their bigotry and their prejudices. Our own leaders have thrown open the gates to our citadel of freedom and of hope, by allowing the denigration of truth and the abandonment of an ideal and an idea etched on parchment, and signed with the blood, sweat and tears of dreamers and idealists who believed in themselves, and who visualized a nation of patriots and heroes.

And for centuries we were that shiny city on a hill. Now, we are witnessing the erosion of all that we were, by the rising tide of greed, deceit and complicity that is flooding the gates to our arsenal of truth, justice and liberty. And we see the hovering shadows of our past and the red menace of our worst fears and nightmares overtaking the dreams and hopes that made us great and made us strong.

If only it were so — if only this too shall pass — but history has already shown us the way down the path to the cruelty of apathy and deference, and acceptance of the will of those who assume the power — unchecked and unimpeded by the will of the people or words on a yellowing piece of parchment.

Al Garcia lives in Palm Valley.