The United States needs a new generation of political leaders, men and women who can reframe our nation. For nearly a century the U. S. has been like the Titanic: modern, elegant, powerful, bigger, and better than any ship on the seas–unsinkable. But the world has sailed into a post modern era where might no longer makes right, where possessions no longer determine wealth, where individuals ask how they can contribute to the greater good in a global reality. Yet even though we have hit the iceberg the American mindset is still that the Titanic is the most reliable boat around.
Throughout his campaign President Obama’s rhetoric filled the nation with hope. But the old politics of Washington has nearly sucked the life blood out of his promise. Shall we point fingers and blame Mr. Obama? These seems to be the loudest voices we hear, the old politics, the big ships. But the Titanic’s mammoth size could not save her, nor will (if any of us are to be saved) the loudest voices in today’s political arena.
A recent article in the New York Times pointed its finger at the President and suggested our inability to free ourselves from the politics of the past is due to his inability to reframe the debate. The writer states:
“Implicit in the president’s vow to move us beyond the obsolescence of ’60s politics was the idea that he would replace it with something else, that he would reframe the debate of the 21st century in a way that would make our choices as a society seem clearer and more interconnected.
“He hasn’t, or at least not to this point. And without that modern framework there is only an absence, the familiar vortex that keeps pulling us back to things we had hoped to leave behind.”
The writer’s contention seems to be that we are stuck doing business as usual, that Mr. Obama has yet to do his job, to turn our ship around, to point us in a new direction. In truth, the writer, like most of the voices we hear, is equally stuck. He still thinks we are on the right ship. Left right, red blue, allies enemies, hawks doves, black white, male female, young old, gray green, business labor, wealthy poor. Us. Or. Them. We continue to think we only have two choices. We continue to think our answers lie with who has the power to control the game (often measured on a monetary scale). And, we continue to try to wrestle the power away from those who have it as if that alone will solve our problems.
I rather believe the 60’s were like John the Baptist proclaiming to the world, “Prepare ye the way! A new day is dawning! A new kingdom is at hand!” Our failure to escape the “politics of the 60’s” is in truth a failure to understand the message of the 60’s. Racism, sexism, ageism, the superiority of privilege, the inferiority of the masses, and the answer of war are lies. Each one propagated by fear, fed with suspicion, and nurtured at the breast of greedy self-interest.
The 60’s offered us an opportunity to sing a new song. Voices as varied as Martin Luther King and the Beatles challenged us to embrace a mentality of inclusion, to “give peace a chance”, and to open our hearts, our minds, and our souls to a vision of the future which recognizes, in the words of Dr. King, “That their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” That we cannot “satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” And that “we cannot walk alone.”
We. Are. Them. And a house divided against itself cannot stand.