I would like to give a heartfelt “thank you” to the many people that have sacrificed throughout the years to develop, maintain, and protect our society and chosen form of government. I have lived almost seven decades in a country that is truly blessed. A country that has allowed me to realize the benefit of hard work and raise my family in relative prosperity and security. All the time feeling that I truly had a say in how this should all be managed. We are rich, but not necessarily in dollars.
We can (and absolutely should) focus a significant portion of our efforts on the negative aspects of our country’s history and current issues to keep from repeating such horrible mistakes. Nevertheless, please allow me to focus this short time on the wonderful things that have happened because of democracy.
I love being in a country with such amazing diversity. When compared to societies in China, Africa, Scandinavia, India, etc. etc.; the USA is truly a “melting pot” of ethnicities from here and around the world. You merely need limited travel abroad (away from the tourist centers) to see that we truly are a country of many cultures and exceptional diversity, in comparison.
My Scandinavian relatives came to the USA when life became untenable in their own countries. When I asked a distant cousin in the central fiord country of Norway: “ …. Why did my great grandfather leave such an incredibly beautiful place?” His response was: “They couldn’t eat rocks.” He was of course referring to an overtaxing of economic carrying capacity and overharvest of the natural resource base of the time. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common story across our planet today that can devolve into ethnic cleansing, civil war, or authoritarian expansionism. Please remember these facts when you are forming your opinions about acceptance and taking care of one another.
Back to our democracy and the positive aspects of it.
Over the last three election cycles I believe we have elected and appointed the most diverse group of leaders this country has ever seen. Even if this is not statistically correct, I think we can all agree that “we have come a long way baby” (AND we have a long way to go).
We have just endured a very difficult time in the USA. A time when the fringes of society (on all sides) have used propaganda, and the incredible changes in how that propaganda is disseminated, in an almost ubiquitous attempt to mold people’s opinions against one another. Please don’t let them do that to you. Please focus on what is possible if we continue down the difficult and frustrating path that was established over three generations ago: American Democracy. Please focus on our ability to make needed changes if we work together (kind of). It’s called compromise and “working across the aisle.”
If you need proof, please look at the latest election results. The “crazies,” on both sides, lost. The democratic process has clearly stated: “Knock it off, you idiots.” Yes, some extremists were elected on both sides, but that is OK in the balance of things.
That is what democracy can do, if we let it, and stay involved. Open and fair democracy, and rule of law, help keep the fringe opinions from turning our society and government into a singular mindset. A singular mindset is possibly the downfall of all failed societies that have come before us.
In a “true” democracy it is not OK to take away your neighbor’s livelihood without supplying alternatives; It is not OK to put your agenda above all others and refuse to compromise; It is not OK to lie, intimidate, and ignore your fellow citizen’s needs and beliefs to make your own paramount.
I believe this latest election was a testament to that.
Nobody “Won.” No ideology ran roughshod over their colleagues to get everything they wanted. We have remained in this incredibly frustrating, but incredibly necessary: “Middle.”
Thank you, democracy. I am truly humbled by your genius.
And to all my fellow citizens: Please use some of this holiday season to take stock of all the wonderful things about your life that you have, and not what you believe you should have.
All the best, Bob Swenson
Bob Swenson is enjoying retirement from a wonderful career in geology with his last 10 years as Alaska state geologist.