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We Ponder

Editorial | June 11th, 2023

By John Strand & Thomas Bixby

jas@hpr1.com

Our Opinion: No way to delay, trouble comin’ every day.

Whatever happened to dignity, empathy, and so much that goes into our hard-won civilization. How did we get here and where are we going?

These United States are on the brink of collapse, each in its own way. The divisiveness is so prevalent that about the only consensus is a sense of noncohesion.

The polarization of otherwise ordinary people is palpable, borderline dangerous. Except now more people have guns, everywhere. It is dangerous to knock on a door asking for directions, or to use someone’s driveway to turn around, or drive a car in dense traffic while young men without prospects weave in and out at 75+ miles per hour.

Is it that we’ve lost our pride? Is that what’s going on? Are we rather envious of others? Are we insecure and needing bolstering, fostering?

Don’t forget that rent and food and getting to the end of the month and especially having a place to live are hard for most of us in this new space, the community wanting to take down rather than build up.

Our self-made surroundings are not the same as they were three years ago. We are groping in the dark. Half of us, it seems, are working or trying to, and the others are getting better at scamming.

Older Americans who speak only Spanish are the latest target, in their native language: Who am I speaking to? What residence have I reached? I am calling to bring your data up to date. You are the happy winner of… Hello uncle! Hello cousin! Grampa, I’ve been kidnapped. We are watching and we can see you. We know that you have… We will kill your son, daughter, if you don’t…

The notion that anarchy seems contemporary and acceptable is itself frightening. We were a country based on democratic principles while implicitly protecting the individual, the minority.

Compromise, where’s that these days? Where’s the middle ground, the happy medium? Where’s the give and take, the collaboration? We need to win in each of our little arguments. It’s imperative.

And where is the planet going, given that we’ve done our best to taint and poison our very own ecosystem while robbing it, our only home, of anything we covet or simply want, regardless of consequence?

Most front-page headline news stories are bus stops and we’re scared of where we’re going. We sense cataclysmic change, at an unknown time and place but not too far away, and know we and our leaders are unprepared for it.

Statesmen and women are a rarity. However, they are needed. Leaders who heal rather than divide, who listen. Leaders with fellow feeling in their hearts as well as the required insatiable personal drive to be powerful.

Leaders in each moment means each of us standing up for what’s right, true and dignified, one interaction at a time, one moment after another.

That’s where change comes from. It starts with us: people power.

When it’s not possible to go outside and survive the heat for very long, when large areas of many countries are on fire, when coastal cities no longer exist, possessing a gun or a closet full of them will not help. We’re getting a taste of things already. Much of the world already knows firsthand what climate catastrophe looks like. And the accompanying deprivation of food, water and safe shelter.

We can play victim, sit in the bleachers and armchair quarterback our daily issues or we can decide enough is enough and stand up for right when confronted with wrongs. We can redirect negative moments.

This editorial does not mention political parties or factions, individuals or the obvious players “out there.” It’s a plea to each of you, to your moral compass, your sense of righteousness, your natural and homegrown class and noblesse oblige.

Your desire for a decent life for everyone.

Stand up, look around, do your own kind of leading, by yourself. Then watch the world – your world at least – start to change.

…We just read the story about Henri, the French backpacker who intervened to save children under knife attack, warded off the attacker with his backpack and who refused to give his last name to the press.

And then the thought that we have a few people like Henri in Fargo-Moorhead, probably a little more than our share…




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