BY BOB BEARDEN
To be or not to be, that is the question. In light of the turn that our nation has taken down the dark road that leads back to an even darker time I wonder, can I still be? I, like Hamlet, see a sea of troubles that in some way I must oppose. I cannot take up arms but I can over the next four years continue to speak my mind and in that way oppose and dispose and expose that which I perceive to be wrong.
In the shambles of the election it is hard to see a course down which I shall go and at my age make a difference in this world. A world that now will likely get harder to see the kindness of humans. A world that will now likely be less and less friendly to the values that I have always held. The values that my mother and grandfather imparted to me and of which I have strived to practice all my adult life.
Those values today are in stark contrast to what I see happening to our nation and its people. We are a nation divided against ourselves and there seems to be no room for conciliation. We have reached the wide abyss and are I fear in dire peril of falling into the pit of darkness consumed by hatred and fear.
We have elected a man who has offered a helping hand to all who hate and all who fear and who has for the past 16 months spewed forth a chorus of hate, fear, bigotry and racism. How is he going to heal a nation and bring it together across a wide abyss that he himself has helped create? That will take a complete turn about in direction and I do not believe that he intends to change the path that he has set for himself and this nation and its people.
How, I ask you, my friends, can a man who has brought back hate, fear and distrust now unite a terrifyingly divided nation of which he incited to hate, stoked the fires of bigotry and racism and ramped up the fear of others not of his skin color? Where in his rhetoric is a call to bind our nation of rich and shaded colors together as one voice as one people? I see it not and I fear that instead of healing the sores he has created over these past months he is going to rip off the scab of oppression and tear loose the very fabric of our rich heritage.
His voice has been raised in an agenda of fear, hate and bigotry. How can he now begin to preach love, caring and kindness? His rabid base of hate mongers will not permit it to happen. They want this nation to go backwards into that not so good night of angry days when racism and bigotry were institutionalized. When so many feared and hated their neighbors just because of the color of their skin.
We should be long past that point in our national discourse, but he has ripped off the scabs that we as a people and a nation have so closely guarded and we are faced with a scenario that what we have believed to be true is not true. We have not conquered hatred and fear of our neighbors we have only pretended it to be so.
When he began his campaign he awaked a coarse, rabid element in our nation that has seethed with anger and hatred for these past 50 years and who now see in him a savior for the way of life that they have always longed to go back to. We are entering a scary time and with a leader who isn’t in the least elemental way ready or able to lead a nation divided against itself.
We can pray for him and pray that he will rise above his ignorance and somehow become the leader that we need, but even now as the shock of his election begins to wear off we are seeing that tiny thread of hope being extinguished by each day’s pronouncements of his appointees who will carry out his agenda into the next four years.
He has shown no real statesmanship only a total lack of preparedness to lead and that does not bode well for our nation or its people. As someone said recently to me, he is driving a clown car loaded with an assortment of really scary clowns.
To be or not to be truly is the question. Or perhaps to be or what to be would frame it better. We are in uncharted waters here in this nation. As the late Merle Haggard once said, “Are we headed downhill like a snowball headed for hell?” Only time can answer that but I am afraid given a chance and given the frame of mind of this man we are likely to be caught in his rush to take us in that direction.
FDR said at the outset of his presidency, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” And fear itself is now facing being institutionalized into the very fabric of our government. As Bette Davis said in the movie All About Eve, “Fasten your seat belts it’s going to be a bumpy night!” Hey, it’s likely to be a very bumpy four years.
Well, my final thought takes me back to Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!”
– Bob Bearden is a trustee for the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation, a member of Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC, and a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer