As most of our weekly readers know, it’s not often that I dip my keyboard into national discussions. When I do, it’s because I believe there’s room for a local conversation, and now seems as good a time as any. May I offer some observations?
First, watching our nation’s transfer of power is astonishing. We just spent eight years with a president half our country loves and half utterly despises. We just elected a new president that the first half now despises and the second half has grown to love.
President Obama and new President Trump will share no Beer Summits in the next four years. They are as diametrically opposed on issues of national importance as any two politicians can be. Yet there they were – Obama welcoming Trump into the White House, shaking his hand, and sitting politely behind him as Trump spent his first 20 minutes as President disparaging virtually every action Obama had taken as this nation’s leader.
Funny thing, because eight years earlier, George W. Bush welcomed Obama to the White House with an even bigger smile and sat behind Obama as the new president spent his first 19 minutes as president scorning every move Bush had made as president.
We either live in the most civilized nation in the world, or we are the biggest bunch of fakes this planet has ever known. It’s probably both. We are gracious frauds.
Meek Shall Inherit
No matter if you love or hate him, let’s not make any mistake about this new fellow in office. President Trump is not a sip of beer that gently eases over the palate. He’s an acquired taste of a craft brew that blends boisterous barley with a touch of parking-lot bully.
One of Trump’s press lackeys went on a talk show earlier this week to hail the IQs of the men and women the new president has nominated for his cabinet.
If these nominees are one-tenth as smart as we’ve been told, they will hold a group intercession with our new president and tell him to cut it out with the pre-teen whining. Don’t send your press secretary in front of every camera in America to pick a fight on inauguration crowd size. Yeah, and my dad can beat up your dad.
Trump has been most appealing over the past 18 months in his fleeting moments of humility. At its core, that is what our country seeks most from her leaders, and our new president would do much to heal this nation’s discord by an injection of meekness.
That’s probably like asking a duck to bark, but at least we can ask.
Our Nation of Winners
If the last week of political observation has shown me anything, it’s that we may be ruining our nation, child-by-child, one T-ball game at a time.
Some of you may have heard of a guy named Michael Jordan. As a youngster, my room was littered with posters of the greatest basketball player of all time – and it’s not even arguable.
If you haven’t heard the story, Jordan tried out for the basketball team at Emsley A. Laney High School when he was a 15-year-old sophomore, and when the final roster was posted to the locker room wall, Jordan’s name was nowhere to be found. He didn’t make the team. Two years later, he accepted a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina – the biggest basketball powerhouse in the land.
As I watched the inauguration last week, and as I watched people burn cars (and in one case, a person), shatter windows and stand in front of microphones threatening to bomb the White House in revolt against our new president, somehow, I thought about Jordan.
The greatest basketball player to ever step foot on a court was told by a high school coach that he wasn’t good enough, strong enough or tall enough to be on the team, leaving Jordan with one of two very distinct options. He could have thrown his arms the air, cursed the coach, scorned his classmates who did make the team and started shattering all the locker room windows in a show of protest.
Obviously, that’s not what he did. Here’s how Jordan’s reaction was described in a Newsweek article:
“‘It was embarrassing not making the team,’ Jordan later said. He went home, locked himself in his room and cried. Then he picked himself up and turned the cut into motivation. ‘Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it,’ Jordan would explain. ‘That usually got me going again.’”
We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? Maybe this started with the Baby Boomer generation, as one friend suggested. I tend to think this is the product of a new generation of people – many of them first-time voters – who have been told that the word “losing” is no longer part of the American lexicon.
We don’t keep score at games. We hand out participation trophies, because everyone’s a winner. We create safe-spaces so people can insulate themselves from the real world.
If you’re like me and feel awful about the state of this country and her political climate, maybe it’s not so much the person who just assumed the highest office in the land. Maybe it’s our fault. We are the ones teaching young people they are always right. We have shielded them from life’s greatest teacher – losing.
It’s no wonder our country feels like it’s in a state of constant revolt these days. We’ve introduced a large part of America to the foreign concept of losing, and all they can do is blame the coach, their teammates and start kicking in locker room windows.
Maybe we should close our eyes, see the changes we’d like to make, and get going again. That’s what losers should do. That’s what winners do.