Monday, June 07, 2010

A letter to the editor

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I emailed this evening. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: It was published on Sunday, June 20, 2010.

I have hope for America. Admittedly, negative superlatives dominate our news: the nation’s largest wealth disparity; warmest oceans, smallest glaciers; biggest deficit; highest arms spending; most massive oil spill. One might fairly despair over the incessant reports of disastrous conditions that are the “worst,” “biggest,” “most.”

But I have hope, and it springs from this fact: We Americans are aging—and we are multitudes.

Why hope? Because age renders people wiser. Elders—Eisenhower in his farewell address, Greenspan in Congressional testimony, McNamara in late writings, to cite three famous examples—often achieve in maturity a reflective candor about the true state of things. Eisenhower about the “military-industrial complex,” Greenspan about unregulated markets, McNamara about Vietnam.

We older folks also consume less. We no longer value cars, clothes and computers, but sunsets, sanity and siestas. We don’t count our dollars, but our blessings. We don’t charge things, we care for, and share, things. It’s not the acquisition of possessions but their disposition that rewards us.

Finally, we tire more readily. We grow weary of the drama of interminable rhetoric of war—whether against terror, against drugs, against each other—having learned that each war simply begets more war, and usually a new industry and a new bureaucracy; and that each war fails, leaving an increasingly exhausted and embittered nation.

So my hope is simply this: that we mature Americans, soon a majority, will take hold of our country and guide it with the wisdom, community and serenity that comes with age.