Great Again?

America has grown “great again” in some respects: the economy is strong, employment high, and the stock market keeps surmounting threatening bumps. Inevitably though, doubts about our supposed greatness do arise. How evenly have these developments spread geographically throughout our country. And have they benefited the poorer ranks of the population along with the richer?

Obamacare, we were told, was a “disaster,” but there is no plan in the 2020 budget assigned to take its place. America, it was claimed, had lost a “greatness” from which it is now recovering. But with prices rising and personal debt (to say nothing of the national debt) soaring, is it in fact any easier to enter the middle class now than it was in 2016? And more importantly, is economic advance the only measure of a country’s “greatness” anyway? Is not a society of intensifying partisanship and increasing incivility farther away from growing into greatness than ever?

When a “never Trump” voter will not speak to a Trump acolyte, or vice versa, each minimizes the citizenship they have in common. What does such a rejection of difference indicate about how we have come to relate to each other? What we are now increasingly convinced of, it seems to me, is our essential isolation as individuals. We may be lucky enough to be close to a few family members, a supportive spouse, and a handful of friends (most of these probably temporary). We may even have the sometimes spurious closeness of attendance at a rally, a football game, or a church service. But the feeling of commonality in belonging to a neighborhood or town or city–of that there is now generally very little.

Grim reports in the daily local and national news have always been with us. But they are lately getting grimmer and increasingly attributable to that feeling of hopeless isolation I mentioned above. In future comments I propose to examine some of these more recent reports, emphasizing the need for those larger communities, accepting of difference, that can contribute to our becoming more genuinely “great again.” #economic strength #partisanship #incivility #isolated individuality #sense of community

Published by ronwendlingoutlookcom

My life has had three phases: one as a Jesuit seminarian, recorded in my 2015 memoir (Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past, Oak Tree Press); another as a college teacher and scholar of 19th century British Literature, best recorded in Coleridge's Progress to Christianity: Experience and Authority in Religious Faith (Associated University Presses, 1995); and finally my current phase as a retiree given to social media posts and photo commentary on my travels with my wife, Mary.

2 thoughts on “Great Again?

  1. This grimness you speak of is something I feel all the time in my gut. You described it’s causes so eloquently. One of your greatest gifts is your ability to “name” something and when you do, you make readers feel less alone because they feel the same exact way. That’s what you did for me as I just read your post. I look forward to hearing more on this subject from you. It takes all we have to rise above this grimness every day…it’s hard to maintain a sense of joy and hope. But we are not alone in it so long as people like you continue to articulate it. Cathy Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

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