Time to Grow UP

30 May

AMERICA’S TEEN YEARS ARE OVER

Louise Annarino

May 30, 2012

 

In 1978, as Columbus Legal Aid Society staff attorney, I had a client who had traveled to the Nebraska Territory as a 5 year old, her bare feet dangling over the back edge of the Conestoga wagon. As she was making her way west with her family, my Italian immigrant grandparents were being processed through Ellis Island. The timing of these events seemed to my young mind to be in the ancient past. These were events I had studied in history books. Interviewing my client that day affirmed what I had also been taught in history class – America is a young nation.

 

Over the years, I have often had to remind myself that young countries, like young people are often impetuous, misguided, unable to imagine a future where they are not the center of everyone’s universe. As we age we realize we are but a small part of the whole, no one is really paying any attention to us, and we need to think before acting to avoid mistakes. Young people are the gods of instant gratification. Older people are surprised whenever they have reason to feel gratified. Accepting less than what one hoped for is all too commonplace. Okay replaces great, good replaces perfect in the  vocabulary of the mature.

 

Tall tales are told by every age group; but,the young are more likely to believe them. Ad agencies, abetted by entertainment-focused news media have institutionalized tall-tale telling in America. And America is still young enough, naive enough, and gullible enough  to believe what it reads, sees, and hears. We chide the ancient Greeks, Italians and Vikings for their ancient wisdom urging them to act like the teenagers we act like. Teens assume everyone is the same, and hide any unique characteristic which would set them apart from their friends. They travel in packs, alert for any opportunity to enhance their stature or wealth, with the least amount of effort and few accomplishments to justify it.

 

Maybe it is time America grew up. Maybe it is time we only reward those who contribute to the common good and the survival of America. Maybe it is time to realize we are not infallible and admit when we make mistakes. Maybe it is time to accept those civilizations which survive are those which have something positive to offer the world: art, music, freedom, education, compassion, wisdom, openness to the gifts of other nations.

 

Maybe it is time we grew up. Maybe it is time to see bravado and war-mongering as a sign of  fear and weakness. Maybe it is time to see stereotypes and discrimination as a lack of imagination and knowledge. Maybe it is time to see distorting truth and manipulating economic markets for private gain over public good as greed and piracy.

 

Mature nations and mature people know themselves well, take time to learn others well, remain true to reality, understand life is difficult and complex, make decisions calmly and  with the input of those more knowledgeable than themselves, can cooperate and assimilate, mediate and confront with more light than heat. Mature persons reserve their strength, their opinion, their actions for the greatest impact. Mature persons are other-centered, not me-centered. A mature person would not associate with a buffoon-ignoramus-racist, going to the lowest level of American politics to win the presidency.1

 

I do not intend to vote for a teenager. I shall vote for the adult in the room, President Barack Obama. His leadership during his first term has been measured and mature, focused and decisive, cooperative and comfortably confrontive. America is now a mature player on the world stage; steady and dependable, self-assured and polite, strong and supportive of a more mature and peaceful world. Neither America nor President Obama are perfect; but, they are good. They are very good!

 

 

1. Matthews: Romney ‘Going To The Lowest Level Of American Politics’ With Trump Appearance, Noah Rothman,5:59 pm, May 29th, 2012,  http://www.mediaite.com/tv/matthews-romney-going-to-the-lowest-level-of-american-politics-with-trump-appearance/

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