Friends, Romans, Countrymen! I have come to praise Willard, not to bury him.
Well, not really. I wish him no ill. I hope he goes off into his gilded retirement and we never, EVER, have to hear his name again. I will confess that I still wake up and remind myself that he lost and smile and thank the good Lord above. He would have been an atrocious president and we had the good, collective, sense to see that and to reject him and his little friend Paulie Ryan. Well done America! Well done.
But that's not why I'm here today. I'm here, at long last, and for the absence I do apologize, to talk about two things.
Number One: I spent 8 days in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, recently and I came away with one overriding feeling. We will never escape tragedies such as that which happened at the elementary school there until we fix the way in which we resolve our conflicts.
It's less about the guns then it is about the national tone. We resolve our disagreements with various degrees of violence. When a football or baseball team meets before a game they say, about their opponents, "Let's kill 'em!"
When one stock broker makes a great deal he "wasted" the competition. When a movie is a success it is a "smash hit."
Our language is full of words that we use to invoke victory. And so when one guy swipes a parking spot from another guy an argument can turn violent and, if a gun is present, fatal.
We yell and scream and we don't listen to each other in an attempt to find common ground. We resort to violence to solve our familial, local, regional, national and international problems.
This dovetails into Number Two.
What the EFF is going on in Washington? We have two parties who are at odds about what to do with the country and neither is really listening to the other. The members of congress claim to have the best interests of the country in mind but they act in an opposite manner.
We all understand that we live in a representative democracy. Stipulated. What is good for Rhode Island may not be good for Oregon. Got it.
But the ultimate truth is that what is good for the country, as a whole, is good for Rhode Island and Oregon...and Wyoming and California and New Jersey and so on.
Our congressional representatives, both in The House and in the Senate, are so busy trying to get reelected and/or satisfying the needs of either their benefactors or their constituents, or both, that they have completely lost sight of the welfare of country at large.
Not every bill nor piece of legislation will positively effect the citizenry. Some will win and some will lose. But if our "leaders" were to think of the good of the entire United States instead of their narrow, selfish desires, then maybe we would enjoy the growth and prosperity that they, and we, so desperately need.
But Number One and Number Two are pies in the sky.
I was a member of the oft-maligned media that was in Sandy Hook. I said then, and it is true now, that once we turned our cameras off the story would be over. We have returned to business as usual. We are now fixated on the "Fiscal Cliff" and the playoffs and are just waiting for the next great tragedy.
For the people of Sandy Hook the story will never be over but for the rest of the country, we have all moved on.
Nothing will ever change. And once Congress has gone over the cliff and then passed legislation to fix the problems that they have created, they will be on to the next great debate and the next edition of brinksmanship that they know so well.
We have to change the tone. We have to learn to compromise. We have to learn to think of what's good for all of us in the long run in the big picture.
Otherwise we are doomed. Otherwise we are Rome. And we know what happened to them.
Happy New Year...