Resist the temptation to point fingers

My turn

Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Happy day? Or sad day? For some, the Tuesday night U.S. Supreme Court decision was a victory; for others, a defeat.

We know that that decision, and the entire presidential election process for the year 2000, will have to be judged by history. But for me personally, the comic-tragic events unfolding in Florida and Washington D.C. since Nov. 7 have swirled like a vicious whirlpool about this central issue: a devastating attack upon, and deadly undermining of, our democracy and our laws.

In the aftermath of the storm, we are left standing, haggard and weary, in the middle of the muddy road of uncertainty over how elections should be managed, and with a fear and a dread that the will of the voter may be determined in the future, not by ballot, but by judicial decree.

The slug-out between the opponents, watched breathlessly by the press and reported moment by moment to an anxious public, has left only bitterness, envy, and unrest in its wake. Each side accuses the other of bad intentions and dishonesty.

It will be extremely difficult for the next President to bring bi-partisan unity to the nation.

Do you want to blame something, or someone, as you pound your pillow or your desk in frustration? Perhaps it was the peoples' fault for being so divided in their love and loyalties. Perhaps it was the political parties' fault for quarreling and bickering. Perhaps it was more the fault of the GOP for flubbing its chance at leadership and blaming the liberals. Or perhaps it was the fault of the Democrats for accusing the conservatives of being too right-wing. Or maybe the President was at fault for failing to control his passions.

Or you may want to blame the courts, or the environmentalists, or the economy, or the military, or Hollywood, or the media, or foreign influences.

But we as Americans must resist the temptation to point fingers. We must look within our own collective and individual hearts. I believe, as we look, we will see that at the core of the problem is American decadence.

Since World War II, we have been a ship adrift on a driven sea. We have had little or no leadership to guide us, to show us dangers ahead, show how to avoid pitfalls, how to achieve goals. Most of us have long forgotten what the American Revolution was about, or what a price was paid in suffering to win at Valley Forge, to sign the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, or what a self-disciplined morality underlay and sustained those great achievements.

Now we need a national leader with a high vision who can help remind us, not only of our history, but also of our destiny. We can earnestly pray that our next President, presumably Mr. Bush, will be such a man. With a resulting unity, healing, and strengthening for other storms ahead.

Don Adams of Juneau is a retired journalist and businessman, a husband and a father.

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