As a young woman, I had enormous respect for the Supreme Court. I looked upon the justices as a group of wise people who the country could safely depend on to interpret the law fairly. Although I knew about the Dred Scott case and Plessy v. Ferguson, I considered those verdicts within the context of the times in which they were rendered. Even as I grew older and learned about the politics involved in choosing justices, it was still hard for me to come to grips with the fact that the justices had feet of clay. I needed and wanted to believe that there was someplace on this earth, where justice would be unfailingly served.
Now that I know better, I'm not sure that some individuals can be convinced that they are not free to interpret the Constitution anyway they choose and act on their beliefs. In the matter of petitioning the government for the redress of one's grievances, I'm certain that we don't all agree on what that means. According to Webster's dictionary, to petition is to make a formal request or earnest prayer. Encouraging people to commit acts such as throwing tea or anything else in the water, as far as I'm concerned, is over the line. Are people who do that certain that lake or river is not the source of the public's drinking water? But I'm not willing to say, at the present time, how the Supreme Court would rule in that matter.
Growing up, I also had great respect for Christians. I actually believed that no matter what denomination one belonged to the fact that murder was a violation of the Commandments was a common belief. In religion, there has always been a lunatic fringe. What's new is to find it embraced by people who assert themselves as serious believers and who wish to be taken seriously.
So for me, the United States of America is a radically different place today than it was when I was a young woman. Politics has become the religion of choice. Where are the moral and spiritual leaders needed to address our current dilemma?
What is deeply troubling to me is that I cannot detect a nonpolitical unifying voice with a clear sense of direction to lead us out of the morass. We seem to have lost our grounding. We need something infinitely more substantial to lean on than political propaganda. Is it possible with all our advanced technology there is not one place to where we can go for discussion of vital social issues that has no political component? Shouldn't we be talking about the future of education, for example?
At the rate we are moving I don't see how it will be possible for us to maintain our position of leadership in the world. The only thing we have going for us presently is a superior military establishment. Unless we plan to negotiate our differences by holding a gun to the heads of other government leaders, what else do we have to offer? In what other area do we stand out?
I realize that there are many, many Americans who believe that things are just fine the way they are. Their thinking is that other countries are standing still in their development and can't possibly compete with us. This comes from their failure to venture beyond their own circle of people who think and talk the same way as they do. These people desperately need to expand their horizons.
For one thing we are no longer a wealthy country. We must constantly borrow from other countries to sustain our way of life. We need to stop behaving like bullies on the world stage. Everyone else knows we're broke; there's no one we can any longer impress.
I feel that radio and television stations should devote a certain amount of time to public service in which they should host public discussions on local and national issues offering people the opportunity to listen to scholars address matters of importance to us all. All of us need the necessary facts to assess our situation concerning matters that affect the future of our city, state and country.
It seems to me that currently all we are doing is wallowing around in a world of half-truths, political propaganda, religious dogma, rumors and gossip, while reality swims around our heads and drowns in a pool of confused thinking. Surely we can't depend on politicians and television pundits to interpret for us the direction we should seek for our survival.
It's time to act.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.