I was reading one of my two-year-old grandson’s books to him last night; it’s entitled Good Night, America. I, myself, own two in that series, Good Night, Colorado and Good Night, Virginia. They’re all chock full of respect for whatever location they’re covering. Anyway, the second page of my grandson’s book says, “Hello, Statue of Liberty, standing tall for what is right.” And there it is, a very important message for two-year-olds. And for a president who just acts like a two-year-old. But I have a feeling that two-year-olds like my Charlie get this message much more clearly than the president ever could or would.
I would love to know why we as a nation seem to have lost that desire to “stand tall for what is right.” And we’ve definitely lost it. It’s not as simple as just doing the right thing when it comes to giving aid, shelter, and sometimes life to immigrants who need us, although that’s hugely important and undoubtedly the reference to Lady Liberty. We seem to have lost that desire to stand tall for anything that’s truly important. Clearly our current leaders are sounding the retreat and trying hard to lead us away from all the good things for which we used to stand. Our president and his despicable band of highwaymen certainly stand tall for the wealthy, but not the little guy who is losing the fight to stay afloat. They stand tall for big business but not the environment that big business is killing. They stand tall for the rights of the fetus but not the child, and certainly not the mother or, in fact, women in general. They clearly aren’t standing tall for our children’s education or those Americans who struggle to feed their families. Basically, they stand tall for all the wrong things and frequently, and ironically, do it in the name of the Lord.
They stood tall for the Keystone Pipeline, which just today leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. They stood tall for a president who is a self-proclaimed abuser of women and now, incredibly, some struggle with where to place their loyalty in cases like that of Roy Moore. They stood tall with the NRA, and we now have mass shootings on almost a daily basis like the ones in Vegas and Texas. For a group of lawmakers who should be standing tall for what is right, they’re some of the smallest people you could ever envision, seemingly devoid of conscience, compassion, and common decency.
I want to believe that our once great country will one day soon stand tall for what is right, but every day there’s a new development that lets me know we’re going in the opposite direction. We are, in fact, “up to our knees in floor,” as a MASH character once said. We are no longer the most respected country in the world, losing out currently to Germany. The president is more concerned with NFL players quietly protesting racism and everyone saying ‘Merry Christmas’ than he is in allegations of treason. He tragically stands tall for bigots such as himself rather than their victims and sees ‘good people’ among hate-filled white supremacists. He is, in fact, seemingly so opposed to the nation’s standing tall for anything right that I think we had better get to work through the Charlie’s of our country now to effect positive changes down the road; the adults in charge clearly don’t have the moral fiber to stand up for anything or anyone unless those people have the money or the power to benefit them.
The very next page in Charlie’s book says, “Happy spring, Washington, DC, our nation’s capital” on pages with illustrations of the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, etc., surrounded by blossoming trees and blooming spring flowers. And for the first time in my life, these pictures and illustrations bring me absolutely no pleasure and even less pride. They are reminders of how we no longer stand tall for anything that matters, and the fact that we (and most likely Putin) somehow voted into office a sad excuse for a human being with no regard for anyone but himself and empowered a Congress comprised of a group who advance only their own interests.
A children’s book, written in 2006, by the way, lest anyone thinks this sweet book is an anti-Trump statement, nails it: America’s reputation had always been as a nation that stood tall for what is right. But our voter choices contradict that and make us at least partially culpable for the heinous position in which we find ourselves. We’ve abdicated our responsibility to the rest of the world and to those we love. I only hope that Trump, his dubious appointees, and his elected goons don’t take us so far down the rabbit hole that the Charlie’s of the world can’t someday pull us back up. I’d like to think that Charlie’s book will one day, once again, be an accurate portrayal of who we are as a nation, and that America’s standing tall for what is right will be truth and not fiction in a children’s book.