In June I shall celebrate (?) my 65th birthday. I can clearly recall the apprehensive times of the Cold War. I have some vague recollections of the Korean Conflict. The Vietnam Fiasco is current history for me, and the two Kennedy and King assassinations have been burned onto my memory banks. I vividly recall Disco and the Bee Gees as well as alternate day gasoline purchases. The high interest rates and rampant inflation during the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s are easily accessible from my pain-laden memory banks. I can still visualize the second aircraft turning into the Twin Towers while I watched from the safety of my daughter’s living room. The sense of horror and dread that I felt at that moment is still with me. It marked the beginning of a decade that has changed our nation forever.
As I reflect on the past nine and a quarter years, I can recall of no similar period in my lifetime that has been as unsettling for so long. Every decade had its lows and highs…its endings and fresh beginnings, but the first decade of the Twenty-first Century has been one of doubt, frustration, and, in some cases, fear. My fears are not based on the possibility of my family or me becoming victims of terrorism, nor do they arise from a morbid expectation of an environmental catastrophe. No, my fears are deep-seated and gnawing. They represent a sense of exaggerated uneasiness and discomfort. My mind continues to protest that what is bad could be worse, and we can salvage our nation and make it better. My gut disagrees. Perhaps it is a product of my age, but I have this nagging sense that the sand is near the bottom of the hour glass…that our time is nearly gone. Oh, maybe we’ll survive as a nation, but we’ll have radical divisions among us…sometimes violent ones, and our once-upon-a-time economic powerhouse and living standard will compete with other nations in the Second World.
Now it’s not my intention to make this column into a hand-wringing tale of woe. It is merely a personal observation of my sense of our nation today. This past year (2010) has been the most difficult one of my life. Maybe my view is jaundiced because I drove more than 85,000 miles during a ten month campaign. Many of the events that I attended were exhilarating and fulfilling, but beneath the glad handing, the smiling and the speech making was an undercurrent of dismay. The people were valiantly attempting to forge on as if their lives were normal, but they appeared to be anxious. I drove past numerous closed plants and foreclosed homes. I visited convenience stores with empty dusty shelves. The overall mood that I witnessed was one of apprehension, but not yet despairing. A certain wariness seemed to have invaded the normally warm hearted Buckeyes. It was a cordial caution.
Normally I’m a rather upbeat fellow. I prefer to seek the silver lining when I encounter difficult times. The sense of foreboding that I have now is alien to my nature. I have a new appreciation for the Old Testament prophets who valiantly attempted to wake up the Children of Israel, and who were usually ignored or scorned. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see myself as a spokesperson for God or the Founders, but I do understand their agony when their messages went unheeded. Also, I am aware that my concern and my fearfulness are not solely my own. There are many of you, warriors all, who have decided that it is time to draw the line and say, “NO MORE.” I am heartened by your passion and your courage.
Tomorrow I will look to the days and years ahead, and will try not to be so morose. Allow me to close by stating that I’m relieved that 2010 is nearly over…mere hours remain of what, for me, has been a dreadful year.