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Letter: A United State In America

As a high school teacher of social studies with a background in law, I suppose that I get way too excited over historical events. One of my former students recently reminded me how “out of control” (OOC) I was during the course of the 2000 Presidential Election fiasco. I will admit that on top of being a history aficionado, I am truly amazed at history as it is happening! A very recent historical event (far too tragic, I might add) is the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In the wake of this act, there are many who are attempting to remedy the situation. As a nation, we want to do something, ANYTHING to prevent a reoccurrence of this carnage. There are a few who are putting forth their very best efforts to make this a hysterical rather than historical event. The irony of the situation is that there are people whose views are diametrically opposed on the issue of gun control utilizing precisely identical tactics to further entrench arguments which we have heard repeatedly over the years. The real dangerous ones here are those who have the power to change our laws. Short of amending the constitution, we must rely on our elected officials to do something.

Oh yes, our elected officials CAN be dangerous. There was a time when we elected officials whom we hoped were of a mindset similar to ourselves, possessing values similar to our own, with the further hope that they would cast their votes on important issues in ways which reflected their mindset and values. In these times however, our politicians seem to be destined to vote in one of two ways. The first is to cast their ballot in lockstep with either the Republican or Democratic Party and the second way is to float and vote or more eloquently put; they cast their vote in a manner, which reflects the wishes and desires of the multitudes of citizens whom they represent.

The first is what leads us to a government paralyzed by partisan politics. Nothing gets done because neither side wants to make the other side look good. In fact, they want the other side to look BAD! Then they can blame all of the country’s problems on the other side. This relieves them of the responsibility to act while paving the way for their next proliferation of campaign propaganda and promises. George Washington is looking more and more visionary in his prediction that political parties would lead to diving our nation.

The second type of vote is just as dangerous as and potentially more divisive than the first. IN the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson cautioned us against changing our government for transient causes. The Will of the People fluctuates far too much to decide important issues which will have impact for decades if not centuries. Furthermore, worse than that is the probability that such issues could divide not just congress, but the entire country!

Now, let’s get back to that classroom in 2000 for a moment. I warned my students that our country would be attacked within a year because we had shown the world that we were very much divided. We remain today a divided nation, having forgotten that our unity is what makes us great. I believe that the recent film “National Treasure” restated the premise that before the civil war our country was referred to as “these” United States and it wasn’t until after the civil war that the country was regularly referred to as “The” United States of America. In fact, President Obama recently concluded his remarks at a gathering in Newtown with the phrase, “God Bless These United States.”

This is the time for a nation to come together as one. Even if only in the recognition that we cannot let the status quo stand while the lives of those most precious to our nation are in jeopardy. Nothing should be rejected out of hand, because every suggestion is coming from another setting at the table. Whatever action is proposed should be put forth only after careful consideration with the forethought that it WILL be challenged in court and in public. And while it would be best to have agreement, it is not possible to make everyone unhappy. Nor would it be prudent to pass a law, which is impractical to enforce. Passing a law that is not enforced encourages inaction, the exact opposite of leadership. Leadership is defined by words and action, not action alone. It was Poor Richard who said, “Haste makes Waste.” Therefore let us not pass just anything. Let us mend our hearts and minds with meaningful measures.

I truly believe that President Obama (not MY president, the president of the democrats, minorities, black, white old, young etc.), OUR President is fully capable of leading us to consensus on measures that are practical, reasonable and likely to help prevent such tragedies, be they in a school, theater, shopping mall, house of worship or anywhere else.

This means that we have to be willing to be led. All of us need to lay down the affiliations we carry which would mandate reluctance, interference or outright refusal to cooperate. Any organization, political or otherwise, led by someone who downright refuses to be open to such measures designed to protect our safety and security needs to seriously reconsider their choice of leaders. I would love nothing more than to be able to be OOC as I demonstrate to my students that it is unity that makes great The United States of America, “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Karl E. Bruckner