By Abe Villarreal
In our short and often tumultuous history, there have been dramatic highs and lows that are often bookended with words as powerful as the moments themselves.
Today, at this moment in 2017, there are dark clouds on the horizon and we are waiting to hear powerful words. The kind of words that give us reassurance when we are confused. The kind that mean something when they are spoken with authenticity and truth.
Future classroom textbooks will tell the history of our time in much of the same way they tell of the civil rights era of the 1960s. Kids will learn about marches. They will see images of passionate people, yelling at each other – I’m right and you’re wrong. Less and less can we understand each other.
At a time when we see our neighbors, our countrymen, standing and staring at each other with anger and high emotions, we are waiting for a unifier, a man in power, to let us know that there is a way forward for everyone.
There are always two sides and two points of views. But sometimes they are not equal. Not even close. When one side is wearing white hoods and holding symbols that reflect the darkest moments in our history, there is little chance of moral equivalency.
Yes, this is 2017 and there are men in white hoods trying to hold on to relevance. The final remnants of a time in history, which we had forgotten.
Unfortunately for us, the man with the bully pulpit is failing to give us clarity. He is assumed to represent the conscience of a nation, and yet his words are something we don’t understand and to which we often disagree.
We are looking for a Churchill, a Reagan, a Lincoln; with a strong and positive voice. We are looking for a Mother Theresa, a Martin Luther King Jr. A soft and tender tone.
Today we have a loud and consistent drumbeat of absoluteness. The message is not clear. There is no gray and no in-between. Words are losing their meaning.
Olive branches are nowhere in sight. People are not shaking hands or sharing hugs. We all want to stand our ground. Understanding what we don’t know is not so fashionable anymore.
It seems we are heading towards a climactic moment. The man in charge has lit a fire, and the nation as a whole is feeling the heat. Many of the cooks have left the kitchen, leaving the decider-in-chief a man often alone. He’s deciding, and saying, the things he thinks we represent as individuals and communities. But the words seem strange and distant. Washington D.C. feels like a far away place.
Most of the time we ignore the inside-the-beltway gossip. This time, it’s a drip, drip, drip, and the Potomac River is flowing in all directions, carrying the vitriol and hatred that we expect to come from the kind of places we try to avoid, not the nation’s capital.
Words are powerful tools used by powerful people. The problem today is that we do not hear the kinds of words we expect to hear in challenging times of turmoil. From top to bottom, everyone sounds the same.
Abe Villarreal is the Director of Communications at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.