By Ian Wachstein
We live in a very complicated world, that’s for sure. I wish it were as easy as some Americans believe to ignore the negatives of our history and simply acknowledge, at all times, America’s greatness.
Growing up, as I did, during World War II, I was always certain of our greatness. And then a strange thing happened to me. I began to actually pay attention to our history. And with that occurrence, I discovered that, yes, we have done many great things during our American tenure, but we have done as many sad and inappropriate things as well.
The list of the negatives is a long one. It includes 300 years of slavery, a hundred years of segregation, our history of racism, our belief that we could use the tool of war to control and make other nations into mirrors of ourselves in ways that even the incredibly powerful British Empire could not do to our initial small 13 colonies.
As much as I disagree with Donald Trump, he recently said something with which I agreed. He said we’ve spent more than $3 trillion on two recent wars in the Middle East, which, in his opinion, has been a total waste. He added his view that we would have been so much better off if we had taken those same trillions of dollars and used it to repair and build up ourselves including our national infrastructure of roads and bridges.
There is a lot going on these days in my America that needs to be fixed. We were far more like a real United States, a real community, back in the 1940s and 1950s when we joined together to overcome serious challenges to our country. And while we went through our challenges back in that time, our people, as a whole, were doing so much better than they are today.
I have no easy answers as to what we need to do to meet our current challenges. I simply hope that we return to those days when it was more common for us all to act together, to sit down, plan, compromise and reach conclusions that would actually work for one and all of us.
This article first appeared in the Courier-Post (Camden County, NJ) on January 5, 2016