, Gloucester, MA

December 26, 2012

Insights and Outbursts: No time to be digging in our heels

Insights and Outbursts
Eileen Ford

---- — An article in the Dec. 10 issue of the Jesuit Magazine America stressed the need to find common ground instead of concentrating on our differences.

“Praying for Peace on Both Sides of the Border” communicated the plight of the Catholic community in the Israeli city of Beersheba, after “more than 20 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the city.” The Rev. Yoel Salvaterra spoke for both Jews and Palestinians: “Our prayers have no borders. We know we are suffering here and they are suffering there. It is just suffering.”

In the United States, we’re not yet shooting rockets at each other, but we’re firing accusations and hiding behind excuses, speaking and listening only to those who agree with us.

If you continually watch MSNBC or FOX, you’re convinced that Democrats are right and Republicans wrong – or vice-versa. Those who watch C-SPAN’s Washington Journal (7 a.m. to 10 a.m., 7 days a week on cable channel 69, or online at any time) or the PBS Newshour (6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday on WGBH) receive in-depth explanations of issues rather than justifications of their own prejudices.

We need clarification, not excuses. If both parties dig in their heels and refuse to compromise, the losers will be everyone who believes that responsible government practices are crucial to the well-being of this nation.

Those who worry about the debt their children and grandchildren will inherit are right to be concerned, but where were they when the costs of two wars were passed on to the next generation? Both Democrats and Republicans stood by while tax cuts were passed for the first time in our history while at war and both parties participated in bailing out financial institutions deemed “too big to fail,” while ignoring those too small to notice.

Neither party can afford to take any bows right now. The fiscal cliff was created by politicians and can be fixed by politicians, but only if they stop spinning the truth about what we need in this country: cooperation, not complaints; a desire to resolve our problems rather than destroying the opposition; and equally important, praying for peace in our own country as well as for Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Mideast.

We are at a crucial point in our nation and one way we can help is to let go of the animosity and triumphalism of the election and find ways to work together.

On Dec. 17. I was listening to the Diane Reim show on NPR about the CT shooting. It concerned gun control and mental illness but Diane also read an e-mail from someone named “Shawn” revealing another danger:

“America — love it or leave it — the 2nd amendment rules — don’t tread on me — there’s a black man in the White House — circle the wagons — we want our guns and our God — praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”

We’re still recovering from the death of innocent children and their teachers in Connecticut. Let’s not wait for rockets to be fired — let’s start talking and listening to each other as we pray for peace in our own country right now.

Eileen Ford is a Rockport resident and a regular Times columnist.