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July 23, 2019

7/10/2019 8:41:00 PM
Room for a View: America, the Not So Beautiful. (A Story)
By Charles Wilkinson


A summer intern from the Daily Northwestern approaches me as I wait curbside for the start of the July 4th parade. “Got a minute?” she asks. “Sure,” I reply, with a smile that says I know what is coming.

“I’m a Daily intern at NU and am wondering what people are thinking about our country these days.” She squats, notebook on knee, waiting with raised eyebrows.

“And you’re asking me?” I say. Her response is a nod. “That’s a big question, but I’m happy to reply. Short answer? I’m worried.”

No response, so I go on. “But I believe we’ll get through. This country’s greatness is solid. Its still-young history has had its rough spots, but its people have never stopped trying to smooth them out. The American mind is generally healthy, its heart stronger than ever. Both will get us through what’s happening in Washington.”

“Which is...?” Raised eyebrows again. Good interviewer.

“I’m not hearing the voice of the America I believe.

“Greed. And the abuse of power. Politics we’ll always have with us, but something worse is happening at the highest levels of our government.”

More of the raised eyebrows.

“Arrogance. A myopic view of this country and the world-at-large. A crassness that insults and ignores and maybe can’t even know the heart of America.”

“Examples?”

“A long list. What’s happening at our borders; brackish water seeking its own level in our dealings with North Korea, Iran, Syria and Russia; the language, tweets, denials and bullying – the lack of moral values, decency and transparency.

”If you’re wanting particulars, check out the detention centers in Texas, the fake news accusations about the media, the chaos of climate change assaulting all of us, the lack of solutions for racism and violence, the bellicose posturing on the 4th of July...”

“I get the picture,” the intern says. “Pretty grim to you, isn’t it.”

“Sure, but it’s not all bad,” I reply. “This administration is a wakeup call for all of us, letting us know we’ve a long way to go. Our checks and balances are still pretty much in place, though gerrymandering and voter access at the polling places are concerns. We’re learning we still need to tame technology, social media especially; that the power and credibility of women deserve respect; that the economy is only one measure of the quality of our lives; that the chasm between the haves and have nots is obscene; and that we the people need to make better choices about values 

A summer intern from the Daily Northwestern approaches me as I wait curbside for the start of the July 4th parade. “Got a minute?” she asks. “Sure,” I reply, with a smile that says I know what is coming.

“I’m a Daily intern at NU and am wondering what people are thinking about our country these days.” She squats, notebook on knee, waiting with raised eyebrows.

“And you’re asking me?” I say. Her response is a nod. “That’s a big question, but I’m happy to reply. Short answer? I’m worried.”

No response, so I go on. “But I believe we’ll get through. This country’s greatness is solid. Its still-young history has had its rough spots, but its people have never stopped trying to smooth them out. The American mind is generally healthy, its heart stronger than ever. Both will get us through what’s happening in Washington.”

“Which is...?” Raised eyebrows again. Good interviewer.

“I’m not hearing the voice of the America I believe.

“Greed. And the abuse of power. Politics we’ll always have with us, but something worse is happening at the highest levels of our government.”

More of the raised eyebrows.

“Arrogance. A myopic view of this country and the world-at-large. A crassness that insults and ignores and maybe can’t even know the heart of America.”

“Examples?”

“A long list. What’s happening at our borders; brackish water seeking its own level in our dealings with North Korea, Iran, Syria and Russia; the language, tweets, denials and bullying – the lack of moral values, decency and transparency.

”If you’re wanting particulars, check out the detention centers in Texas, the fake news accusations about the media, the chaos of climate change assaulting all of us, the lack of solutions for racism and violence, the bellicose posturing on the 4th of July...”

“I get the picture,” the intern says. “Pretty grim to you, isn’t it.”

“Sure, but it’s not all bad,” I reply. “This administration is a wakeup call for all of us, letting us know we’ve a long way to go. Our checks and balances are still pretty much in place, though gerrymandering and voter access at the polling places are concerns. We’re learning we still need to tame technology, social media especially; that the power and credibility of women deserve respect; that the economy is only one measure of the quality of our lives; that the chasm between the haves and have nots is obscene; and that we the people need to make better choices about values and leadership.”

A long silence while she writes in her notebook. Then I ask, “Glad you asked?”

“You’re not alone from what I’ve been hearing today,” she smiles, rising.

“Welcome to Evanston,” I say.







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