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Jul-02-2008 21:23printcomments

Op Ed: 'The Band Plays On'
But Do We Hear The Real Music?

Democracy dies without citizen attention and action.

Courtesy: domainnamenews.com

(EUGENE, Ore.) - "...And the band played on"... That familiar phrase --from “the Titanic-disaster when the band played while the ship sank”-- very precisely pronounces our current status re patriotism true to American principles, on July 4th 2008 --well into the 21st Century.

We hear the music --meant to reassure us-- and we seek out any possible lifeboat, as the ship sinks; with similar results for far too many passengers.

We are very chary about DOING what proves up our real and true devotion to the nation AND its Founding Principles: Making sure the ship does NOT sink --and that our captain knows an iceberg when it towers over us.

Some insist these days on constant check on each other to see who is wearing the pin or carrying out other similar total irrelevancies --while the ship is truly sinking.

'The pin' is symbolic of our past, comforting as it may be, from which we MUST learn; but it does not represent our future, which is still open to what we can now make of it; to achieve what our Founders felt we could, should and must, some day.

Of all around them then, those prescient people leading our Founder group understood that it truly takes time --much of it for many decades-- to make any nation. That’s WHY they built in those many safeguards now found so carefully embedded in each and every part of our Constitution --most in very plain English, too.

That’s WHY we must now demand full-attention and full responsibility from each and every participating citizen --once again, as the Founders intended to happen from Day One of our Constitutional era.

We need to pay strict, strong, full attention to what’s really happening in-and-TO our nation NOW--and then do what we learn we MUST DO soon: To rescue what we once had, remedy what went wrong, and resume our true “American exceptional” tune for all the world to hear-- AGAIN.

Earlier today, a student band practicing for their 4th of July parade went cadencing and concerting past my front door --loudly: Every one of those intense-and-proud participants was 'in tune, in step, and in line' with each other one. NO band can succeed, otherwise.

That’s rational, reasonable cooperation in close harmony and loud actual action --for mutually very satisfying and strongly motivating results.

We teach our children that "to get along, they must learn to go along" --while not sacrificing their own unique contributions to the overall demanded-product.

Then practical learning-and-working experience expands that lesson --rapidly, if sometimes painfully-- to help them learn it is never achieved except by team-play, and without bad-naming "the other team" person-by-person simply for any opposition effort in the game.

YET we allow head-on confrontation and unbridled, unprincipled contempt to 'needle' --and sometimes silence-- our 'essential dissenters' in our own most essentially important, principled, accountable, and surely now-demanded role of citizen responsibility: Understanding issues, problems, actions for the commonweal.

That’s WHY our Founders wrote --as their FIRST Amendment-- the right to free and open expression of speech, political or other, supported and strengthened by protection of the press, to play its protected --and thus responsible and accountable-- major role in our democracy.

The current climate of constant campaigning for malignly selfish political purposes often thus negates the democratic dialog that can and must build cogent cooperation.

Our forebears --following the Founders’ clear intention-- built up the party system, to support, strengthen and guide creation of consensus for cooperative democratic action: The very first essential principle of democracy. Famed educator John Dewey described democracy as a basic conversation leading to cooperative action. His image is one of a responsible citizen learning from ongoing dialog, with each citizen contributing to common community understanding; to see clearly, then “surround” via dialog, to settle issues, problems, and actions for potentially potent events by mutual contribution and cooperation.

NOT incidentally, that’s the openly understood basic principle for any and all representative assemblies; each kind-and-level set forth and empowered to consider, conciliate, compromise and complete whatever is demanded for the commonweal.

It is on that firm foundation --rapidly recognized by our Founders from their mutual (and cooperative) exploration of centuries-long philosophical learnings-- on which they chose to create our original Revolution; then eventually creating our unique world-famed Constitution and Bill of Rights.

It’s worth noting here that their essential group cooperation, via the Federalist Papers, was the creative result of dialogs “demanding close attention, combined and concentrated cogitation, and coherent combination of what they learned --together.”

Mutually and magnificently, what they then brought forth has become recognized as the very essence of the most potent principle for a people’s governance ever compounded: “Consent of the governed” and “concentrated attention” on what then follows.

Lincoln put the heart-of-the-matter succinctly: “Of the people, by the people, FOR the people”.

But it was Ben Franklin who put it in even more-modern terms: “We must hang together, or surely we will hang separately.”

What they were both telling us AGAIN as did the Founders in our Constitution is: 'We can make beautiful music TOGETHER.'

If we still have the wit, wisdom and will to do so.


Reader’s Note:
Quotes are shortened, summarized, combined for space reasons; verbatim record available on request with ID to Editor. Many sources, most from writer’s files, were used for this Op Ed.

Among those most valuable were:
1. TIME Magazine (7/7/08): “The Real Meaning of Patriotism”; Peter Beinart; Johm McCain;Barack Obama.

2. NATION Magazine (6/30/08): Special Issue:The New Inequality; pp. 11-32; Empire or Republic ?; Robert Scheer; p. 4.

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Henry Ruark July 6, 2008 8:07 am (Pacific time)

To all: Best "music" I heard on 4th was hometown parade right at my corner...more than 150 units, 4-5,000 AMERICANS all watching in ten-block area, and MARCHING BANDS, including that one in Op Ed... Beautiful to see (people I mean !), and tear-jerking for old geek... But the kind of music I saw among that crowd tells me there are millions just like that, awaiting leadership to take us BACK to Constitutional principles upmoded to 21st Century...and make sure our American "rises again !" -- to become what the Founders first envisioned, now lost... We will surely overcome...

Henry Ruark July 5, 2008 2:10 pm (Pacific time)

Do YOU need still "other voices" than mine ? Here's Bob Herbert, NY Times, today: "This year’s presidential election is the perfect opportunity to place the truth before the American public in the form of a realistic examination of the state of the nation, and an honest consideration of creative ideas for moving forward. Instead, we’re getting hour after hour and day after day of trivia: Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s patriotic? Who’s not? "Mr. Boren(David Boren, former Senator, now president U/Oklahoma) believes that the combination of unrestrained partisanship and the corrosive influence of big money have all but paralyzed the political process. He worries about the neglect of the nation’s infrastructure, about the growing divide between the very wealthy and everyone else, and about “the catastrophic drop in the way the rest of the world views us.” "The U.S., with its enormous economic and military power, is still better-positioned than any other country to set the standards for the 21st century. But that power and leadership potential were not granted by divine right and cannot be wasted indefinitely. "Patriotism has its place. But waving a flag is never a good substitute for serious thought and rolling up one’s sleeves." (Excerpt is end/part; see entire page for real impact, on NY Times website.)

Henry Ruark July 5, 2008 1:46 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Would be remiss in mission here to neglect sharing this one, too: "We are drowning in the "impostures of pretended patriotism," used to cover the lies that got us into Iraq, the defense of torture and the violation of our basic liberties. In the name of patriotism, we presume a God-given American right to reorder the world to our liking, masking the vice of unfettered greed as an obligation of national security. "Any doubts as to this later governing impulse of our imperial ambitions were shattered with the recent news that U.S. advisers to our puppet government in the Green Zone of occupied Iraq have worked out agreements for American oil companies to gain control of Iraqi oil fields. But, then again, what did we expect when we elected a Texas oil hustler, and a failed one at that, to be our president?" (From Ribert Scheer, famed editor/reporter, at www.alternet.org/module/printversion/90414

Henry Ruark July 4, 2008 4:01 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Don't miss Tim's intense and totally true report currently running, titled PRISONER, above. It "turns up the volume on that music we DON'T hear" in precise and checkable terms. For the record, neither of us discussed any part of either this Op Ed OR his report in advance of publication here --and we often disagree, too, always on democratic (read "civilized") levels, learning as-we-go !

Henry Ruark July 3, 2008 10:32 am (Pacific time)

To all: For two excellent "see with own eyes" additional strong statements here are the easy-access links. What Patriotism IS and is NOT; Michael Winship: www.consortiumnews/Print/2008/070308b.html and One New World, Two New Ideas; David Hackett Fisher: www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/opinion/03fischer.html SO see, think, and learn, as open, honest, democratic dialog is intended to make possible --so long as we do preserve OUR Constitution !!

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