Tuesday January 21, 2020
Jul-02-2008 21:23TweetFollow @OregonNews
Op Ed: 'The Band Plays On'
By Henry Clay Ruark for Salem-News.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.
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.