Dean Minnich: Let’s get rid of some traditions | COMMENTARY

Dean Minnich: Let’s get rid of some traditions | COMMENTARY

“Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures, yet he’s potentially more vicious than any other. He is the only one who can be persuaded to hate millions of his own kind whom he has never even seen and to kill as many as he can … in the name of his tribe or his god.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998)

This is a proper place to pause as we keep one eye on the carnage in the world and the celebratory chaos of the holiday seasons. Let’s have another eggnog before we watch more babies being pulled from the rubble of bombed buildings.

Joy to the world? Not in the Holy Land. Not in Ukraine, or the African continent. Not for those whose lives are played out in desperation so deep that hope is about surviving a night and finding a meal.

If my cynicism jars you on the day before we all plan to drink to a Happy New Year, let me reassure you that the traditions mentioned above will not be yanked away like a rug under tipsy dancers. There will be plenty of opportunities during 2024 to live both up to — and down to — the description of humanity’s ambivalence. Inhumane humanity.

We’ve only just begun. In case you haven’t been reminded enough, we have some electing to do in 2024. And some courtroom drama and spin-doctoring across a panoply of media interpretations of definitions of fact and ludicrous allegations of truth.

The Big Lie is nothing new. Empires and religions have required them to take root in the rocky soils of credibility and pernicious weeds of destruction. That’s why I have not given up on mainstream media. We need the pros to counter the propagandists.

I knew we were in for some bad times when I heard ordinary, everyday Americans — people who think of themselves as good Americans and good people — say they like Donald Trump because he says what they think. That tells me the pernicious roots were not planted by Trump.

He just feeds them and finds support in those who fear being forced to share and perhaps even defend their own versions of history with people who would have a different take on history and the future.

We have arrived here at the gates of 2024 painfully aware that we might not be, as the pledge of allegiance asserts, “One nation, under God …” and that the definition of justice for all is not all that easy to pin down, either.

We know that, and we want judges and political representatives who will lean toward the definitions most convenient to our own experiences and ambitions when there is any argument about what is law.

The problem is that America has more judges defining law than seeking justice. Law is easy; justice is hard.

America has more elected representatives than it has representatives who serve the public interest. More financial backers for those wielding power than empowerment to those needing some investment by the government.

People talk about traditions as if they are virtues, but not all of them are. Buying votes, preserving the status quo for the entitled and comfortable, keeping a lid on dissent to authority as a means to continue racism and unwarranted privilege — these are traditions that have strong support by and for dictatorships.

Better ideals that are traditional include integrity and fair play. Honesty and observance of legal standards in business and social endeavors. Compromise of details while standing firm on ethics, transparency of intent and rationale in the presentation of arguments looking for the greater good.

This new year will test our ideals, but if we’re honorable and diligent, we’ll come out on the other side of 2024 with our essential democracy intact and our national character redeemed. We will conscientiously ensure equal opportunities for all, not just the most ruthless, the most connected, powerful and self-serving.

That’s a better definition of our stated tradition of liberty.

Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.

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