Roger Marolt: Divided we free-fall | AspenTimes.com
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Roger Marolt: Divided we free-fall

Roger Marolt
Roger This

I don’t see how Trump can be reelected. I know we said the same thing four years ago, but this time is different. For one thing, it feels like Armageddon.

It is astonishing how we have deteriorated as a nation during the intermission between Trump’s greatest inauguration ever and now. The political bickering is as constant as it is venomous. Everything is fought along strict party lines on each side of no man’s land. Would anyone have believed we could have political division about surgical masks during a deadly pandemic? It is a joke so bad that nobody can fake a laugh.

As fun as it may have sounded in the voting booth four years ago, it turns out it’s not enjoyable at all to hate half the country all the time, especially when it is the exact same half every single time. The gymnasium for vigorous intellectual exercise has been closed for decontamination.

Secondly, who would have ever thought the American flag could become a divisive symbol? It is becoming the next big thing driving us apart. I don’t know how this has happened, but seemingly overnight, the Stars and Stripes feel like they have been hijacked by the extreme right.

While I am not yet afraid to see the flag flying over a government building, school or ballpark, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that seeing it displayed too prominently in other places makes me a little uncomfortable. I can’t exactly tell you why, and yet I know many understand.

I have a baseball cap from the high school team. It is a beautiful jet-black cap with a white-outlined black Aspen “A” on the front. It also has a large American Flag stitched on the back. When I occasionally wear it backwards with the flag prominently displayed, I worry I might be sending the wrong message.

We went into the woods last week and drove past a camper with a huge flag stretched across its side. It did not feel like a welcoming or a warm reminder of our freedom, nor do I feel it was displayed for that purpose. We kept on crawling up the jeep road looking for a safer-feeling place to sleep.

I don’t know. More and more the display of our flag feels like a dare to contradict its owner and a justification for them to punish you for disagreeing. I wish I could describe this better. It is heartbreaking because I do not feel the flag any longer stands solely for the noble ideals that thousands of men and women have flown it over, believing those ideals were worth dying for to bolster a better nation and world for all. More and more it seems used and abused to give faux validity to whatever idea the individual with the flag most prominently displayed comes up with for the benefit of only those in their club.

Thirdly, I believe most now understand that a great economy is sustained by more than tax cuts. Those only work until there is a crisis. Then we need a leader. Without one, what we end up with is what we have now — a divided country confused and trying to figure out how to cope while businesses, mostly small ones run by people we know, fail, millions remain unemployed, and prevailing inaction is held taut by fear of yielding to the common good.

Lastly, it feels like fewer of us are proud to be Americans. It is as if resting on laurels for too long has resulted in bed sores. We can count without fingers the countries that respect us. Everyone fears us except the ones who should. We set fewer good examples. We portray that it may be impossible to love anyone else on this planet, as we can’t even respect our neighbors across the street.

It is not disrespectful to be ashamed of what we have become. In fact, it is the self-awareness we need to turn things around. We must be honest with ourselves first. We need to look in the mirror and see what we are becoming, before it is too late.

The state of our union is not better today than it was four years ago, not even close. Whatever anyone thinks of our president, nobody can say he has brought our nation together. Far from it, he has driven us as far apart as perhaps at any point in our history. As obvious as it should be by simply reciting our very name, we have missed the point: Division is the greatest threat to our United Sates.

This far from being great again, for now Roger Marolt hopes America doesn’t get any worse. roger@maroltllp.com.


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