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Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York

The Honeymoon is Over

Willie Kiernan
By Willie Kiernan Contributing Columnist

Monday, November 12, 2012

They say, after disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, there is a romance period when everybody gets together and pitches in. The president embraces the governor who visits the mayor who commends the community leaders who begin to address the unforgiving emergency situation. Everyone bands together and American unity lives on.

After about three days, the food in the fridge goes bad and the gas runs out. Appointments can’t be kept, prescriptions can’t be filled and the laundry needs attention. The furniture is at the curb, the boats are on the lawn, the trees are on the houses and the clean-up has yet to begin. The insurance papers are gone, if there were any, and any hope of rebuilding lingers heavily as a distinct impossibility.

Now the cameras are focused elsewhere, like on a Presidential election.

In a democracy of about 300 million, only about one third of the population vote. The winning party gathers little more than half of that vote, which adds up to about one sixth of the overall population. Right now, that’s the segment of society controlling the cameras.

President Obama suggested that we once again become a nation that looks out for each other, a notion that has been thrown around from the Roosevelts to Eisenhower. This is something that’s been missing in our modern, dog-eat-dog world of unparalleled personal wealth and drawing lines in the sand.

Outspoken radio talk show preachers have become rich waving the flag of us against them. Xenophobes of yesteryear would cringe over such incestuous barbarianism. And word on the street is, since the debacle of the election, the conservatives and the Republicans are going to start chewing on their own tails to separate themselves from the failure of their politics without relinquishing the folly of many of their outdated and onerous supplications.

Though the President applauded both parties of voters in particular, he also seems to harbor a strong concern for the disenfranchised, the hopeless, the immigrants and the children, or the other two thirds of the national population. In fact, his interest in the welfare of others seems to transcend the country’s political boundaries, to blanket all of the forlorn and destitute souls of the world.

Obama took office after the disaster. He organized the recovery, directed the life boats and got the country back on its feet. There is still a clean up to be completed and the long and arduous task of rebuilding an America to an even stronger and more prosperous standard of living. He is the man for the job, but there needs to be many more.

In the future, there lies a peace that the world has never seen as more and more countries get stronger and govern their people with fairness, tolerance and an acceptance of all who want nothing but to live and to let live. This is a future that will grow and build upon itself. This is the vision that every decent person must pursue. And if you believe in a God, this is the path that God would have us take that leads to a safe peace, a beautiful harmony and the everlasting survival of the human spirit.

Whether we are of this world or the next, or the one beyond that, it’s this one that needs our help right now. The oppressed need freedom, the homeless need shelter, the hungry need food and the lonely need friends. The upcoming relentless banding together and pitching in is essential. And though the attainment of such ends may tire us with blisters on our backs, calluses will grow as the vapors of good will breathe a magical energy anew resulting in a tall standing pride and worthiness for this idyllic land and life we have been called upon to steward.

I grew up in the harbor on the south side of Long Island, where Hurricane Sandy recently visited with a fierce craving for destruction never before seen in the area. Many have had to endure the random and comprehensive wrath of the storm, from the men and women to the elderly and the children, the black and the white, the birther and the foreigner, the Jew and the Muslim, the Republican and the Democrat, the wealthy and the worker, the straight and the gay, the junkie and the abstinent, the yin and the yang and everybody in between. It hits me because it’s so close to home, but it also shames me because I never cared as much for all the other victims through history, for they are my neighbors and family as well, in the whole world, which is my real home.

I know someone who has lost her electricity, heat, furniture and house to the flood. She lost her car, her job and all her clothes. She has no insurance. She stays with strangers, friends of her daughter, and cries herself to sleep every night. Though I don’t personally have the wherewithal to physically be there, I count myself as one of those strangers. If it’s the grace of God that protects me, what is it that refuses to spare her and all the others? Perhaps God can only afford so much grace and it’s up to us take it from here.

May the realm of spirit abide in us and allow us to embrace, with the capacity of giants, all which is good. Let us focus our cameras on the needy and not on the lines in the sand. And let us recall our honeymoon as a new genesis and the beginning of a higher level of existence. American unity will go from a rallying cry to our legacy, because, hey, it was a hell of a honeymoon, but it’s over. It’s time to move in together.

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