I wonder about things, especially in the quiet hours of a still afternoon. 

I recall the words of poet William Butler Yates: “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

Those bleak words, from the Irishman’s poem “The Second Coming,” seem written especially for us in our time. Things are falling apart. There is no unity, no will, no effort to remain united. 

Thus, I sit and wonder about our country continuing to shatter into pieces. We all know what a mess we’re in, and it’s getting worse. There are no easy solutions.

Why do we sit back and allow our politics to become so dysfunctional, so mean, so hurtful? It seems we have morphed into the dis-United States. 

Why can’t our elected leaders be representatives of decency and unity, instead of instigators of discord and dis-unity? Why can’t they try to find compromises?

Why must all of us be so argumentative all the time? Getting along, showing respect — both seem so easy, yet we shove them aside in favor of arguing and disagreeing, even ugly name-calling.  

Can our nation ever be whole again? Will we ever return to respecting each other’s views and opinions without shouting and bullying?

So, I wonder on…while the center groans and cracks. And I ask questions both serious and silly.

Can men ever keep their hands off women? Respecting has got to replace groping.

Has Judge Brett Kavanaugh been around long enough to hold a keg party at the Supreme Court building? And did The Donald attend the beer bash? 

We all consume far too much alcohol. Beer is now celebrated as our national drink. Alcohol fuzziness may contribute to our jagged mental state. 

And why is Vice President Mike Pence always quiet? Is he shy about speaking in public? I see him standing silently behind the talkative Donald each time the TV cameras are rolling. Sometimes I see him frown and bow his head.

I wonder about the special investigator Robert Mueller, who never utters a word in public. Does he even speak to his wife when he gets home from his Justice Dept. office in the evening?

I wonder about the red MAGA caps and why some want to wear them while others want to knock them off their heads. I shake my head in confusion.

And why do so many politicians and cable TV news anchors wear hair pieces? Bald is beautiful, so what are they trying to hide?

Can there ever be a good reason to shut down our federal government? I can’t think of one. It’s upsetting when our political leaders act like spoiled brats. Loyal workers are treated like pawns in a selfish chess game of power.

I wonder if the New England Patriots ever get tired of celebrating. Year after year, all that money spent on strutting and showboating. The Super Bowl take could feed the hungry around the world for a full year.

And the stock market. The averages swing up and down each business day. Will they ever be steady or normal again?

Will our military men and women know from day to day what country they’re in and what enemies they’re fighting? Even our leaders cannot agree. 

These are troubling, perplexing thoughts, without answers.

Our Christian denominations also are under siege. The Catholics struggle with priests who molest children and nuns, while the Methodists are at the brink of a breakup over the same-sex issue.

It seems there is a crisis at every turn in our time, a time like no other in our history. 

The questions go unanswered. The arguments grow larger and louder. It is a time of tears and a time of sorrow. 

John Kennedy said the U.S. never faced a problem or a challenge that it did not overcome or could not resolve.

By working together, we made it through serious issues in his time, including the very real possibility of our first nuclear war. Through diplomatic skill, with calm nerves and calm words, war was averted.

Quoting the words of novelist H.G. Wells, Kennedy said, “The first person who raises a fist is the person who has run out of ideas.”

What happened to ideas? Why were they replaced with “my way or the highway?”

A united Congress and a president with ideas led us through the very dangerous Cuban missile crisis. A for-sure war with Russia was averted.

We lack the ability to come together in our time. And so we raise the fists. We’ve allowed bullying to replace brainstorming. And bullies have replaced calm leaders.

We tend to admire the person with the clenched fist more than the person with the outstretched hand.

We prefer division over every issue, and that preference cuts squarely against our very name — the United States of America.

Ralph Morris is a retired newspaperman who lives near Auburn. His email address is r.morris@ctvea.net.

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