This morning I awoke to the remnants of a misty sunrise. Every morning during the week begins with the ritual of clothes, cats and coffee. Throwing on a T-shirt and shorts, just enough clothes to not be embarrassed when I walk the dog, I grabbed the empty water glasses and headed downstairs. As usual, the cats raced me to the front door, eager to begin their daylong adventure of hunt, nap and play. I held the water glasses tightly to my chest with one hand as I pushed open the door with the other to let the cats out.
That was when I first saw it – a grayish, green glow hanging over the wooded yard, like a curtain of mourning veils, subduing the usual summer chroma of suburban yards and street and sky. “Hmmm,” I told the cats as they leapt through the doorway, “Strange looking morning.” They must have thought so too because they stopped for a moment as soon as they got outside and took in the muted light.
It was not until I took the dog out for her walk more than an hour after sunrise, that I really felt the heavy shadows that the dawn had yet to lift. True, it stormed during the night, but that only partly explains why it looked that way. This was not the kind of golden summer glistening that one usually sees after a big rain. It was a surreal glow.
I wondered how America glowed today. The odd morning light seemed to me a metaphor for the unreal optimism that has been demonstrated by the president in talking about the Gulf Coast’s recovery or the upbeat Rumsfeld talking about how great things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan. Somehow, this country’s leaders (sadly they are our leaders by default, if not by choice) have begun a new newspeak campaign, coloring the bad news with a rosy glow that is usually reserved for partisan sports announcers praising an incompetent player or team.
That they try to tell us that something good is happening when we know it’s not would not be so bad except that they begin to believe it themselves. They say, “We live in wonderful, peaceful, prosperous times” as if it’s an incantation, and just saying it makes it so. But like this morning’s weird light, it does not reflect the truth. It hearkens back to Hurricane Katrina and the fact that the federal government tried to say that everything was under control in New Orleans when it clearly was not. Michael “heckuva-job-brownie” Brown said as much yesterday on the Today Show, pointing out that in Washington, DC they actually believed everything was ok.
It’s the same with the economy, which really did not recover for the majority of Americans, and for the war in Iraq, where we never “turned a corner” and the mission is not accomplished.
The problem is people want to believe the deceptions, because it hurts to face the truth. That does not mean they don’t, at some level, know what the truth is. That’s why if we want to make a change, it will take more than just exposing the lies that everyone already knows are there (and it doesn’t help that most Americans believe that such misstatements are politically bipartisan).
In order to take back our country from those who would drive it into the ground while telling us we are soaring, we have to show we stand for everyone being successful, and we have a plan for it; that we stand for the United States being safe and we have a plan for it; that we are a true global partner for peace, and we have a plan for that.
Only by saying what changes we will make will those changes come to pass. It’s not magic; it’s commitment, and we must be fully engaged in making it real.