Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost
- Haggai 1:15b–2:9
- Psalm 145:1-5, 18-21
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
- Luke 20:27-38
EDITOR’S NOTE: The German people tore down the Berlin Wall 30 years ago this week. The date was November 9, 1989.
America in Decline
Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?
It’s like the air went out of our balloon
in 1989. The last time
we were this self-absorbed
was during the Hoover presidency
before the great depression.
The stock market crashed
and there was a national failure
of imagination for three years.
FDR rallied our spirits
and asked us all to pull together
for the greater good.
Meanwhile, in Europe,
Hitler was on the march,
invading his neighbors.
He rounded up the Jews
and others who were not members
of the Aryan Master Race.
He sent innocents to death camps
and stole their properties.
When he threatened
to crush Great Britain,
America quietly lent a hand,
then jumped in with both feet
when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
one way or another,
in this national emergency,
and we won a two-ocean war.
After the war,
we helped to build
the enduring architecture
for international peace.
We did not back down
during the ascent of the Soviet Union,
but rose to the challenge.
At home, a single worker
could support his or her family.
Company presidents and CEOs
had modest lifestyles.
We enjoyed peace abroad
and prosperity at home.
America leaned into the sixties.
Descendants of Negro slaves
Half the population was female,
but women—who built the weapons
of war a few years earlier—
were unfairly treated in the workplace.
Asians incarcerated during the war
were told, “Sorry about that.”
Still, the country moved forward
as a unit.
We continued to have a sense
of national purpose.
This sense of national purpose
led us astray in the Vietnam War,
but it also enabled us to put
a man on the moon,
possibly the greatest achievement ever
by the American government.
It’s been 50 years since that moment.
After a presidential resignation
and the end of an unpopular war,
we lost faith in our leaders.
Some people were quick to say
government could do nothing right.
We elected a president to serve
as head of our government who said,
“Government is not the solution
to our problem;
government is the problem.”
This was the national mood
when the Soviet Union fell apart
in 1989—the year we lost our edge.
“We won!” was our triumphal coda.
We bought the popular idea
that unrestrained capitalism
was superior to any kind
of government planning.
So here we are today:
the moon landing plus 50 years.
We are ruled by a reality TV star
who never reads anything,
who only cares about money
and his brand.
His mouth is a firehose of insults.
The common good means nothing to him.
Congress wallows in paralysis.
People reading their phones
bump into each other on the streets.
post their hateful messages
on the internet.
The captains of industry
reap outrageous sums of money
while two-income families
are on food stamps.
Does it really take a national crisis
to bring us together again—
another great depression,
a war for our very survival,
a space race,
an ideological struggle?
Can’t we the people
with clear minds and kind hearts,
men and women of every origin,
come together naturally
for the good of the country?
America is in decline,
but it is not too late
for a new, inspired zenith.
NOTE: If you want to make a comment about the poetry or communicate with me, please email me at email@example.com. Thank you.
November 10, 2019