I am only a news junkie, not college-educated in politics or international affairs but as a Baby Boomer, and a Jewish one at that—who knows how and where her family came from and the sacrifices they made to make the harrowing journey to America—and like you, have seen over many years all the horrific events that have dropped us to our knees.
Each time we glue our eyes to our TVs, our hearts scream out in pain, “Oh My G-d!” “How could this happen?” “This has to end!” and, of course, the inevitable, “WHY?”
But as Baby Boomers, I can safely say that the past two years have brought us to the forefront of really not believing what we are seeing! I feel like a kid, hiding my face in the security of my Dad’s arms, while watching the very popular TV show of our childhood, The Twilight Zone, plus almost laughing at the scenarios of the outrageous book by George Orwell, 1984.
Scenarios that looked plausible, but certainly, not likely to ever happen! And yet, some of our scariest Twilight Zone-like fears and science-fiction like state-of-affairs have become some of today’s news headlines!
What do we do with these everyday events?
Are you afraid of the road our democracy is traveling as I am?
Do you suddenly wonder what kind of country/world our grandkids will be living in when we’re gone?
Do we have to be an on-going record of telling them, “In the old days…”?
Is America turning a corner that may take generations to find its way back to civility?
After the shooting that took place in the Maryland newsroom, I heard a voice in my head ask, “Is the president of the United States okay that it occurred in a newsroom?” Isn’t that awful? But I can’t help but wonder if those were his thoughts because of his incredible attitude towards the media. (And as reported, when reporters asked him that day about the shooting taking place at a newspaper, he did not give an answer. Silence says volumes. And it took a week for him to lower the flag to half-mast. Awful.)
I am heartbroken at where the United States of America is heading and wonder what we can do to change the direction—BESIDES VOTE, of course! But I feel helpless and at a loss. I fear for the future.
Now my thoughts go back to Twilight Zone and 1984 and I wonder if there is a bigger force trying to dismantle the role of democracy? Are we in a Constitutional Crisis? Questions not easily answered but how can our minds not run wild? We have seen too much to not be in fear for our freedom.
I recently saw an AMAZING theater performance, Soft Power, that has not yet come to Broadway (San Francisco is always a preview market) and as much as I loved Hamilton, no play with song and dance has ever rocked me off my seat questioning our system of democracy! There is a musical number with the Supreme Court justices who in thorough, simple English explain our election system—popular vote and the Electoral College—that made me feel it is the stupidest, craziest structure/method/technique/procedure EVER!! Can we get rid of the Electoral College? The take-away line from the show is: DEMOCRACY WILL BREAK YOUR HEART! And as I set the stage for the story, don’t knock it till you’ve seen it, it has value in its message:
The show takes place in early 2016 before our election: Chinese play-write wants to collaborate for a TV show with an American-born Chinese play-write but they argue over “words” in each of their scripts that will offend each country’s feelings and morals. They can’t find common ground. Chinese play-write meets Hillary at a fund raiser and they discuss their cultural differences and decide they can learn from each other—the Chinese think we need to govern with more heart, kindness and love (soft power) while Hillary says we need more democracy (hard power). The musical continues with the argument from both sides.
REAL LIFE, November 8, 2016: The amazing part of the play is that when Hillary LOST the election, the writers had to go back and rewrite the entire second act because it was based on her winning the election! Can you imagine? It’s one thing when most of us thought that Hillary winning was a sure thing and we were crushed at the results but to spend four years writing a political musical based on the first female president and then to be blown away that your ending was out the window and you had to go back to the drawing board and create story, dialogue, song and dance about the unnerving person who did win!
The writers felt the turn of events, and in the long-run for theatrical purposes, the second act turned out to be more thought-provoking, asking of more questions with hopes of dialogue and debate. And, currently, each day before performances, the cast may have to change lines in order to keep up with the daily news so the show is relevant.
The three main actors are amazing and the two male leads are familiar TV actors. I had a chance to go backstage and have full-on conversations with them about the show and its meaning in our everyday lives. I was in awe at how humble the two male leads were about their participation in such an important message they could bring to the stage, plus it was an opportunity for a majority Asian cast. One actor commented that it gives him personal insight into the direction of our country and with sadness, he said, “It scares me.”
It should scare all of us. How do we reconcile the president taking thousands of children away from their parents just to prove a political point by bullying people who are running for their lives? How do we reconcile the president praising leaders of countries who abuse their most valuable resource, their people? How do we reconcile the president’s consistent lying?
How is it conveyed to our kids/grandkids the worth of democracy, values, morals, kindness and love if our leaders do not set a high level of examples for the people of this country?
WE MUST SET THE EXAMPLE AND WE MUST TEACH THEM our Jewish values, heritage and ethics so they have a standard to learn from. We must tell them the stories of how their family got here, what sacrifices they made, what lessons and consequences they learned along the way. And WE MUST TEACH THEM how important it is to be educated and VOTE so our democracy will never be undermined.
As Jewish Baby Boomers, we have seen/experienced a lot. Our legacy is to TEACH the next generations so they never forget what America stands for: FREEDOM. DEMOCRACY. EQUALITY.
G-d Bless America, its history as learning tools and the values it was created on.