This world is a frightening place. As a human being living in this nation, each of us must worry about our possessions bankrupting us, our existence destroying the planet on which we live and our hearts slowly plotting to go on an extended vacation at the least opportune moment.
No one can argue that the world has not always been something to be viewed with trepidation by each tiny little person alive on it. Conventional wisdom of this day and age and country suggests, however, that the complexity of the world is something to be feared. Conflicting ideologies – the inevitable symptom of the differences inherent in humanity – are a threat to the triumph of the one we hold dear.
Thus, ever since the mythological founding of the country the most successful leaders have told over and over again the “Great Story of Good and Evil.” For Thomas Jefferson it was the right of the people to fight for their rights against institutions bent on destroying them. People were right and monolithic organizations were wrong, almost by default. Theodore Roosevelt noted the fundamental rightness of the nation’s overseas expansion and its role as a policeman of the hemisphere. Even Ronald Reagan told the nation that it was good and that it had one great enemy far away filled to bursting with evil.
We have fooled ourselves for 200 years. Ballot boxes are filled every four years with the names of those who promise to bring the country into a new epoch by doing nothing more than “bringing the government back to the people” or “leading from the position of the presidency with hope” or “taking the country back to greatness.” It doesn’t seem quite so scary then, does it? Not when television screens gleefully show Washington outsider Jimmy Carter pledging to bring a new face to Washington, when George W. Bush reassures liberals and conservatives that he will be the one to finally unite the country across its great ideological divide, and when Richard Nixon tells a receptive nation that all it needs is order.
Outlet after outlet and neighbor after neighbor today reassure each other that, yes, the United States of America is under constant threat from forces beyond its control. Some of that is even true. We now have, however, the opportunity to look beyond the fear we may feel and choose a leader who attempts to address the problems head on, rather than disguising them in the rhetoric of good and evil. In November, elect Chuck Norris for president.
Andrew Hamner is a freshman majoring in journalism. He may be contacted at email@example.com.