Lance Scranton: Civil wars
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that I’ve been intrigued by a series of Civil War novels as part of my summer reading. With political party conventions taking place this month, we’re being told there is a deep divide in our country. The gap between those who will definitely vote for one party or the other is increasingly more diverse and at times largely uncivil in tone. It’s difficult to get through the bog of prognostications and predictions that are part and parcel of the coverage, but just as in the books I’m reading — it comes down to the people.
“Valley of the Shadow” and “The Damned of Petersburg” by bestselling author Ralph Peters are partly accounts of two famous Civil War battles, but what’s most intriguing is the analysis of the decisions made by the people on both sides of the battlefields. Just like the soldiers and officers representing the North and South, people are what make organizations and political parties function, and they weren’t always prim, proper and politically correct.
Brutal, bloody and sometimes horrific are the descriptions Peters lays out of the aftermath of decisions in striking fashion to drive home the point that real men and women were part and parcel of frenzied action and deeply divided outcomes. So often in our assessment of history, we get the nuts and bolts of events but seldom ponder the wrenches and ratchets that determined processes.
I’m not sure how this summer of inclusion and solidarity each party is trying to portray will be remembered — if at all — but we have had our share of tragedies that put a magnifying glass on the ability of our elected leaders to define the issues and offer up solutions. Speeches are important, words mean things, delivery makes a difference, but we as Americans demand much more. Will there be a new and refreshing attitude next year when our 45th President is sworn in?
I am ever hopeful and eternally optimistic about our chances because our country has been written off before only to come storming back. Books will be written about this time in history and the cast of characters who have made bold promises during a tipping point in our United States. Will it be a story of renewed civic pride, bold leadership and the great potential of our nation or the continued decline of American influence and power at the hands of external threats, internal strife and an acceptance of mediocrity?
I’ll fight for the former because we’ve already had too much of the latter!
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