The late great philosopher Yogi Berra once proclaimed: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” It sure ain’t!
Lots has changed over the last 60 years since Yogi was the catcher for the legendary New York Yankees. Hopefully, in the years ahead, we will experience a return of respect for one another and our way of life, which has been a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
Today, there is too little civility and the public discourse consists of subtle and not-so-subtle personal barbs aimed at piercing opponent’s dignity and public persona.
Unfortunately, Yogi’s contention that “it was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much” is now a big part of our problem. There is little respect for opposing views.
How many of you have turned off your television and radio because commentators keep yelling at and over one another? Where are their manners?
The constant spin crafted by clever well-paid political hacks, has all of us wondering what the truth really is and if anyone is fit for public service. There is the truth and then there are innuendos – which is which?
“You can observe a lot by just watching,” Yogi added. Since the 1950s, many of us have done a lot of “watching” and wonder where our country is headed.
The pressing question: Is there generation of business, organizational, educators, labor community and spiritual leaders and elected officials who can survive the current slanderous public grilling and risk facing public humiliation? Who would take that risk today?
Can we elect people who are willing to argue strongly for their beliefs, yet set aside their personal and philosophic differences to act in the best interests of our country? Will the political discourse return to respect and civility?
The core question for all Americans: “Can we look beyond themselves, rise above personal criticism and have the same strong commitment to make our country a better place in which to live and raise our families?”
Since the future ain’t going to be what it used to be, hopefully it will morph into something better.
Here are some things to consider.
First, we need to reject the view that the “end justifies the means!” That philosophy advanced by Saul Alinsky in “Rules for Radicals” (1971) is one of “doing whatever it takes to get your way or win.” It alone has eroded public confidence in our way of life and political system.
Second, we need to restore a sense of responsibility and be accountable for our actions. A wise religious leader once said “when you point your index finger at someone else, remember there are three of your fingers pointing back at you.”
Third, unfortunately there always will be injustices – hopefully, most are inadvertent. Yogi would say: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be!” That means we double-down on correcting inequities and injustices as soon as we see them.
Fourth, we need to have the grit and perseverance to overcome adversity because we all face it. It is part of life. It takes determination, hard and often frustrating work to become an accomplished welder, to earn an MBA or build a business.
Fifth, everyone needs a little help from our friends. Baby boomers must be good mentors to those taking their places in the workforce. They also can provide a good historic perspective of what makes America great.
Yogi concluded: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
We are at the fork in the road. We must carefully avoid the one that takes us over the cliff.
Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.