Who’s Paying Attention to the Big Stuff?

Last week we talked about a quote from Thomas Jefferson. OK, pardon the drastic switch but this week let’s look at a quote that “sort of” came out of Wonderland – with Alice.

A lot of people attribute – if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there – to Lewis Carroll’s delightful (and somewhat frightening) story of Alice in Wonderland. The scene in reference was when Alice came across the Cheshire Cat.

Thing is, that’s not exactly what was said. Alice asked the crafty feline which way she should go and the cat said it depends on where she wanted to get to. Alice said she didn’t much care – and CC uttered the famous and mis-quoted reply, “then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Not sure how that popped in my addled brain the other day, but it got me to thinking. Where do we want to go as a country? Or better yet, what’s our goal?

And please, save me the political rhetoric. I don’t much care to hear a bunch of blarney I have trouble believing anyway.

No, I mean the substantive stuff. What is it we want to be as a country? What do we stand for? Not the stuff in the weeds.

The. Big. Stuff.

Once upon a time (seems a fitting phrase since we started out talking about Alice, don’t you think?) we were a nation of what Bill Murray brilliantly called mutts in the classic movie Stripes. We welcomed the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses. If they yearned to breathe free, we lit Lady Liberty’s lamp to show them the way home.

That wasn’t all.

We didn’t exactly say it (but like my Grandpa used to say, what you do says more than anything coming out of your pie hole), we also stood for being the best. And we were pretty proud of that, too.

In terms of the Big Stuff, we were a nation that welcomed immigrants and we had a competitive streak.

You can probably toss in a few other things, too.

For example, we said it first and started practicing it later – we are all brothers, equal in standing under God’s watch. Yup, we pretty much sucked at it for a while, but we kept trying to get better – and we did. No, we’re still not perfect, but we strive.

Any Big Stuff I left out? Maybe. But for today’s ramblings, let’s stick with these.

With all that in mind, can you define what the goal of our country is now?

We still welcome strangers to our strange land, but now it’s more under cover of darkness with a flashlight instead of Lady Liberty’s lamp.

It does seem like we want to be the best – but to do that, doesn’t it make sense that we need our citizenry fairly united, rowing mostly in the same direction? I guess I would then ask, how does it help us accomplish that when those entering our country don’t have to become a functional member of society, united in the cause of the United States and mostly rowing in the same direction?

And no you don’t. Don’t you go there. This isn’t about illegal immigration or diversity. Just the opposite. Look at championship teams in the world of sports. They are made up of all kinds of members. Black, white, yellow, Christian, atheists, short, tall, straight, gay, and everything in between . . . except those who either can’t or won’t contribute. Championship teams – teams that are good and not struggling – have no place for them.

But wait, you say. Sports? That’s such an oversimplification.

I beg to differ.

It may be sports, but the principles are the same. The common goal is to be the best. When everyone works together, it can be a beautiful thing.

That used to be us.

We voluntarily and perhaps even enthusiastically gave up a lot during World War II. We sacrificed. We kept tabs on prices and rationed things like gas, sugar, firewood, nylon, silk, meat, dairy, coffee . . .

Can you imagine that today?

Can you imagine anything that the vast majority of our citizens would unite for?

It’s not just us. Our government is about as divided as we are. Sen. Rand Paul said the other day that if his party takes back the Senate they will begin an investigation of my least favorite doctor, Mssr. Fauci. The other party has their own ongoing investigative orgy with Mssr. Trump.

(And here’s a question: Can you name any former U.S. president who was still in the headlines almost two years after leaving office?)

If a real investigation is warranted, why does it matter which party is in control? Shouldn’t they all want to do it? And if it’s not warranted, why do it? Actually, it goes farther than that. Doesn’t matter if it’s Dems or Repubs. If they go into something absolutely knowing nothing will come out of it . . . isn’t that the definition of an exercise in futility? Doesn’t the whole thing – and again, it matters not which side is doing it – just become more political grandstanding with absolutely no possibility of a result that will make a real difference?

Sadly, that’s the definition of politics today. It is such an accepted practice we don’t even notice anymore.

The. Big. Stuff. The. Stuff. That. Matters. Who’s paying attention to that now?

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Thursdays in The Times. Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is also a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at [email protected]