“Calling out around the world: Are you ready for a brand new beat?” – Marvin Gaye and Mickey Stevenson
I probably ought to dedicate this missive to my old high school buddy Butch Kimbrell, whose deep and abiding affection for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas provided me with the opening quote above for which I had been searching all weekend.
(And yes, I know, the Mamas and the Papas did a cover of it which topped the charts for a while, but Marvin Gaye wrote it for Martha and her group and Butch and I still prefer it.)
Besides, that is a song that just tends to elicit a smile. That is a feel-good song for an entire country very much in need of one.
In his patiently awaited for acceptance speech Saturday night, Joe Biden sought a conciliatory tone and said he fervently wished to unite, rather than further divide the nation. Good luck with that, Mr. President-elect, because the current divide is deep and wide, a condition that grows worse with the birth of every new electoral conspiracy theory and every minute defeated President Donald Trump fails to do the right thing.
So, let us establish a couple of very basic things, things which might make having a rational discussion a bit easier at a moment when irrationality reigns:
1. The election is over and no amount of legal fretting and strutting or political huffing and puffing is going to change that fact.
2. Biden won that election and Trump lost that election “fair and square;” there was no banana republic-quality voter fraud and no groups of previously honest, but suddenly conspiratorially corrupt election officials “stole” it.
The now lame-duck president can take to Twitter and rant and rave about variations of that and/or take to his living quarters or golf courses to pout over it until the cows come home, but none of it is going to change.
But having delivered that message – one which is as needed as it is unpopular in some quarters, allow me to also deliver another softer, and equally appropriate one.
Everybody needs to dial it back a notch or two – the bragging, the cussing, the glee, the hate, the mutual trash-talking, all of it.
Half the country is quick to get all hot and bothered regarding the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance, but the whole country desperately needs to become a lot more concerned about the “one nation, indivisible” part, too. Because we are no such thing now.
When the final tallies are agreed upon, Joe Biden will have received the votes of 75 million Americans, the most of any presidential candidate in the history of the republic. But in defeat, Donald Trump will also have received 70 million votes, the second highest total of any presidential candidate in that same republic. And there are a couple of truths inherent in that: for one, losing any election by 5 million votes means you have had your hat handed to you, but receiving 70 million votes is nothing to sneeze at, either.
The political divide that exists in this country is like a gaping wound in the national soul, one that if left untreated can lead to the kind of sepsis that fatally poisons us all. Joe Biden says he wants to govern as a president for all of us, and God bless him if he can and does, perhaps even begin to heal that wound in the process. But will fully half of us even give him that chance? Perhaps, but we will have to evolve considerably from where we are now.
And perhaps, like so many other things that truly matter, the only potentially successful way to address them is one heart and mind at a time.
So, let me be the first.
Along with the ever-blathering talking heads on 24-hour “news” channels which no longer even pretend to exercise any objectivity, and instead just slant the events of the day in the directions they feel their respective audiences most want to hear (thereby creating dueling echo chambers), the ever-growing number of social media platforms serve to fuel the flames of national discontent.
And on one of them at the end of last week, what began as a reasonable enough dialogue predictably descended into a now all too familiar ugliness.
A man whom I have considered to be a friend, albeit a casual one, for more than 27 years, in what I hope was but the heat of the moment, and absent any relevant cause, saw fit to question my patriotism. We disagreed over something as subjective as politics and he accused me of not being a patriot.
It is the sort of thing that can drive permanent wedges, shatter human relationships. But I hereby choose not to let it.
I hereby forgive him. I extend my hand should he choose to shake it and I pledge to never speak of the matter again.
If I can do that, so can you and the next man and the next. It is a long way from healing a nation, but it is a start, and the thing is, within those hearts and minds of ours, all of us know it’s the right thing to do.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.