"If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future. “ — Winston S. Churchill
The simple truth is our nation’s social media-driven collective information age does not include a primer on the basics of America’s history, geography, and government. As expressed in a recent Editorial Opinion reprinted on May 7 by the Pocono Record, the teaching and understanding of American Civics needs an immediate and complete 21st Century Reboot.
Without knowing the basic and fundamental foundation of America’s common democratic values (such as “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”) America is doomed to repeat or to relive its errors and/or mistakes —and not live up to our Founding Fathers’ promises.
By comparing the disease of senility— the loss of an individual’s memory that erodes an individual’s character and personality— with that of the loss of the collective “memory of a society”, America’s loss is its "shared-common history."
In 2020, you can now understand that without a common remembered past and without a national sense of collective purposes, Americans will lose the binding common values and united sense of ethical, moral, and political direction and orientation.
Our common historical values should provide specific lessons on national symbols of unity (such as the Statute of Liberty, the American Flag, etc.) that assist America’s political leadership in their current and future decision-making.
Our American democratic core values and shared common history are essential for our nation’s survival in the 21st Century. Without these and contemporary cultural, legal, and societal changes, Americans are readily susceptible to accepting internet/social media half-truths, falsehoods and lies, while wavering on long-held ethical and moral issues.
In the 21st Century with the advent and widespread use of computers, the internet, and social media to deliver "The News”, it now appears Americans growing up the 21st Century now know less about their basic democratic ideas/values and less basic knowledge of America’s current or past history than their parents and grandparents
A recent article in the Atlantic asks the question: “Is this the worst year in modern American history?”
Of course, American history does not exactly repeat nor duplicate itself; however, the comparisons, contrasts, and similarities between America of 1968 and America of 2020 has and will continue to have major impacts on shaping America’s future.
In 1968, during the Vietnam War, America lost at least 50 combat soldiers a day during the Tet Offensive. In 2020, America has lost an average of 1,000 persons per day during the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
The Vietnam War ended after some two decades with a death toll of approximately 58,000 Americans killed. 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic has no fixed date of termination and may cause deaths well into 2021 all over the world. However, the current “death rate” of 17.6 per 100,000 Americans due to the coronavirus is considerably higher than the death rate of 8.5 deaths per soldier in Vietnam.
In 1968, there were political and civil rights demonstrations as well as riots throughout America— sparked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and civil rights discrimination, racial inequalities, police brutality, etc. In 2020, America is experiencing this again.
A crucial American Presidential Election in 1968 saw Richard M. Nixon run as the “law and order candidate” of the "silent majority", with a plan to get America out of the Vietnam War. Nixon won one of the closest presidential elections of the 20th Century. President Nixon resigned in disgrace because of the Watergate Crisis in 1974.
To be answered by history: How will the November 2020 Presidential Election affect America’s future?
Richard Weintraub, Esq. is a guest columnist for the Pocono Record