We can’t allow our great nation to fall apart, like Humpty Dumpty

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

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Couldn’t put Humpty together again

We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme, “Humpty Dumpty.” I’m sure there have been thousands of words written to explain what it means. To me it means that someone or something very fragile sat on top of a wall. He or it fell and, once fallen, could not be re-assembled by, either, brute strength symbolized by the king’s horses or the humane manipulations of the king’s men. Once broken, it could not be fixed.

I may stretch the meaning of the nursery rhyme here, but I would like to think for a moment about our once great, but now fragile, United States of America. It still has great financial wealth and military power. It remains the world’s premier country, but the core of that strength, which is not dollars or armies, sits on top of a wall in a teetering manner.

The first word of the name of our country is “united.” We are the United States of America, yet the unifying spirit that has always been the source of our strength and uniqueness is quickly diminishing. That unifying spirit is the Humpty Dumpty on top of the wall.

Since I have always lived in this country and, thankfully, have had a love affair with its spirit, I have been interested in observing its ebbs and flows for a long time. I don’t know why I have enjoyed the subject of politics, but I have. I have never given one thought to holding any public office; that’s not my cup of tea.

At the same time, I can remember writing in elementary school an essay on an imaginary boxing match between then-president John Kennedy and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. It was probably during the Cuban missile crisis and my president, JFK, knocked out Fidel Castro in a dramatic bout.

I have lived through The Great Society push of LBJ, the rise and fall of Richard Nixon, the election of a Georgian and his defeat in 1980 by the charismatic Ronald Reagan. Since I was born, I have lived during the terms of 12 presidents. Some of you who read this will remember even more.

In addition to the presidents, there have been Congresses that have been dominated by one party and those Congresses that have shared powers. There have been at least 30 congressional elections during my lifetime.

Now, to my point. I have never seen a more dysfunctional federal government than I am witnessing these days. If my spirit leaned towards discouragement, and it sometimes does, I might wonder if Humpty Dumpty has already fallen off the wall. Our founders may have seen a certain value in divided government and responsibilities, but I can imagine them rolling over in their graves at the situation of today.

It seems to me that our elected representatives, from the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate to the highest office in the land, the U.S. presidency, are more interested in carving out ways to win elections than they are in making decisions for the good of our country. They seem to be tone deaf or blind to the lack of governance that is going on.

For the Congress, it is amazing that for many years we have worked without an official budget. We’ve got huge financial challenges. Those, alone, are enough to knock my symbolic Humpty Dumpty off the wall. Yet, the people who have been elected to be responsible with our hard-earned tax monies can’t even sit long enough to set a goal, which is what a budget is.

Instead of being civil with each other and persevering until a good job is accomplished, they fuss and fight, call each other intransigent, and choose up constituencies that they think will ensure they get to come back next time and do the same thing. If that is the best they can do, I am not sure they deserve another chance.

Speeches that seek to divide, not unify, are given to all kinds of special interest groups. Purposefully, lining up Americans against Americans, as in the rich or successful against the less fortunate, and acting as if they are squelching on their contributions to the good of the country, is a shameful strategy. It is simply not true and the ones who talk that way ought to be called on it.

Appealing to a group on the basis of skin color, sexual orientation, union membership, religion, or any other personal life situation is wrong in a country that has as many problems that we do and needs everyone pulling in the same direction.

The strength of America is found in the statement “United We Stand; Divided We Fall.” I return to the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty. If Humpty is still on that wall, we ought to be doing our best to stabilize him and not shake him for, as the rhyme goes, once that unifying spirit falls, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put Humpty together again. And that, my friends, will be the world’s loss.