A house divided misses the boat

Published 3:08 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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In the past, our nation has usually been able to find unity in the challenges of the times. When we didn’t have consensus in the beginning of the Second World War, the bombing of our naval base at Pearl Harbor galvanized us and we came together and defeated two despots, one in Germany and the other in Japan.

When the symbol of American commercial strength, the Twin Towers in New York City, were attacked on September 11, 2001, we gathered, as Americans, all around the nation to commit ourselves to being “One nation, under God.”

In response to that attack, we supported President Bush as he sent our sons and daughters into Afghanistan and Iraq. We lost thousands of precious Americans and, quite frankly, there were questions, but the divisions in our nation were held at bay, for the most part.

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I don’t think we have understood the magnitude of this current coronavirus crisis. In my opinion, we are in grave danger as a nation. I also don’t think we have the unity that was the past prescriptive for victory. I think we may be missing the boat.

Missing the boat had a literal meaning in the 18th century. It originated in Great Britain and actually meant that someone had arrived too late to take advantage of the transportation provided by the boat.

The meaning has changed, somewhat, in recent years and, now, missing the boat means that someone or some nation has failed to take advantage of a good opportunity. It is sort of kin to that saying “you snooze, you lose.” When an opportunity to make hay while the sun is shining arrives and you don’t make the hay, you’ve missed the boat.

Our president was quick and generous to send two ships or boats, for the sake of this column, to each of our coasts. He sent the hospital ships, the USNS Mercy to Los Angeles and her sister, the USNS Comfort, to New York City, but what we really need is a figurative USNS Unity to be sailed from sea to shining sea.

I don’t know why we cannot come together as a nation any more. I understand that there are two sides to every coin, but when the whole coin is endangered, it seems that both sides could forge some kind of unified response to stave off complete defeat.

We’ve had two sides to the coin of a United America for a long time. We call them the Republican side and the Democrat side. They fight like donkeys and elephants, but in our past, there has seemed to be a recognition that, somewhere along the way, it is best for the nation to come together and fight the battle together.

Usually, a national personality like the president has been the inspiration for unity, but for reasons hard for me to understand, our current president has been unable to galvanize the nation.

President Trump has many gifts. He’s confident in his abilities which some see as arrogance. He’s opinionated and is not afraid to use what is known as the Presidential Bully Pulpit or Twitter. He’s thin-skinned and, when provoked by media that seeks to ask “gotcha questions,” he’s not shy about calling them out. To be honest, sometimes he goes overboard.

With all that said, he has worked hard to lead the effort to protect our nation. I don’t think he has received the support other presidents have had in the past. His opponents relentlessly attack and hold him to a standard that they, themselves, don’t meet.

It’s time to hear again the opening line to one of Abraham Lincoln’s most memorable speeches, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”