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Minnich: Scared of what we see in the mirror

Who’s to the Right, who’s going too far Left? What happened to the Middle?

Lots of chitty-chat about that from breakfast tables to CNN to Fox and beyond.

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The question should be, who’s left out? Left out on the economy, on human rights, on personal freedoms; left out of the conversation simply because they’re a little timid or not controversial enough or simply not heard when they do say something.

Left out of everything because the world has changed, all the old rules are being ignored, and those who waited for their turn have had to step aside as newcomers of all kinds go to the head of the line.

What they want to ask about or what they want to say can’t be neatly packaged in some shallow yet shiny social networking format, so no one pays heed to the issues that are of interest in some of the most critical issues of the day.

Most of us have been sometimes conservative and sometimes more liberal on social issues. Times and situations change. It’s a proven fact that if you naturally favor one foot over the other (and we all do), whether it’s right or left, you will walk around in circles if lost in the desert.

But put yourself in familiar territory with landmarks, and you’ll adjust your gait to get you to your destination. Sometimes turning right, sometimes left, sometimes on the straight and narrow.

The troublemakers are those who think their own bent track is really the only straight and narrow way to go. Successful and happy, well-adjusted people with healthy relationships with a broader base of other humans can tolerate different ideas and tastes. So, then why do we allow people with power to continue to bully the rest of us in business, religion and politics?

Is it because we are afraid? We need a bigger monster we know to stand up to monsters we imagine.

The monster is not something we can touch. The monster is the fact that all reality is now and forevermore relative. You have your reality, that group or individual has their reality, and no one wants to hear the other person’s reality because it might mean revisiting everything you thought was, well, real.

And technology in the hands of slick marketeers and manipulative controllers can knock any narrative into a different arena as soon as any traction toward reasoned compromise shines though the mud of the current news cycle.

Some of us have memories of coming out of a world depression and slogging through a war that spanned Europe and the Pacific, and then a “police action” that killed another 50,000 young men in Korea, with barely a segue into whatever that perversion of American values was in Vietnam.

We’ve gone to the moon and back and that was great, but let’s get back to what we do best: Making money by funding and then cleaning up wars. Where can we do that? Oh, yeah, the Middle East. We can sell it by saying we’re protecting Israel’s protection of America in the backyard of bad guys from Russia to China to Africa.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we can kill each other in the streets of our own cities because we can’t remember that the nation was founded as a safe haven for anybody who was willing to make sacrifices to get here, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

Making America great.

So we can sing we’re proud to be an American right after the president says those who have suggestions for improvement should go back to where their ancestors came from.

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Nationalism raises its ugly visage out of the muck of fear. If it needs some stoking now and then for the sake of those whose only tools are fear and loathing, that’s what elections are all about.

Dean Minnich, who retired from a career in journalism and served two terms as a county commissioner, writes from Westminster. His column runs Thursdays. Email him at Dminnichwestm@gmail.com.

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