Stopping Our Long Slow Slide into Chaos

I have been trying not to dwell on the daily media reports of America’s slide into chaos. However, cable and network news, talk radio and a parade of television commentators draw me like a duck to water.  I, like so many others who were addicted to print media for hard news, now get more of my news electronically; and I get it live, in color, and with the spin to fit my mood by anticipating what my chosen commentator is going to say.  With the “On Demand channel” I can even decide which version of the lead news story of the day I want to believe; all I need is the time to compare the commentators on the competing news channels.

There was a time when unencumbered world and local news were readily available, with opinion and fact clearly drawn; getting the news has become more complicated these days.  Reporting of stories now moves so rapidly that due care is sometimes lost and conclusions are reached in the reporting before all facts are in. As a result, sensitive issues inaccurately reported fan the embers of long smoldering anxieties that quickly become hot confrontations with deadly consequences.  Our inability to communicate rationally on all levels of discourse now easily leads to chaos and frequently to serious disorder.

Since my days as a public school teacher, experience has taught me that few confrontations could not be resolved if addressed in their early stages. Stakeholders on all levels in a school system, parents, administrators, teachers and students usually have recognizable issues often predictable before they ignite into irreconcilable differences.  Awareness of predictable conflicts and interests, regardless of where in the hierarchy of human relations they lay, often helps lead to conflict resolution even before confrontations erupt. This is a simple truth whether a conflict is on an international level or is the subject often leading to workplace violence. Being willing to recognize the likely eruption of a conflict and to take effective steps to reduce rising tensions, requires hard work but may be the only effective way to avoid violence.  Had the looming disaster of world aviation terrorism been taken more seriously after the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, subsequent aviation related terrorism such as the attack on New York’s World Trade Center in 1994, could have resulted in security that might have avoided the security negligence that caused the 9/11 attacks.

There is a growing appetite for American blood being carried on the winds of war. Weapons of mass destruction, whether sitting on missiles in North Korea, on man-made islands in the South China Sea, or packaged as chemical, biological or radiological weapons and stored in Iraqi and Afghani caves waiting for deployment, or stored underground in Iranian storage facilities, are likely aimed at the United States while Iran, North Korea and China continue to work on strategically arming themselves.   American sailors have been bound and forced to their knees and made to publicly apologize for wandering too close to an invisible border by an Iran who just last year we called our Iranian ally. Their goal: To show contempt to the nation that just gave them more than $100 billion and a green light to continue to build a nuclear capability while the world watches their aggression. Throughout the Middle East our Muslim allies who promised to help carry the war against Muslim terrorism are now too worried about Syrian “refugees” penetrating their societies on behalf of Isis to do little else but chastise America for acknowledging the foreseeable risk of spreading terrorist violence and closing our borders to unvetted Syrian refugees.  And despite repeated forays by radical Islam against American facilities on the streets of American cities such as Boston, New York, and San Bernardino, we are unable to secure evidence from a cell phone used by terrorists who likely used it to coordinate their murderous attack on their American co-workers.

Angry mobs are claiming our public sidewalks to demonstrate as they did in the 1960’s and 70’s during a similar mix of racial unrest, anti-war sentiment and presidential politics as was the case then.  In the Vietnam War era, millions of dollars in real estate was torched by anti-war protestors allowed to run lose in our streets; thousands of Americans of all ages in support of and opposed to the war were arrested or assaulted by out of control mobs and misguided police trying to restore order, and disruptions spread into communities gone wild.  Today, there appears to be the beginning of a similar era of violence ready to explode across America. Whether in racially divided cities, economically depressed communities, on restless college campuses or by volatile political parties unable to unify support behind leading presidential candidates leading to  civil disobedience at campaign rallies. American society is showing symptoms of wide spread instability in its institutions and appears unprepared to respond to the ever-increasing risks of crime, chaos and disruption visible on the horizon.  We must respond now.

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