The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS -

the­aters; Elvis dies. Too many head­lines.

I do re­mem­ber Kent State, and that photo of the girl kneel­ing over the stu­dent who was shot and killed dur­ing an anti-war protest. I can see in my mind’s eye the photo of the young man plac­ing a flower in the bar­rel of a ri­fle (1967, dur­ing a march on the Pen­tagon) – elo­quently re­mind­ing us to work to­ward peace, not war. And the footage I’ve seen of blacks be­ing hosed down dur­ing (what started out as peace­ful) civil rights protests – sim­ply in ef­fort to be treated fairly and equally, made an im­pact. I re­mem­ber Wood­stock (1969, but still, one of the coolest things to ever hap­pen) – be­cause of those fab­u­lous pho­tos of peo­ple united by good feel­ings and ter­rific mu­sic.

I re­mem­ber those things be­cause of pow­er­ful pho­tographs and film footage that have cap­tured for­ever what that volatile, bom­bas­tic, ground-break­ing decade was all about.

And it makes me won­der – when to­day’s chil­dren be­come adults, what sto­ries will the archival pho­tographs and footage tell them?

That ha­tred, dis­trust and a com­plete fail­ure to re­spect each other fu­eled a bit­terly di­vided coun­try – that’s my guess.

Be­cause if there’s one thing I’m sure of, the pres­i­dency of Don­ald Trump has brought out the worst in ev­ery­one. Now, be­fore Repub­li­cans start curs­ing me, please reread the above sen­tence. It is a bi-par­ti­san ob­ser­va­tion. Trump by some ac­counts (mostly his) has done some pretty good things for the coun­try.

Unit­ing its ci­ti­zens, how­ever, is not one of his achieve­ments.

He has sys­tem­at­i­cally and unashamedly cre­ated a chasm as big as the Grand Canyon – turn­ing friends against each other, fam­ily mem­bers into en­e­mies and Chris­tians into haters.

And for the life of my I don’t know why.

What is the end game? Why would turn­ing ci­ti­zens of the United States against each other be good for any­one?

His ral­ly­ing cry is “Us vs Them,” and the right is buy­ing into it and the left is rail­ing against it.

Where’s that girl hold­ing a bot­tle of Coca-Cola while stand­ing on top of a moun­tain sur­rounded by other free-think­ing young adults want­ing to teach the world to sing when you need her?

Any­way, back to present day…

I’m pretty sure the read­ers who are Trump sup­port­ers are as­sum­ing I’m a bleed­ing-heart lib­eral who thinks Trump should be im­peached.

Wrong. I’m by far a bleed­ing heart (that would be my daugh­ter) and “Celebrity Ap­pren­tice” was once one of my fa­vorite shows.

Plus, I want this pres­i­dent to suc­ceed, be­cause if he is good at his job, we all win. But he only seems to be in­ter­ested in claim­ing a solo vic­tory. He doesn’t seem to un­der­stand that some­times, if you take one for the team, the vic­tory is all that greater.

And fu­el­ing the an­gry bus, in my opin­ion, is so­cial me­dia.

Here’s the thing – we can’t con­trol other peo­ple’s ac­tions or re­ac­tions, but we can con­trol our own. And just be­cause a per­son doesn’t agree with my line of think­ing, and even if I think that per­son’s be­liefs are ridicu­lous or mis­in­formed – I have to, no I must, re­spect his or her right to their opin­ion.

Dear Lord, it’s like we as a coun­try have trav­eled back to the early 1800s when only older white men had the right to do and say and own any­thing they wanted.

While the pol­i­tics of this na­tion has me a bit con­cerned, what re­ally fright­ens me is the anger and name call­ing and rush to judg­ment and “fake news” and the to­tal dis­re­gard for those words in the con­sti­tu­tion that as­sure us the free­dom to think, the free­dom to speak, the free­dom to protest (peace­fully).

We’re for­get­ting that ci­vil­ity, re­spect, in­tel­li­gence, in­tu­itive­ness and a de­sire to move this coun­try for­ward were just a few of the bricks in the foun­da­tion of this coun­try.

And “both sides of the aisle” are at fault. Gosh, I’ve never heard that phrase as much as I did dur­ing the Brett Ka­vanaugh hear­ings. This “us vs. them” men­tal­ity is go­ing to be the down­fall of this coun­try, if you ask me. And for what? Why?

Maybe I’m naïve, or stupid – but it seems to me peo­ple’s in­di­vid­ual be­liefs are based on merit, whether or not other peo­ple see that merit. If you thought Obama was the great­est pres­i­dent in the his­tory of the coun­try, great. I’m sure you have your rea­sons. If you think Trump is by far the great­est thing to hit the White House since Ronald Rea­gan, ter­rific.

Let me hear why; ed­u­cate me in your be­liefs. But don’t shout them at me. Don’t scream at me and tell me I’m an id­iot if I don’t en­tirely agree.

I be­lieve Elvis is by far the great­est singer who ever lived (and there will never, ever be any­one bet­ter), but hey, you may think Si­na­tra was bet­ter. He wasn’t, but I’m not go­ing to ar­gue with you un­til I’m blue in the face try­ing to con­vince you. Ac­tu­ally, that re­ally

isn’t a good ex­am­ple – Elvis was def­i­nitely a bet­ter singer and en­ter­tainer – he wasn’t called the King for noth­ing. Any­way… I’m smart enough to know that I’m not go­ing to change a life­long Si­na­tra fan into an Elvis diehard. The same way a Si­na­tra loy­al­ist isn’t go­ing to woo me over to the Ole Blue Eyes camp. But, I will ad­mit this. Si­na­tra could sing and he could act (he was no dancer, though). And while I’m not a huge fan, I re­spect his tal­ent and un­der­stand why he could build an army of fans. But still - he’s no Elvis. And that’s how I ap­proach pol­i­tics. I don’t agree with a lot of things, but I’m fine with civil dis­agree­ments and de­bates. That’s how we learn – through in­tel­li­gent dis­cus­sion and the shar­ing of ideas. You might not con­vince some­one of your be­liefs, but you may get them to look at things just a bit dif­fer­ently.

If you aren’t shout­ing at them. Or post­ing snarky memes on Face­book. Or tweet­ing in­sults. Or rail­ing at “fake news.” Or hurl­ing in­sults. Or en­gag­ing in name-call­ing. Or as­sign­ing blame.

Re­spect has to light the way for the course of ac­tion, de­bate and the ex­change of ideas – then maybe we grow to­gether as a uni­fied team, learn about our­selves and each other and make life bet­ter for ev­ery­one. *** Speak­ing of the 1970s… Bishop Kenrick High School Class of 1973 (my brother Terry’s class) will be hold­ing an an in­for­mal 45th “Meet and Greet Old Friends” get to­gether on Sat­ur­day, Oc­to­ber 20 at Steppy’s Sports Bar & Grille, 2912 Swede Road in East Norriton. Cost is $10.00 per per­son upon en­trance. Light fare, cash bar and ca­sual at­tire. No uni­forms nec­es­sary! Ch­eryl Ke­hoe Rodgers is a con­tent ed­i­tor at The Times Her­ald. She can be reached at crodgers@timesher­ald. com.


The Flower Power pho­to­graph by Bernie Bos­ton of the Wash­ing­ton Star, was taken dur­ing “March on The Pen­tagon”, 21 Oc­to­ber 1967.


Fans of Elvis Pres­ley, left, can cer­tainly agree with Frank Si­na­tra fans that both were great tal­ents.

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