At year end, I’m bewildered by questions about our world

As the year turns, there are some things I haven’t been able to understand. I figure I’m like most people.

Why doesn’t President Trump get it? His popularity is in the steepest free-fall of any president, yet he keeps promising policies most people don’t want and whose implications for America’s role in the world and the economy at home many don’t like.

Does he understand that running for president and being president are two quite different things? His presidency seems to be more about salesmanship than leadership.

Why did President Obama screw up so badly in Syria, allowing Russia to dominate matters there? He made a great speech in Cairo early in his administration, but never followed up with leadership on Middle East policy.

Obama left us with Democratic congressional leaders who repeat old slogans rather than offering positive, even bold, alternatives. Are there any young, national Democratic leaders outside of Washington? Like Obama was.

Why is Gov. LePage unable to understand how government works? He lets partisan petulance get in the way of leadership. He might have achieved more of his goals by compromise than he will by confrontation. He seems to think it’s all about him, when it’s really all about us.

Why do the Democrats desert their key constituencies? They are the party of working people and minorities. That was the magic of the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But they focus their attention on less important issues and their preoccupation with the GOP’s shortcomings.

Why don’t they focus on bread-and-butter issues like how to create jobs for the future, boost pay and protect retirement? Why does most of the talk either amount to complaints about the wealthy (which most working people would like to be) and social issues, which obscure more basic concerns?

Can we adjust to the speed of change? Our lives are changing at an ever-increasing rate. It is amazing to see how quickly same sex marriage gained acceptance and Supreme Court approval.

Now we are seeing long overdue but nonetheless warp-speed changes in dealing with sexual harassment and worse. Attitudes need to be fixed immediately, but society should also make sure this is permanent change, and not a frenzy that will soon pass, and that it is fair.

Why can’t we accept that the climate is changing with some unfortunate and dangerous results? It matters little if human beings are the cause, but it matters a lot if human beings, eager for short-term gain, refuse to do anything about it or make it worse.

Why can’t we deal quickly and effectively with wildfires in California or major power losses in Maine, when we know both are sure to come?

Why are we still fighting a war in Afghanistan? This has never really been a country. Every outsider – the British, the Russians and now Americans – has failed to create a stable and unified country. It is tragic to waste American and Afghan lives in the longest American war, which cannot end in victory.

Why don’t we squash fake news? Trump labels anything he doesn’t like as “fake news” and he is a major producer of it. Enough people have come to believe fake news that they think all news they like is accurate and all news they dislike is fake. Fake news is taking down the real thing.

Before something is labeled as news, it should have passed before an editor or fact checker. All media – print and electronic — ought to do what the Washington Post does and have fact checkers who report daily. The evening news would do its job better with fewer feel-good reports and a daily fact check.

Why has baseball so demeaned the job of manager that they are selected based on how well they can coddle their big stars? When a manager gets $2 million and a pitcher gets $25 million, that could be why. The result is that the manager gets no respect, and the game is more of a business and less of a sport.

I find all these questions bewildering. Of course, there may be an answer. A Persian fable told of a king who sought an all-purpose bit of wisdom. He was advised that wisdom could be summed up by the words, “This, too, shall pass.”

Abraham Lincoln reportedly once talked about that message. He said, “How much it expresses! How chastening it is in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Amen. Happy New Year.

Gordon L. Weil

About Gordon L. Weil

Gordon L. Weil is a former local, state, national and international organization official. He is an author and newspaper columnist.