COMMENTARY: We used to be a nation of doers. When something was put in front of us go to do, we did it. No task was too big, too hard, too daunting, too much.
We used to be a nation of doers.
When something was put in front of us go to do, we did it. No task was too big, too hard, too daunting, too much.
We built bridges that stretched miles, and buildings that stretched to the stars.
And speaking of those stars, we sent astronauts toward them. We even walked on the moon, which shocked all who saw it just before midnight on that hot, steamy late July night 46 and a half years ago. Was this really happening?
So, then, was Ohio native Neil Armstrong the man on the moon all along? And how did he walk on all that green cheese?
We won wars to save the country, democracy and the world, rooting out ornery despots, dictators and delusional degenerates at every turn. When our allies were in trouble, they turned to us, because they knew we were the only ones who could do it, and because we would do it.
From medicine to machinery to microchips to motorcars, we made discoveries that changed mankind.
Best of all, almost as soon as we were done doing it, whatever "it" was, we did it again, and again, and again – better, better and better.
We never stopped doing it, because that’s who we were, and what we did. Accomplishments and success stories were notches in our belt, and there have been so many notches that we don’t have much leather left into which to put holes.
Not so much.
Oh, sure, we’re still doers. We continue to do great things – many of them, in fact – but our doing has gotten diluted by the redoing.
Indeed, we "re" a lot – again, like nobody in the history of the world.
We reboot, recant, recount, reduce, refresh, refund, refurbish, refute, reinforce, reinstate, reiterate, rejoin, rejuvenate, relive, remodel, renegotiate, renew, renounce, repay, repeat, repel, repent, replace, replay, replenish, repulse, require, rescind, resent, resign, resist, resolve, respond, restore, restrain, restrict, resume, retain, retard, retire, retort, retrace, retract, retreat, retrieve, retry, return, revamp, reveal, revere, reverse, revert, revile, revise, revive, revoke, revolt, revolve, reward and rewrite.
Whew! Yeah, we do "re" a whole bunch. Really.
But that has been good – at least for some people.
Dr. Sam Sheppard was first found guilty of murdering his wife in Bay Village in suburban Cleveland in 1954. Then he was exonerated when retried 12 years later.
We restrain ourselves and stay out of trouble.
We retrace our steps to locate our car keys.
We refurbish an old house and give it a second life, and much more valuable when we place it onto the market.
We repent after making poor choices.
And when we say things we shouldn’t, we find an escape route by retracting them.
I’m all for correcting mistakes, problems, miscalculations and the like. We absolutely need to get it right. With the technology available, there is no excuse not to do so.
But sometimes, we redo too much too many times, and as such restrict ourselves from looking forward because we are so intent on staring backward. Actually, it’s worse than that in that we don’t just limit ourselves by doing so, but rather we get stuck in the mud so badly that we can’t move. When is enough, enough?
Take the election. You know the one, where the candidate who was supposed to win easily, didn’t win at all?
It used to be back in the old days that when someone was unsuccessful in an endeavor or a competition, such as an election, they would just accept defeat and move on. But not anymore.
Even if that candidate doesn’t get involved in it, that candidate’s supporters, or perhaps even another candidate, will cry foul – with a lot of exclamation points. There will be riots, which we like to dress up and call violent protests, over the belief that the Electoral College was created the day before the election just to mess up certain candidates. And there will be calls – long, ranting, disoriented-sounding and fact-ignoring calls - for recounts. Even in one-sided victories, ones in which the chances of being incorrect are the same as winning the Power Ball, we need to redo the process at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers.
No matter what side of the aisle you’re on – Donald Trump’s cries beforehand that the election will turn out to have been rigged if he lost, and that a recount would be necessary, were silly – you have to admit that it makes no sense. It’s wasting money – our money.
Then there’s football, especially the college variety. A big play happens in the game. It’s called one way, which incites the other team. That, in turn, prompts the need to look, look again, and then to look again and again and again from every angle imaginable to make sure it does not need to be overturned. How about that angle from the opposite end of the sideline, looking through 21 of the 22 players on the field?
Then when it’s announced that after further – and exhaustive-to-the-nth-degree – review that the call stands, it still isn’t enough. After the game, which took longer to play than it does to go to the moon and back, the coach of the other team complains at great length about the officiating in his press conference, saying in effect that it’s the reason why his squad lost, and that immediately and forever becomes the story of the game.
Instead of that one call, or the officiating overall, perhaps instead it had something to do with his quarterback completing perfectly-thrown passes to the other team, or fumbling the ball near the goal line. But that would make too much sense. It would be admitting – heaven forbid! – that you just weren’t good enough that day.
Again, no one can accept defeat. To lose a football game – or an election or a game of Monopoly or a bet in a bar about how many s’s there are in the spelling of Mississippi, or antidisestablishmentarianism – doesn’t make you a loser. It just means that you lost one time – one time!! Not for a day or a week or a month or a year or lifetime, but one time.
Deal with it and move on.
Please. For everybody’s sake, please.
What if we applied this type of warped thinking to other aspects of life? That is, what if everything we did was on camera, or cameras? And what if we had the technology to recount tabulations?
You and your significant other have a disagreement over who said they should pay good money to go see a move that turns out to be a dud? You just go back and look at the tape to settle it. But when you’re proven to be the culprit, you complain that there wasn’t a camera angle that shows you had your fingers crossed when you can be heard saying, "Trust me on this one."
The people at work take a vote and decide to order pepperoni pizza for the annual Groundhog Day company party. You hate pepperoni. You’re convinced it causes you to hallucinate, making you enjoy things like down-and-dirty political campaigns college football games that last longer than the lifespan of small insects. You ask for a recount of the ballots. And when pepperoni pizza comes out on top again, you contend that the voters were misinformed on what they were actually casting ballots on. "I thought I was voting on just pizza in a general sense," you point out.
And finally, you, as a student, get a bad grade on a big test. You contend that the grading scale was conceived the previous evening just to sabotage you, and that’s the only reason why your score of 32 is a failing grade.
"Can I do a retake?" you ask.
Why not? Everyone does nowadays.
It’s what we do instead of doing something constructive, let alone historic or mankind-changing.