One of the joys of my day is when I am able to speak to my friend and mentor, Howard Stein, who always has prescient and lively advice for me on a daily basis — even if we don’t speak every day!
In less than a year, Howard will turn 90 years old. He just renewed his Stamford Library card until 2014 — making, as he joyously told me, a “bold statement about the fluidity of my future!”
During our latest conversation, as we reflected on our lives — as we are often wont to do — the tone turned serious and Howard said in a sad and somber voice, “David, the world you are left with is not the world I wanted for you.”
Howard was a boy who leapt from a continent to save the world, and I instantly understood what he meant. The world we live in now is so much worse than the world he helped win for us in 1945. Was that effort worth it now? What have we won in the last 20 years except more poverty, greater heartache and so much more disappointment in our lives?
Sure, thanks to President Obama, the Middle East is crumbling away from dictators and, we hope, terrorists — but the world back home in America finds us all in deep trouble. Our infrastructure is decaying. The GOP are on a warpath against the American people to sink our economy just because they can’t fairly beat President Obama in the voting booth to prevent a second term. Salaries are frozen while healthcare co-pays are doubling. We are devolving into mountainous student debt loads that will weaken, and then break, the brightest of us.
What sort of life is left for those who must do the onward living? Are we stuck reveling in a second World War Victory that no longer matters in today’s politicide of angling and economic warfare? What are we to make of these poorer, but more radical, countries that seek to do us harm — not because of our leadership stake in the caring of the world — but because of the faiths we choose to believe and honor?
How do we remove ourselves from the realm of the religious war and settle back into creating good people and making keen inventions and bruising bullies — and not persecuting the elderly, the innocent, and the foreign among us?
If we have to leap from the continent again, will we drop into the fire of our deaths?