I am somewhat hesitant to write this opinion piece, because I have good friends on both sides of the equation. I find it extremely ironic that despite all the disagreement and even rancor, both sides ring true with respect to the upcoming election — it is the most consequential and momentous election in many years. To borrow a phrase from Sen. McConnell: “elections do have consequences.”
My primary concern is with the health of our nation. My family has been here since before we were a nation, 1709 to be precise. Yes, we were one of those “pioneer families,” who came from France to escape religious and personal persecution and to establish a new life in a New Land. My family settled the wilds of east-central Pennsylvania, farmed the land, made rifles for the American Revolution, migrated west to Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and even Louisiana and California. They fought during the American Civil War, mostly on the side of the Union, and proceeded to defend our freedom in both World Wars. All the while, they kept a firm grip on the American Dream of independence with self-reliance, hard work, and creativity. Most of all, they maintained and sustained the supreme concepts of Faith and Family.
We live in a different age now. As our population has grown and society has developed, we are now more interdependent than ever. The health of our nation now depends more on our willingness to sacrifice some of the individual “rights” that we instinctively want to cling to, in favor of a mutual sharing of opportunity, knowledge, labor, health, and economic welfare. If there is one thing this current viral pandemic can teach us, it is that we can no longer “go it alone” and thrive, much less survive. We need one another, and we truly are “all in this together.”
We are the United States of America. We are more than a collection of individual states. We can accomplish so much more together than we can separately in our God-given journey towards a “more perfect union.” The dismantling and defunding of our federal government in recent years, in favor of an inequitable reduction of taxes, has in effect cost us dearly. Our muted and tardy response to a national and international public health crisis has drained our time, energy, vitality, finances, and even our lifeblood with the eventual unnecessary loss of a quarter of a million or more American lives — Grandparents and Parents, Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters, Cousins, Neighbors, and even the very Health Care Workers charged with trying to save our lives in the midst of this catastrophic pandemic. We can and must do better!
I am not a “Socialist,” but I do have a social conscience. I still believe in the traditional American values of individual hard work, sacrifice, and the attainment of self-worth and financial independence. However, I also believe that, in many cases, hard work and desire are often not enough. Circumstances often limit opportunity, especially with respect to our African-American citizens. They are coming from a place of literal “set-back” in our society, and so the anger and frustration are understandable. Ofttimes, they not only do not find a helping hand extended, but they also find that the ladder out of the hole has been pulled up. The “I got mine, you go get yours” culture takes a tremendous toll on the health and well-being of the down-trodden, but also the morality of the “successful.” God does not want us to treat one another this way! We must allow them and all disadvantaged an equal opportunity to work toward success, a helping hand when needed, and rid ourselves of all racism and stereotyping that slows our own progress. There must be Equality in terms of Health, Education, Access to Opportunity, and Equal Justice, nothing more and nothing less.
I grew up “poor” on a Southern Indiana Farm. I understand the deprivation and soul-searching that goes with poverty. I overcame many obstacles, but I also knew many kindnesses along the way. I discovered the supreme importance of Faith and Family. I would not trade that life experience for anything in the world. It has led me to believe in the Strength of God and Faith in Him. It has led me to believe in the fundamental goodness and potential in each and every human being, given the right support and opportunity. It has informed my entire life’s attitude toward mankind.
Another area of concern is the unequal administration of justice. “Criminal justice reform” has barely scratched the surface. Action taken thus far is a start, but still could be considered tokenism. Our system is still far too slanted toward the wealthy and the well-connected, with resultant injustice abounding.
Finally, our international relations are in tatters. Traditional friendships and alliances have been abandoned in favor of isolationism and unexplained attraction to authoritarianism. Our own democracy, once the inspiration for the world, has been usurped by tolerance and even encouragement of non-representative governments. Indeed, even our individual liberties as Americans are in serious jeopardy.
And so, as an independent moderate, I ask you to choose our leaders wisely, and with an understanding heart. Up and down the line, please choose those leaders who will bring out the best in all of us and each of us, who will truly look out after the best interests of our country, our states, and our communities. Please choose those leaders who will most encourage us in helping to find and fulfill our God-given purpose, in forming “a more perfect union.”
Thank you, and God Bless you,
Homer A. Ferree Jr., MD, Sellersburg