Since I began writing blogs in an effort to get you interested and involved in our media project, OPS-USA, I've had the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of people from my past whom I've sent links to when I post them. Most have not responded at all, but many, some of whom I differ with on just about every aspect of life, sent very complimentary emails. A few have even gone a step further and offered their help to support the project with time and money in order to get what they agree is a very worthwhile endeavor, off the ground.
I'm not too surprised at any of that. I specifically chose to create a TV series featuring a diverse team of skilled veterans, because I realized that one thing almost all of us can agree on, regardless of our myriad political, societal and economic differences, is that we recognize and honor our veterans for the service they have provided for this country. OPS-USA takes it the next step. It not only says, "Thank you", it says "We still need you."
The main goal of OPS-USA is to employ this team of veterans to help physically and emotionally restore our country to enable it to live up to its boast of being the "greatest country in the world." We think veterans can help that happen by continuing their service. Each week the OPS-USA team will travel to a location somewhere in the country to help deal with some of our most persistent problems. (You can learn more about this on our website at www.ops-usa.com. Please check it out and get involved.
What I am surprised at is how easy it's been to enlist people in this effort. Suddenly, everybody seems to be keenly aware of the fact that America is as polarized today as it has been since the Civil War. And they're really getting tired of it. It's even starting to move beyond ideological arguments of who's right and who's wrong. Now it's just getting to be dumb and destructive. Like the sequester. Or the fact that 91% of the population favors background checks on anyone buying a gun, yet the congress can't or won't pass that legislation. People, regardless of their political leaning, age, gender or station in life are frustrated and getting angry. I think the word I'm looking for is "ENOUGH".
Yet we still haven't broken the gridlock. We still can't take the first step toward each other without "our truth" preceding us to stop us from getting out of the starting gate. Why, I wondered, when so many are suffering, does nothing get done? Why does personal bias and animosity trump common sense and common purpose?
I got a clue about that on Memorial Day when I posted my first blog about honoring veterans. One of the people I sent it to was a high school classmate of mine who now lives in Houston. He and I reconnected after many years at a recent school reunion and I was stunned at how conservative he'd become. We both come from similar backgrounds, but he is as far right as I am totally reasonable. (this is my blog, my point of view). Our reunion conversation kicked off a series of emails about all things political and IN EVERY INSTANCE we were polar opposites. If we hadn't had all the history of growing up together I'm sure we would have written each other off by now. But because we knew one another, we still write regularly and ridicule each others positions, and though I still feel frustrated about his intransigence, we keep talking.
The point is that we fiercely disagree on many things, but I know him. For all his screwed up thinking (again, it's my blog), I can say, "Oh it's just Charlie." The problem is that most of us who disagree about the issues we all face in this country, don't know each other, and it's easy to dismiss what you don't know. But when I sent Charlie my Memorial Day blog, he was the first person to respond in an email saying "Great Job. You've hit the nail on the head". He said that it made him feel that there was hope for liberals.
This blog's title "What's Going On" is taken from a Marvin Gaye song whose lyrics say:
Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Just talk to me, so we can see
What's going on....
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and OPS-USA, a television initiative focused on helping veterans help communities. For more information on OPS-USA, click here.