The American people need to become the responsible adult

Thursday, November 1, 2018
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Montana Viewpoint

You may have heard about it. A couple of days ago two black men in hoodies drove up to the Boston Library at one in the morning. The Boston Library is a place where many of Boston’s homeless people “live”—for lack of a better word. As the two men got out their vehicle they began placing trays of cooked food on the pavement in front of the Library. Then they walked around to the sides and back of the library to let the homeless, who were sleeping on cardboard mattresses, know that there was hot food—beef tips and chicken—in front of the Library. Then they left.

One of the men had earlier helped lead the Boston Red Sox to victory in game two of the 2018 World Series. His name is Mookie Betts. He plays the Outfield and has a .303 batting average. Betts and his family had ordered catered meals for after the game, as they often do, but there was way more than they could eat, so Mookie’s dad suggested they take it over to the Library and give it to the homeless, which is what Mookie and his cousin did.

Boston sports personality Mike Winter was just leaving a nearby night club when he saw two men in hoodies pushing a shopping cart full of trays of food. He soon recognized Betts. When others at the night club came out and began to take notice, Betts and his cousin left the area. They were not seeking recognition for their kindness.

Elsewhere in the world, life continued its normal pattern; pipe bombs sent to political opponents, assassination of a prominent newsman, a President praises a member of Congress for his thuggish behavior of punching out a reporter who was doing his job.

I am sick of it. I want it to stop, but the odds of that seem slim to none. Why? Because not only do we now have politicians who encourage violence against those who differ with them, we have a public that eats it up, and we have Congressional leaders who have abandon all pretensions of civil behavior and in that process have allowed their ethical beliefs to devolve to the lowest level in American history and replaced the words of Jesus’ disciples Paul and Timothy, “Whatsoever things are true” with “whatever works.”

America is being led by people who neither take responsibility for the actions theirs words encourage and legitimize nor face criticism from the public for making them.

I feel as if I were witnessing a second graders’ playground free-for-all after the adult supervision has given up and headed for the bar. This is complete with the “he started it” and “did too, did not” of second graders. I am past caring who started it and who did what. I just want someone to stop it.

But first, someone has to take responsibility for fostering the anger. I volunteer the American public for that task. Whether they deserve it or not they need to take the role of responsible adult in this game of mayhem.

Jim Elliott served 16 years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator, and four years as Chairman of the Montana Democratic Party. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek.