A nation does, indeed, turn its lonely eyes to you.
Well, Joltin’ Joe has long left us and gone, but our eyes still turn. Somewhere. Anywhere. But away from the caustic, vituperative drivel that passes off as dialogue and discourse in this election year. If you have turned on the TV or listened to any of the so-called debates in this quadrennial phenom that is the election year in the USA, you cannot help but notice the level of fearmongering and name-calling that is splashing the airwaves. With all the supposed intellect, experience and patriotism on tap, one would think that the half dozen gentlemen vying for a chance to unseat the incumbent would have on display their finest, most innovative, proposals and ideas to restore peace and prosperity. Instead we have this and this, base shockvertising aimed at manipulation and instilling loathing and fear among the electorate rather than inspiring with uplifting ideas. Where has gone the civil discourse and dignity that all deserve, even your political foes. The war of words, it seems, is being fought with weapons of mass derision rather than with the swords of sharp intellect.
At times like this, it is tempting to look for Joe. To use Paul Simon’s own referential explanation, “In these days…we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity…” Can we not have someone- anyone- who can inspire without insult, motivate without morosity and uplift without umbrage ?
And yet, this country will survive. And perhaps not just survive, but prosper. It generally has. Maybe that is what makes democracy such a great system. Not the power or reliance on any one individual but perhaps the simple ability to never let one person no matter how smart (or stupid), how good (or evil) influence the destiny of the nation for too long. Instead, each election year offers an opportunity –even a catharsis perhaps- to purge the system of those whose values and aspirations don’t align with the people’s, or an opportunity to validate and renew the ability of those whose do.
p.s. for you history/trivia buffs, today (January 14th) is the day when Joe DiMaggio eloped with Marilyn Monroe on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. Today is also Uttarayan, the colorful festival of kites in Gujarat, India. The Ahmedabad sky for sure will be aflutter with a smorgasboard of dazzling colors !