In a Sane World (Take Two)
Here are 30 examples of a better world
In a sane world, President Joe Biden wouldn’t need to deliver a speech discussing the “battle for the soul of the nation.” He wouldn’t need to stand up for democracy and against the “MAGA Republicans” who, as he put it, operate on "fear, division and darkness," who "embrace anger and thrive on chaos," who think “either they win or they were cheated,” who have chosen “blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence.” In a sane world, Americans wouldn’t need Biden to assert that we can "stop the assault on democracy" because there wouldn’t be a significant minority of fellow citizens and their leaders who are more than willing to toss it all away.
But here we are, in a world where we need to pause from time to time and reflect on how upside down things have become, to remind ourselves that nothing is given—and that maybe, just maybe, by stripping away our disbelief and our human tendency to adapt to even the most extreme, nonsensical and unnerving realities we can begin to alter our trajectory.
As I noted in the first take on “In a Sane World” back in March, we wouldn’t “need to assume this is ‘how the world works.’ Because that assumption only stands—only lingers like a rotten vegetable—if we choose to believe these mad facts can’t be changed.” With that, I offer you this collection of beautiful facts in a sane world:
1—You wouldn’t need to be a legal expert or a psychiatrist to follow the daily news.
2—You wouldn’t need to feel grateful that the president of the United States gave a tough prime-time speech about the soul of the nation to combat the dangers within or be disappointed that only CNN and MSNBC chose to broadcast it.
3—Every American would take pride in the ideal of equality and recognize the need for the nation to regain its status as a beacon of democracy.
4—There would be no question that Americans believe in democracy and oppose Nazism and Nazis.
5—White supremacy would be dismissed as a joke because everyone knows America’s strength and richness comes from diversity—and everyone would grasp the absurdity of assuming one race is “the best.”
6—We wouldn’t need to assert that unity is a good thing, toxic division is a bad thing, and of course the president is working for the benefit of all Americans.
7—You wouldn’t need to spend a single second trying to figure out how to pronounce QAnon.
8—No one would need to advocate for the view that science and facts are a common good or wonder why some people are ready to return to the dark ages of superstition and illiteracy.
9—When talking about enemies, no one would be referring to fellow Americans because we would know we’re all in this together and our gravest dangers reside elsewhere.
10—When asked what are values that all Americans share, it wouldn’t be so damned hard to come up with an answer.
11—A former White House occupant wouldn’t steal classified records and keep them so near a public breakfast buffet.
12—That same former White House occupant would return those records when asked, then ordered, by the US Department of Justice because of course he would believe in the rule of law.
13—A man who committed crimes that disgraced his office and put the security of his country in danger would experience shame.
14—Americans wouldn’t have to worry whether elections will be free and fair.
15—Presidential hopefuls wouldn’t look to dictators and authoritarians to model their leadership strategies.
16—There would be no question that women have the right to control their own bodies.
17—The United States Supreme Court would be committed to justice, not driven by a political agenda.
18—Residents of Jackson, Mississippi or any American city wouldn’t be dependent on bottled water and could safely twist their faucet to wash their face or take a shower.
19—George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor (and so many others) would not be dead.
20—No one would have ever heard of a kid named Kyle Rittenhouse and he’d never travel to Wisconsin.
21—Twenty first graders from Sandy Hook Elementary would now be studying in high school.
22—No country would possess over 400 million guns and hear that the real problem is the mental health of individual gun owners and the lack of gun-carrying teachers.
23—Any mass shooting would be a shock and 450 mass shootings (yes, that’s the latest figure for 2022) would be an impossibility because gun laws would have long been changed to ward off an epidemic of gun violence.
24—We wouldn’t have to wonder or worry that a former White House occupant—a man who sat in the Oval Office and swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic—may have sold state secrets to the Russians, the Saudis or another adversary of the United States.
25—Carbon dioxide wouldn’t still be released at record levels, oceans would not be rising at a record pace, temperatures would not be increasing toward unlivable standards and every world leader would commit to cutting emissions and mean it.
26—The idea of “Mother Earth” would just make you feel warm and fuzzy, not riddled with worry and doubt.
27—All billionaires would care about solving problems like hunger and poverty, and they would proudly put their money where their mouths are.
28—The richest nation in the world would treat children going to bed hungry, living without proper health care and fearful of dying at school as a national emergency.
29—When we say “richest nation in the world” we wouldn’t just mean economically, we would be relishing high levels of well-being and a healthy body politic where the common good is the highest priority.
30—We wouldn’t need to be creating lists of what a sane world looks like because we would already be living there.
Near the end of President Biden’s speech last night, he offered this exhortation: “Stand up. Speak out. Get engaged. Vote, vote, vote.” In a sane world, with a well-functioning democracy, that wouldn’t be necessary because we would all take those actions naturally. But here we are. Let’s do what we can to create a more sane world.
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