THE MARSHALL PLAN: A welcome return of baseball

Culpeper Times columnist Marshall Conner

If ever there was a need for a collective timeout in this nation—it is now. You see I have two-decades of experience with letting cooler heads prevail on playgrounds across our county. I have weathered two decades in childcare, 26 years in journalism, and eight in the military.

I have experienced lots of tempers, tears, tantrums, and clenched fists.

Admittedly, I had to learn many lessons the hard way as a teenager in military school . The top lessons were personal accountability, leadership, civility, honor, and a willingness to listen.

Like most sane Americans, I was disheartened by the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol.

Mobs, lawlessness, sedition, and cults of personality should never be tolerated in our nation. The actions I saw sickened me as an American and especially as a former soldier.

Over the last few decades, I have grown weary of the tactics of our two prevailing parties. It is tough to trust either one. Both parties have politicized protests, a pandemic, manipulated the law, raised debt recklessly and failed us as elected leaders.

Bipartisan debate has devolved into a never-ending cycle of revenge or power grabs. This schoolyard scuffling of Republican versus Democrat has only brought us to the troubles we witness today.

Our foes in the world must enjoy seeing the nation often referred to as the “world’s greatest hope” turn into a weekly sideshow. Our allies must also be shocked.

I want an America where free speech is valued, regardless of where it rises from in the political spectrum. Even more importantly, I want us to hear each other again. We need to cast aside the filters and funnels that technology companies and large media platforms have channeled us into.

We must not let polarization metastasize like a cancer throughout the bones of our Republic. Let us take a sober look at the environment created and nurtured by both parties along with their pet media allies.

Two parties demonize each other daily and yet there is shock when real demons emerge?

We need to reflect on the often twisty, imperfect, and tumultuous road of history that stretches from the ideals of our founding fathers to the blood-soaked battlefields of the Civil War, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

How would our grandfathers who defeated fascism in World War II view the state of our nation today? Our nation has faced many obstacles—some have been solved, some are still evolving. Our history shows a timeline of unparalleled brilliance, liberty, chaos, conflict, debate, oppression, and sacrifice—yet in the end we learned its lessons and emerged. Can we do that once again?

Both national parties have put the blinders on and charged recklessly into this moment in history. Do our representatives work to improve our country or to top each other?

Do the leaders of the parties even care about most of us?

Within the parameters of our two major parties there are extreme factions that believe any behavior is justified. Burning cities? Storming our Capitol? There are many rifts between our citizens.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A riot is the voice of the unheard.” This remains true.

Are the voices of rural America being heard? Are the voices of people of color being heard? Are the voices of the working class being heard? Do we have a mass media that writes press releases or news? Can we have a rebirth of unbiased reporting? Will technology companies continue to filter and cancel our freedom of speech?

Let us drop anchor on this ship of fools momentarily and look at a compass together. Let us sit for a few moments on a bench and discuss our grievances rather than acting on our worst instincts to wound.

There are many problems to address and we need everyone to start working together. The first step to fixing a schoolyard conflict is cooling down for a few minutes and then listening to each other.

Instead of feeding conflict let us see where we can agree—the humanity of your enemy may emerge.

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