Featured Column
Week of 10.9.2006
America unsure!
          We give names to each generation. The “Me” generation. The “Beat” generation. The “Baby Boomer” generation. Generation “Y.” The “Jazz” age. Every generation has a definite personality. It’s what happens when you take a few million people, mix them together and come away with an average person that represents all those belonging to that particular generation.
           I think we’re in the middle of the “I know we’re at war, but I really don’t know what’s going on, I’m confused and frightened” generation. We are “The Look of the Eagle” generation.
          This is a time of denial. Hundreds of Iraqis are dying every week. Scores of American military are being killed every month in Iraq. We are still battling the Taliban in Afghanistan and paying a deadly price for our efforts. The youth of America are joining gun toting gangs all over our country. Our elected representatives are being jailed for the most heinous of crimes.
          Recent days have brought us the news of multiple killings of children inside our schools. Congress is enacting legislation to build a Berlin-type wall to separate the United States from our southern neighbor, Mexico.
          There is a shocking increase of drug use by members of the “Baby Boomer” generation (people now in their fifties!).
            We turn on the television news and see pictures of the grisly remnants of dozens of suicide bombings. We hear the roll call of American losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then our President appears and tells us that things are improving in our war against terrorism. We hear that Democracy is “taking hold.” We listen to the failures of government to help our citizens during and after the Katrina tragedy. We see the unfortunate, the poor, the crippled, herded together after Katrina, deprived of food, water and their own humanity and then we see elected officials posing for television, crowing about how much they have done to ease the pains wrought by Katrina.
          Americans are spending billions to avoid tragedies like 9/11 from happening again, and then we are told “it” is going to happen again. We are told that it is just a matter of “when” the terrorists will strike our country again.
          Arguments about how much torture we should allow when questioning prisoners shock and amaze us.
          Every day we are told about the billions that are being spent to protect us from a variety of tragedies – dirty bombs, poisoned water, bacterial warfare, explosions, buildings collapsing.
          Is it any wonder that millions of Americans are nervous, tired, edgy, afraid and in denial.
          My grandmother would call it “The Look of the Eagle.” She meant that vacuous look of people walking around, doing their day-to-day activities, but having their minds on something larger and more ominous. “The Look of the Eagle,” occurs when millions of families watch the news on television or on their computer and become frightened by the threats of their home town being attacked by terrorists. “The Look of the Eagle” appears when children hear of other children being mowed down in a tiny Amish school room by their neighbor. “The Look of the Eagle” comes when the father of a teenager reads about a youth gang shooting a young boy because he had on the wrong color shirt or because he was walking on the wrong side of the street.
          Americans are feeling helpless. As the world becomes a more dangerous place in which to live Americans are withdrawing into themselves and their families. Trust in the President and his cabinet; trust in our elected representatives; trust in hearing the truth about our condition is fading. Trust that the next generation will be able to live without fear of war and terrorism is fading.
          In America the Democrats and Republicans quibble, split hairs, nitpick and play the political game. The President argues that we are winning the war against insurgents, against terrorism. At the same time as his optimistic pronouncements we are told that over 4,000 Iraqi policemen have been slaughtered in the past 2 years.
          Feeling helpless, Americans are burying their fears. There is a feeling of waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” In the back of Americans’ minds lurks doubt. We ask ourselves, “Are we really safe?” We ask, “Who can we trust? Are we being told the truth?”
          In the markets, in the schools, in their cars, you can see that “Look of the Eagle” in their eyes. It’s the look of people who are living day to day with uncertainty hanging over them.
           This generation is living in a difficult time. No president, no cabinet, no Congress, no American has ever been faced with problems such as we face today.
           It is a time of nagging fear and uncertainty. Of doubt about what tomorrow will bring.
          No wonder Americans have become more cynical, less trusting, less polite, less caring about the other guy. No wonder drivers are becoming more impatient. We board airplanes after being frisked, inspected and warned.
          No wonder we see Americans waiting in lines at the supermarket or behind the wheel on the freeway, staring ahead with “The Look of the Eagle.” Life is filled with uncertainty and surprise, but we are living in extraordinary times. Threats and danger fill our subconscious.
           It appears that we will have to live with the dangers and uncertainty for years to come, but there are things that can be done to ease our anxieties.
          First, our leaders can tell us the truth, not what they want the truth to be. Americans can handle the truth. We’ve done it before – and we’ve done it nobly.
          Second, the American citizen must take a more active and intelligent role in selecting our governmental representatives.
          Third, Americans must not permit and be so lenient regarding graft, corruption and blatant political games performed by our elected officials.
          Fourth, Americans must demand that our country return to the thoughts, the actions and the moral behavior and spirit that made America great.
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger