Transition to Greatness


Give me a fucking break.

LANGUAGE! Back when I worked at the Y, “language” was my admonishment when I heard people, usually in the men’s locker room, swearing. I have the cursing conversation frequently with my kids. “Use your vocabulary, see if you can find a better word. Not only will people think you’re more intelligent, but you’re more apt to nail the meaning just right.” But sometimes the best word is the worst word.

Transition to Greatness… Give me a fucking break.

Transition, from its Latin etymology, literally means ‘to go across.’ It implies standing at an edge, the old behind you, the new just out of reach, a step away. Before the 2016 election, Donald Trump told us he planned to Make America Great Again. This time around he wants to Keep America Great. Recently, as a nod to how screwed up things have gotten, he’s modified his slogan. Transition to Greatness. Even the Trumpers can’t look past the mayhem of his presidency. America is so far away from greatness right now, we’ll need GPS to even locate it.

Biden is squandering an opportunity here. I think he should make his campaign slogan Make America Great Again. I think we’re all missing our great, dull past at this point.

Again. This implies that America had greatness in its past. I suppose your personal perspective matters to determine if this is true. Inventors: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford. This list goes on to the present day. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk. Yes, we’re great at making new crap to sell.

Many people who identify as patriotic point to the birth of America as a period of greatness. The revolutionaries who created our nation are now known as our founding fathers. OK, fine. They were also a group of men and women who decided they had lived with the status quo long enough. Just like now, it became a grassroots time to push back and fight the powers that be. Dissent from our tyrannical oppressors reached a climax with the best-known American rebellion of all: the Boston Tea Party. The tensions from that protest didn’t calm down until after the Revolutionary War.

That period of history that President Trump and his supporters remember as great—a time when no one pointed fingers at them and said privileged, or worse, racist—was a period of oppression. No one spoke out because they couldn’t speak. It’s hard to talk with a knee on your neck. Yesterday, I read about President Trump’s visit to Dallas’ Gateway mega-church. It was billed as a round-table discussion on justice disparities. Every now and then I read an article that makes me grumble out loud. This was one of them.

Trump warned against labeling “tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots.” Trump’s rhetoric has been consistent since he initially tossed his hat in the ring of the 2016 election. He has worked to widen divisions between white Americans and people of color, and he’s issued a steady stream of derogatory comments attempting to tear down at anyone who isn’t of European descent. Sixty-three million people voted for Trump last time around. It seems to me that tens of millions of Americans actually are bigots.

Like many white people, I’m suddenly reading a lot about white privilege and the effects of systemic racism in America. I’m learning that I’m part of the problem. If you asked me a couple of weeks ago, I would have said “No, not me, I’m one of the good guys.” I believe in equal rights for all. I speak up when someone makes racial comments. But I haven’t done a single thing to alter (and often even recognize) the dynamic in America that lifts me up while holding others down.

Trump has now announced his intention to foster racial reconciliation. He feels that this project will go “quickly and easily.” He’s wrong, of course; it’s almost a laughable statement. Most white people, including me, don’t even fully understand the problem yet. We all have a ton of work to do for anything to improve. It will be a long, nonlinear process that will undoubtedly be painful much of the time. We all need to expect perfection but also be willing to endure slow, incremental change.

Hopefully, today’s revolution will continue to gain traction into the future, and we won’t need another war to finally become allies. Let’s start by electing a new president. We can call this moment our Transition to Healing.

17 thoughts on “Transition to Greatness

  1. Well said! Honestly, unless one is Native American, there’s not a lot to be proud of in any of our history. I’d like to see History being taught correctly, from the viewpoints of all the peoples involved. Maybe if we didn’t have entitlement passed out with the “Pledge Of Allegiance” every day beginning at age 5, we’d all have more understanding and acceptance.

    What the Orange Idjit is doing just to environmental protections makes him evil.
    Sorry for ranting in your comments. The state of our government raises my blood pressure!


    • This space is open to rants. Based on what my kids have learned, the current curriculum is far more accurate than the manifest destiny crap we were fed in history class. No one is saying euro-american = bad, but they definitely have a sense that the land was grabbed. They learned about the trail of tears in grade school. Environment! With all the discussion about pandemics, the economy and racial relations, the environment is off the table. We don’t have enough bandwidth to deal with two stories much less four. But our environmental problems are still worsening and that story will grace the front page this summer too. We’ve reached a tipping point of inattentiveness.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well said. Change is long overdue, especially since the underlying political system facilitates the current social and institutional situation. Do you think it is a realistic concern that Trump will try and move the election?


    • A month ago I would have said ‘yes, this is too dangerous a time for people to gather to vote.’ Now, I think it would be hard for him to make that argument. Of course November is a ways away and we might be second or third waving our way into the history books. No matter what happens, if he loses, he’ll claim voter fraud. It will be interesting (and scary) to see how far he takes that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you – I never realized how many bigots there are until Trump was elected and seeing their posters and their behavior. It’s like they finally had a leader to foster their dark side and let it grow. It’s really scary. And Biden, my gosh, he does have such an opportunity here and he keeps making me shake my head. I was one of those “no, not me I’m a good guy” too. I’m starting to realized the problem is WAY larger than I had realized. Which makes me think Trump doesn’t have a clue (again) when he says change will be quick. Changing our leader can’t happen quick enough.


  4. I have a tiny bit of optimism now that revered generals have spoken out forcefully. There’s a message there to Trump: “We won’t back you in an unconstitutional manner.” Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Do you remember how much crap Michelle Obama got when she said “For the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country…”? It is entirely understandable.

    I read a poster held (by a white woman) at a BLM rally that said something like this: “if it had been my son on the ground calling out for me with his last breath, I would burn the fucking town down too.” My sentiments exactly. I used to admonish “language” many times when I was a school teacher, but sometimes, to make a point…


    • People need to get over “America”. Lot’s of pluses, sure, but plenty of minuses too. I think we’re all brainwashed at an early age to revere all things american. Think of the USA chant at the Olympics. I’m frequently embarrassed by Americans.


  6. I grew up in the 50s and 60s. I heard racist language at the dinner table. It took me a long time to understand what was being said. All of that lives in me, in my memory, and I often wonder how it affects my attitudes today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I don’t remember any racism at my home, my next door neighbors were black and their son was one of my closest friends. I still catch myself making biased assumptions based on race. I think it’s deep inside of us–all of us–and it’s going to take decades to wash away. Step one is understanding the problem.


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