Archived Opinion

Letter’s claims illustrate our current problems

To the Editor:

As I read the letter about unemployment insurance in last week’s edition of The Smoky Mountain News (“Stop the checks, get to work”), I recognized a tone that has come to dominate and pollute our civic discourse. The letter had all the elements of our current malaise. It was nasty and brutish. It was selfish and self-centered, devoid of charity. It was ignorant of fact or reason. It fed on bile and grievance, displaying both cruelty and accusation that serve less as observation than confession.

We’ve come to a place where a significant portion of the population idolizes a narcissistic con man and liar; a man whose only accomplishment and purpose is banal self-aggrandizement; a man who knows no humanity; a man who despises even his own followers treating them as marks and rubes.

What point would there be in refuting the factual errors and general misanthropy contained in the letter? There exists now a separate reality based on grudges, grievances, and conspiracy. Facts don’t matter. And so we are treated to hysterical and hyperbolic diatribes designed not to illuminate but to foster fear and division. Where is the space for civic dialogue that is so essential to our representative democracy? When one side sees life as a zero sum game, is unable to engage in civil discourse but rather revels in tossing epithets, accusation, and insults then the project that is America is on a descent to authoritarianism.

America was not conceived in perfection. Our country has always been one of aspiring, of coming into being, improving, reaching for justice and the equality of humankind. These aspirations are not well served by mythology, denial, or grasping for supremacy and privilege. A country that was meant to work for everyone works for no one except a small slice who hoard economic benefit while stoking resentment as a means of creating disunion and division among the populace.

Scripture enjoins us to love our neighbor, to stand as equals before God. My grandmother acknowledged that idea by often observing, “There but for the Grace of God go I.”, recognition of the call to humility in Micah 6:8.

The Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit asks: “What is a decent society?”

He answers: “A decent society is one whose institutions do not humiliate people. I distinguish between a decent society and a civilized one. A civilized society is one whose members do not humiliate one another, while a decent society is one whose institutions do not humiliate people.”

For 245 years we have struggled with fits and starts to create both a decent and civilized society. Diatribes like the one that appeared in these pages last week show how far we’ve strayed from our most fundamental principles and aspirations.

Mark Jamison

Whittier

Leave a comment

4 comments

  • When government steps in throwing money at a situation, too many people in our society are going to abuse what is intended as a solution or assistance. This is a prime case where the 'solution' is damaging the whole economy buy forcing small business (and some larger ones too) to drastically cut back their operations or shut down completely due to being unable to hire the necessary help they need to function. This is undeniable. Mr Jameson seems unaware of this at best or is letting his distaste for an individual blind his better judgement! Wake up sir and see what is happening to our country that was thriving and growing before the last election. Do you like paying $3 gallon for gas? Have you bought any lumber recently to build a doghouse? Many general goods and food items are rising dramatically in price. Inflation is bearing down on us like a tsunami that is going to do great damage to America and other countries. The original article last week was well thought out and stated the problem succinctly. Perhaps you should reread it...

    posted by sam hopkins

    Monday, 07/26/2021

  • Hey Mark Jamison, how about the fact that millions of people have decided not to go back to work and live off of their unemployment insurance? What do you say about that? And who do you think is paying for that and will continue to pay for that? You Socialist/Communist moron.

    posted by Phillip DAntonio

    Monday, 07/26/2021

  • Please reference a report from EMSI called Demographic Draught to gain insight to the sansdemic we are witnessing or check out their video on you tube about the sansdemic.

    posted by Linda Lamp

    Saturday, 07/24/2021

  • Excellent response, thank you!

    posted by Deni Gottlieb

    Saturday, 07/24/2021

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.