Waiting for Color,  Waiting for Hope: Past Presidents Should Call a Temporary Break from the Tradition of Silence

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The Vineyard by Wayne King.

Wayne King originally submitted this column  before McCain, Obama and George W. Bush had spoken out this week. 

By Wayne D. King,
The View From Rattlesnake Ridge

The view from Rattlesnake Ridge this week has been sobering. Either autumn’s show is very late to arrive or it’s not coming; at least not in the style to which we are accustomed.

Every morning I arise hoping that somehow the hand of the Great Spirit will have swept through during the night turning the greens to to orange and yellow and red but so far I have been disappointed.

There is enough green remaining on the mountains that hope still abides but if the maples outside our post office, usually a bright orange at this time, are any indication hope will not abide for long, today they are a dry brown and likely to devoid of foliage within the week.

There is a Sugar Maple at the home of my neighbor, Peter, that is always the most stunning orange this week. I have watched children playing in her leaves beneath a cerulean sky, laughing and throwing leaves into the air; reaching for them as they flutter back to earth.  Today it is as if that beautiful tree is fighting to give us even a hint of her former glory. Most of her leaves are gone but among the few that remain some still hint at what use to be.

Wayne D. King of Rumney

Whether the colors of the fall, or lack thereof, reflect the changes wrought by a dry summer and autumn or presage the more ominous changes of a shifting climate, we will not know until time has unveiled truth.

In years past you could not have kept me from reveling in the glory of this moment. Even a rainy, or foggy day would find me wandering the woods and the mountain trails, camera in hand.  I would often find myself explaining to others how the overcast day brought out the colors and created ever shifting moods in the landscape.

Today, the drabness of the landscape reflects a sorrow clouding my own inner spirit. As much as I fear for my mountains, I am distracted from that because I fear more for my country.

In the span of less than a year we have gone from the leader of the free world and the standard bearer for a world where tolerance, civility, resilience and compassion provide hope and a reason for optimism to even those suffering under the yoke of tyranny; to a country that coddles those tyrants who oppress their people and walks away from its leadership role on the great issues of our time, again and again.

Only four years ago the United States military and an “army” of healthcare workers and volunteers from around the world prevented the Ebola outbreak in Guinea from becoming a worldwide pandemic. Who today believes we would step up to prevent that?

Two years ago it appeared that the Paris Climate talks were going to end without agreement when the President of the United States stepped in and brokered a final agreement. The entire world celebrated. Would the world celebrate with us today?

In 2008 the world economy was on the verge of collapse the outgoing President George W. Bush and the incoming President Barack Obama put aside partisan differences to agree on a set of emergency measures to save the international economic system. Between those measures and the further action taken by the Obama Administration the United States averted a world wide depression and ushered in the longest period of sustained economic growth of the modern era. Could we expect such statesmanship today?

Republican members of Congress are paralyzed by fear; Democrats are incapacitated by ambition, but we need them now. We cannot wait three years for leaders to emerge.

I know that the tradition of restraint by former Presidents is almost sacrosanct but perilous times call for unprecedented measures.  Whether they cooperate to step forward together or simply speak out individually we need our living past Presidents to speak out; leaders who still believe in the transformative possibilities of America. Leaders who still believe in the American dream and the possibilities and power of extending that dream to every American without regard to race, color or creed.

We need leaders who will say that America was already great before, when we didn’t need to brag about it, when actions spoke louder than words. Leaders who know that systematically dismantling all that has made us great will only make us weak and irrelevant.

Jimmy, Stop being the greatest Ex-President long enough to weigh in.

Stop shaking your head in disgust Papa Bush. Do something about it. The entire nation is proud of the sacrifices you made for our country, don’t let one man make them meaningless.

Laura, tell “W” it’s time to stop clearing brush. It’s time to dust off his kickers and remind us that he’s still relevant and he’s not going to let the people who elected him for two terms down.

Bill, Hillary had her moment in the sun, you don’t have to stand in the background now. Step up.

Barack, stop yelling at the TV and get out here. We know you deserve some rest after the last eight years but there will be plenty of time to rest after this fight is over.

All of you . . . we don’t expect you to agree on every little thing. Just the big stuff. The moral leadership of the planet, The First Amendment, The Bill of Rights, Nuclear Non-proliferation, stuff like that. . .

As Nobel laureate Bob Dylan said, “There’s a battle outside and it’s raging.”

About Wayne D. King: Wayne King is an author, artist, activist and recovering politician. A three term State Senator, he was the 1994 Democratic nominee for Governor and most recently the CEO of MOP Environmental Solutions Inc., a public company in the environmental cleanup space.  His art is exhibited nationally in galleries and he has published three books of his images. His most recent novel “Sacred Trust”  a vicarious, high voltage adventure to stop a private powerline has been published on Amazon.com as an ebook (http://bit.ly/STrust ) with the paper edition due in Mid-October. He lives in Rumney at the base of Rattlesnake Ridge. His website is:http://bit.ly/WayneDKing

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