The 21st Century – Two Decades & Counting

From hanging chads, through the demise of Bin Laden to the wrath of biblical plague engulfing the world –  navigating the 21st century has been one helluva ride.

But who can imagine what’s next to come without understanding the past.  As Ken Burns once so poignantly included in one of his historical pieces on the making of America – “We are who we were.”

Reacting to the current climate of mean spirited retribution, the blame game has become a popular pastime; without thinking, many dance to an ugly song created by those who occupy the seat of power and the Oval Office.   We point fingers, chastise, claim the so-called moral high ground with exclusive and virtuous principles, supposedly beyond the reach of the common man.  

What accounts for these divisions?  Isn’t he only a symptom of what’s wrong with the system in general, as well as where we have all gone wrong as a people?

While the 2016 election was an epiphany for some and confusing to others, the real turning point occurred on January 20, 2001.  The fate of a nation was left hanging, literally, with a few pieces of tattered paper in Florida.  If but for those hanging chads, the world might have had a most powerful leader with a clear vision re: the danger of climate change with potentially disastrous effects and, as history has borne out, surely ahead of his time.

Thinking that dark period had been left behind, we welcomed an eloquent man into the White House with his young family, hoping for a second coming of Camelot.  But the dreams of some purists were dashed as remaining socio-political realities had to be addressed.  With a midnight raid on the concrete walls in a South Asian suburb, a force of ‘evil’ was eliminated, once and for all, we hoped.

A failure of vision and complacency to put up with less than the “best and brightest” left us with what some still refuse to believe was an obvious choice in 2016.  

Even the lefty faithful continue to debate among themselves as they did then, refusing to acknowledge the ‘clear and present danger’ in which we find ourselves today – a con man, a criminal, a master manipulator of emotion at the helm, steering our fragile ship into a world beset by a plague of truly biblical proportions. What next?

The choice is ours.  Practice does not make perfect; only perfect practice can do so.  As a people of these United States, we must strive to place our socio/politico/economic differences aside in search of that curiously and still elusive higher ideal.   In words spoken more than 50 years ago but no less relevant today –


The Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile …Robert F. Kennedy

Thomas Cole is a New Orleans photographer. Ok September 1, 2019, Big Easy Magazine interviewed Mr. Cole.  He recently published Standing in the Shadows: New Orleans in Focus

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