A Hope for Good

The good that will lift us all.

"Good evening. The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history.’’

A noted television newscaster uttered those words at a momentous time in our history. Given the tumultuous events of President Donald Trump’s first month in office, they could have been spoken just a few weeks ago. But it was NBC News’ John Chancellor who delivered that sober assessment more than four decades ago, on the night of Oct. 20, 1973, as the network interrupted regular programming to report the latest stunning development in the Watergate scandal. 

It was reality TV being played out at the White House and would become known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.’’ Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy had refused President Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor trying to obtain secret tapes recorded in the Oval Office. Both men were fired, and the third official down the line, the solicitor general, finally carried out the dirty deed against the prosecutor, Archibald Cox. 

“All of this adds up to a totally unprecedented situation, a grave and profound crisis in which the President has set himself against his own attorney general and the Department of Justice,’’ Chancellor continued in his report. “Nothing like this has ever happened before.’’

I remember sitting at home with my parents watching all of this, wondering—having just turned 18—where the country was headed. Interestingly enough, that night was the first thing I thought of in late January when President Trump fired the acting attorney general because she refused to enforce his immigration ban.

Nearly 44 years later, I still wonder where we’re headed. In college, I used to jot down 150-word essays, speaking to my future self and wondering what the world—and I—would be like in 10, 20, 30 years. In none of those missives did I ever fear for the survival of our democracy. Yet, no one can deny that the ascendancy of Trump, whether you support him or despise the man, has been a time of enormous social and constitutional upheaval. And frankly when I heard a recent snippet of a commentary by—of all people—Gregg Popovich, coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, it jarred me more than any other statement made about the change in government.

 “My big fear,’’ Popovich told an interviewer, “is we are Rome.’’

Certainly, empires rise and fall. Take the long view, and you realize the United States hasn’t been around that long—not even 250 years. Think about it too long, and you’ll start to see America as a blip on the timeline of world history—a scary thought.

Yet, while there is plenty that can bring us down, there is much that can lift us up, and we see it in our community every day. Part of my mission is to reflect that spirit in this magazine. In January, our “Kids Who Care’’ cover story drew tremendous reader response, with stories ranging from youngsters helping to heal the heartbreak of the Pulse shooting to a teenager organizing a clothing giveaway for less fortunate kids. Good things happening in the arts continue to inspire us, such as the grassroots Central Florida Community Arts, which welcomes all comers to perform, regardless of their experience. Just as inspiring is to see a superstar athlete like the Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan, featured in this issue, take her job as a role model for girls so seriously. As one girl said when asked why she admires Morgan: “She never gives up. Even if she loses the ball, she keeps trying.’’

While Popovich and others have a big fear that we are Rome, headed for a fall, my big hope is we are good—that for all the accounts of dishonesty and ignorance in this empire, there are many more stories about caring and shining a light in darkness. And I urge you to let me know when you see or hear about them; my email address is below.

 Because, even if we lose the ball, we have to keep trying. Eventually, we’ll get it back.


Categories: Column