Reclaiming Our Time

Barbara Stoner
3 min readSep 12, 2021

Joe Biden spoke for all of us on Friday when he said that we had had enough of this nonsense. When one full quarter of the country is equating a roundup by a gestapo with efforts to save them from a death dealing disease, we have had more than enough. They may not care that their children die, but the rest of us do. I hope they sing “The Star Spangled Banner” as those tiny coffins are lowered into the ground. The rest of us are singing a different tune.

There is a lot being written these days about the end of the American Dream. A dream, I maintain, that has or should have a lot more to do with community, acceptance, helping hands and possibilities than it has to do with the accumulation of wealth. There was once, as I have remembered elsewhere, an Era of Good Feelings.

The Era of Good Feelings marked a period in the political history of the United States that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans in the aftermath of the War of 1812. The era saw the collapse of the Federalist Party and an end to the bitter partisan disputes between it and the dominant Democratic-Republican Party during the First Party System. President James Monroe strove to downplay partisan affiliation in making his nominations, with the ultimate goal of national unity and eliminating political parties altogether from national politics.

In that post, I posited a current Era of Bad Feelings, which does seem to permeate the nation, the nation’s airwaves at any rate, and I might question this more* if it were not for the many verifiable instances of legislatures passing laws which seem intended to harm people or of individual legislators standing in the way of passing laws intended to help people. And then there is the footage of people around the country. People shouting. Threatening. Promises of violence to come. And on top of it all, hospitals filled with the unvaccinated.

*I am personally spared much of this. I live on a quiet suburban street in Madison, Wisconsin. Fairly lily white so far as I can determine. And while being on both Facebook and Twitter, I seem to have lucked out in my friends and followers since I get few instances of hate porn and then only things shared in order to declare an opposition.

And yet. And yet. As Robert Heinlein once said,

I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten thousand honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but it is a force stronger than crime.

And so, while I think it entirely possible that there will be folks eager to turn a neighbor in for violating the egregious law recently passed in Texas, and that the roads leading to the polling booths may be more difficult to travel, and that way too many of the unvaccinated will be carried from the hospital to a refrigerated truck, I also have a sliver of faith that these things will be ameliorated somehow. Ameliorated by ordinary citizens who cannot let these things stand. By the rest of us.

In a congressional hearing, if someone is threatening to take up a questioner’s time by stonewalling the Congresscritter can “reclaim” her time. That is, get some of the time allotted to her put back on the clock.

We will not be able to reclaim our time from those who have stolen it from us, not to mention the lives broken and lost. But perhaps we can reach out to those who have stolen it and say, “Here. It’s been tough on all of us. Have a sandwich.” As another famous guy is reported to have said, “Forgive them. They knew not what they were doing.”