Las Vegas Sun

September 30, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Is Tea Partyers’ hate really that strong?

Movement’s anger at government and its workers is misdirected

Happy Easter.

Christians all over the world celebrate Easter today. It is a time for rejoicing, a time for counting blessings and a time to be thinking about matters much greater than our own.

Easter’s message, though, should not be reserved just for Christians or just for the faithful because it is a message of hope and of all that is good in our fellow men.

I think about Easter as I have been considering what has been taking place in our country, our state and here at home. And I am having trouble understanding how we square the message of Easter with the messages that are being sent almost hourly by people across the country.

We are all surrounded by fear, by anger and by frustration. It is palpable and it grips us throughout our days and nights. Some of it — much of it — is justified as the economic meltdown and its consequences have caused difficulties for everyone, most of whom had little or nothing to do with the causes of the financial disaster.

Somehow, though, we have allowed our fear to consume us to the extent that we can no longer see the difference between what is real and what is not and what is fact and what is fiction. And that fear has turned to anger in many cases and frustration in most.

I suppose the obvious example of what I am talking about is last week’s gathering in Searchlight. I am happy for the merchants in that small town — I assume they did a year’s worth of business that day. But I am also saddened that so many people felt so aggrieved that they had to drive their campers, trucks, cars and buses to a place that most people need go to only once to realize they don’t want to go there again. With apologies to our good senator, Harry Reid.

It doesn’t matter whether it was 1,000 or 10,000 people who showed up to give support to the Tea Party movement. What matters is the reason so many people felt obligated to go: They are, to quote the movie “Network,” fed up and they are not going to take it anymore.

The question that looms large, though, is fed up with what? With whom?

And that is where the “F” words — fear and frustration — come into play.

As best I can tell, some people believe that someone, anyone, else is responsible for whatever our problems are. To some extent, I agree with them. After all, in my mind I did nothing wrong over the past 15 years. In fact, I tried to do everything right. And, yet, when the economic tsunami hit, my family’s faith and investment in Las Vegas were rewarded with a meltdown the likes of which no one could have predicted. That has caused a great deal of fear and frustration. And, in some cases, anger.

But we know with whom to be angry. We have to look inward for much of the blame. We had too much faith in the unimpeded growth of Las Vegas, too much faith in the belief that things would only go up and never come down so precipitously. But, having faith in your community, your friends and your dreams is not a bad thing.

Losing faith, though, can be serious.

Easter’s message is a simple one. It is about love and redemption. I didn’t see much love of fellow men in Searchlight last week. I heard a lot of hate, though. Do the folks who have claimed the Tea Party as their express ride to better government really believe they are more patriotic than the thousands of people who show up every day to work for the government — local, state and national — on their behalf? While the rest of us are tending to our own businesses, our own families and our own challenges, is it fair to believe that those who earn government paychecks are working overtime to do us harm?

There are people everywhere who don’t carry their own weight. Those aside, does anyone really believe the people who have been attracted to public service — as opposed to the rest of us who just don’t have the desire, the time or the inclination to work for the benefit of others — are less American than the folks who braved the winds and Porta Potties in Searchlight?

Isn’t there enough hate in the world directed at us because of who we are, how we live and what we believe? Why do we have to manufacture our own and aim it at people who, for the most part, are just trying to do the right thing the best way they can?

I don’t see the protesters and naysayers taking oaths of office, government salaries and citizen ridicule to work on behalf of their fellow citizens. All I hear are anger-laden complaints.

And what about redemption? Isn’t that what Easter is all about? Didn’t Jesus make the ultimate sacrifice to redeem the rest of the world from its sins? Where does it say the Tea Party or any other aggrieved group of citizens needs to take that one on, too?

I know it is every citizen’s right to complain, and I have done my share over the years. But mine has never been filled with hate. I don’t believe all politicians lie. And I don’t believe I have a corner on the truth. And, for certain, I am careful about what I choose to believe of what comes over the Internet — a medium filled with junk that is designed to inflame our passions, play with our emotions and lead us down the path of falsity and away from truth.

That doesn’t make me better, just better informed.

I’m not complaining about people who are frustrated, angry and scared. That’s most folks today. But, I am concerned about those who hear the truth — that jobs are starting to come back, that the economy is beginning to rebound ever so slightly and that major financial disaster was averted last year — and refuse to believe it, choosing instead to see socialists, communists and anti-American sleepers under every bed. We have been there and done that — 60 years ago it almost destroyed this nation.

Easter brings with it a message of love, redemption and hope. I am not asking people to believe me when I say that most elected officials and government workers are good and decent people who work hard and try to do what is right.

What I am asking of those individuals, who are so angry that they point fingers of blame in so many of the wrong places, is to step back and ask themselves a question that is on so many car bumpers in cities across this country.

On this Easter, ask yourselves, “What would Jesus do? How would Jesus act? Who would Jesus blame?”

Happy Easter.

Brian Greenspun is editor of the Las Vegas Sun.