Gazette-Mail editorial: Righting a troubled nation

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These are biblical times springing to mind visions of plague, pestilence and other signs of the end of days.

Better minds than ours might make sense of it all referring to the Book of Revelation, but for our part, more relevant passages can be found in the Old Testament, where the prophet Hosea’s salient and enduringly pertinent lament appears: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

The current state of affairs affirms the corrosive powers of ignorance, not in today’s common use of the term but in its actual definition: lack of knowledge, education or awareness.

In West Virginia and across America, the storms are raging. COVID-19 is clinging to the country like a cancer. History’s most powerful economy is sputtering. Racial wounds are open and festering. Politicians in the highest offices and in legislative halls are fiddling while cities burn. Where leadership is needed there is only a vast, yawning void.

This might not be how the end comes. National narcissism tends to equate humanity’s fate with the country’s. But this is how great societies fall, dating to mankind’s dawn. It isn’t disease and unrest that kill them but hubris, that myopic and baseless self-confidence which naturally collapses in the face of adversity.

Left with few alternatives, Americans have sent to political office leaders in title only, leaders who lack the mental and moral fiber required for the task of leadership. So it is that 244 years after the Founders set about revolution, these United States crumble into disunity amid billows of pandemic and strife.

Answers heretofore have come only in the form of fingers jabbed in the direction of others, age-old ideological lines transforming before the eyes of the people into battle lines. One side fumes against the other, with no one standing above the fray pointing to a better way. Absent today are the great unifiers who steered us through choppy seas in eras past.

If there is any hope to be found, it is not in the corridors of political power, for those who inhabit such places have failed us and will only do so again. Hope must be derived from within, from the people of this state and the 49 remaining. If this great experiment is to continue, the people and not their elected “leaders” will have to continue it. If there is a pathway past pandemic, economic ruin and a new civil war, the people and not their elected “leaders” will have to find it.

That will happen only if we turn to rationale, respect and empathy, rather than the fear, rage and acrimony that currently threaten to destroy us. Clearheaded, sound-minded and serious people need to step to the fore and the remainder of us with them to find a way out of the darkness.

Otherwise, Hosea’s words for the high priests of his day will be ours and our children’s for the present day and future days long to come, and the light of America’s brightest hours will be extinguished.

Funerals for Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Adkins, Ralph - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Dunn, Charles - 1 p.m., streaming live, see obituary.

Hughes, Douglas - 6 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Jones, Barbara - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Kirk, John - 11 a.m., Holstein Cemetery, Dartmont.

Walker, Pamela - 2 p.m., Asbury United Methodist Church Cemetery, Asbury.