Chicken Little: “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
F.D.R.: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Chicken Little: But, you don’t understand. The sky is falling; the world as we know it is coming to an end.
F.D.R.: Slow down and take a deep breath. Why do you think the sky is falling?
Chicken Little: Because it hit me in the head. Paul Ryan tells me that his new tax plan is going to save me lots of money; but the New York Times tells me that Paul Ryan’s plan is selling me down the drain. I can’t believe anyone anymore.
F.D.R.: Granted that truth is being bent, but how does that equate to the end of the world?
Chicken Little: When our leaders can’t agree on anything and government is deadlocked, we are in BIG trouble.
F.D.R.: But, the United States has always been rather resilient. The pendulum swings in both directions—sometimes too far to the right or to the left. We, the people, always seem to find a way to bring it back to the middle.
Chicken Little: But it feels different now! No longer is Congress a place when pragmatism thrives. It’s ideology verses ideology. And now, we-the-people seem to embrace racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.
F.D.R.: There you go again, jumping to the most radical conclusion. What about all the good that our nation has done in the world.
Chicken Little: And now we are the laughingstock of the world. No one respects us. Other nations see our president as a child having tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.
F.D.R.: Do you think that we’ve totally lost our positive leadership role in the world forever?
Chicken Little: Well, to be truthful, I’m wondering if we are well on the way to the demise faced by other great nations in world history—Rome, the Golden Age of Greece, the British Empire, and so many more.
F.D.R.: Maybe, instead of full collapse, what we are experiencing is the finding a new role in international politics. Maybe we have had too much influence, for our own good and the world’s. Maybe this is the opportunity for the rest of the nations of world to step and take their rightful place as leaders.
Chicken Little: And, as that happens, maybe we will collapse internally—socially, economically, and politically. In fact, maybe we have already collapsed spiritually.
F.D.R.: What do you mean when you say that we may already have collapsed spiritually.
Chicken Little: The American spirit has always been a “can do” pragmatism. If something is wrong, we fix it—maybe not perfectly, but we continue to make little adjustments along the way. Now it seems as if the only option is an ideological one. It’s either my way or the highway!
F.D.R.: I wonder if a part of our problem is that we have become afraid. On the one hand, it looks as if we are afraid of each other. But what we really fear is the boxes, the ideological harangues, we have locked ourselves into. We have been caught up in fearing our fears.
Chicken Little: You may be on to something. Say some more!
F.D.R.: Maybe those we disagree with are not the enemy. Maybe the enemy is the distance we have put between ourselves, the walls we build to keep us apart and isolated from one another.
Chicken Little: Maybe if all of us who feel that the sky is falling—on both sides of the issues facing our nation—got together and actually talked as neighbors…
F.D.R.: Exactly! What if we began our conversation together by sharing our fears—fears about family, jobs, health, growing older, social solidarity, …—maybe we would find more in common with each other. Maybe then, and only then, could we begin to think about the big issues that face our society.
Chicken Little: So, maybe the suspicion that the sky is falling is the impetus we need to begin talking with one another.
F.D.R.: And , maybe our most fearsome fears are the beginning place for those conversations.