The Veneer of Civilization

Author: Gary Hart

The veneer of civilization is wearing thin.  Or is it just a confluence of bad news all at once.  Hard to tell.  And sometimes it just depends on your mood upon awakening.

Those of us whose natural disposition is fundamentally optimistic tend to believe (or at least want to believe) that step by step mankind is progressing, not evenly or even consistently, but struggling for inclusiveness, decency, and justice.

Then there is a war, a terrorist attack, an official murder, or even a virus.

The realists say, “that’s life, get used to it.”  Two steps forward, one step back.  Or is it the other way around?

Our outlook on life’s uneven events is influenced by forces mostly beyond our control.  The evening news, somewhere between gloomy and dreadful for 28 minutes and relieved only at the close by a “boy rescues puppy” feel-good story.  Civil wars, religious wars, cocaine wars, racial wars half-way round the world.

Then there is always the possibility that our fellow citizens, even a large minority of them, might hand power over the nation to a figure wholly unprepared by experience, disposition, mental fitness, or moral authority to lead a nation that claims to have its eyes on the stars.

Even if you have that climb-every-mountain optimism, that last thought will give you pause.

Between viruses, official murders, and a crumbling economy not a lot to feel good about these days.

And on top of all that, a national election looms five months away.  And serious people are beginning to count the ways in which American democracy and the Republic for which it stands can leave the tracks.  Secret presidential powers, to be opened only in a national emergency…that only the president can declare…are on the shelf awaiting any autocrat or tyrant who might want to unwrap them.

Let us count the avenues of emergency: a twice-as-fierce virus returns in October; riots sponsored by hate groups spring up; reports of massive voter fraud are heard in swing States; Iran has begun underground nuclear testing; foreign sources (Russia?, China?) are hacking into voting machines; and on and on.

A president trailing measurably in late polls could find any of these grounds for declaring a national emergency and ordering postponement of an election.  Anyone doubt where the Department of Justice stands on this?

Of course, the president has no Constitutional authority to postpone an election.  But that does not mean he cannot try.  And five Supreme Court justices are heard to say “aye”.

The forces of pessimism must be resisted.  But bad things sometimes happen, and bad times make them worse.  So, prudence alone dictates that it is better to be prepared for unprecedented events than to wake up some morning in November and be unpleasantly surprised.

So, prudent patriots, given the political roller-coaster of the past three plus years, have little choice but to anticipate and prepare for fall events that have no precedent.

The federal system could well be tested in ways not seen since our terrible Civil War.  Elections are conducted and the results certified by the States.  Provisions are made in our Constitution for results that are unclear or contested.  Our federal judicial system, only recently being manipulated by Senate Republican partisans, should be a bulwark of justice for the nation.

But the backbone of the Republic are the patriots.  They stand guard. And for them we say a prayer: Guard our nation for our children even more than for ourselves.  Be stewards of justice.  Protect our freedoms.  Make us worthy of the sacrifices of the generations that have gone before.  Help our flag represent everyone of us equally.  Raise up new generations of men and women who believe in the principles upon which we were founded.

God please bless and protect the United States of America.

11 Responses to “The Veneer of Civilization”


    Just as things seem doom and gloom, only the author of this article, in revealing his doom and gloom, reveals it with such enthusiasm for better governance for all, and concern for those of us a generation and more younger than him, that it, his enthusiasm and concern, relieves that same doom and gloom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Inspiration is a quality, rarer than many, Senator Hart, as writer and thinker, you have it.

    As far as whether that makes a difference to the content of this post, who knows? It makes a difference to me, as sad , more frustrated, as someone in my prime of middle age with much to offer and nowhere to offer it, in a climate of division and a terrain of discord.But offer it I do, refreshed by this site and few others.

    The US and UK, had a silly, sadly, unnecessary war to achieve that very republic so new, one that, like others could have arisen without bloodshed, if patience had been a virtue then. NObody can ever convince me, that George the King was so bad, George Washington so good, that a few years of diplomacy would not have got the same results. Similarly the Civil War.

    A nation founded on a war, must guard against more of it. The English had a civil war a century before the war of independence, two before the American civil war. Only to invite the son of the king whose head had been cut off, to ascend to the throne.

    War, revolution, violence, often the way, rarely the best way.

    Be vigilant but nobody must be desperate. American and British democracy, like our peoples, are exceptional at best, eccentric at worst.

  2. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    (cue the music): “Meet the new boss, same a the old boss, . . . But we won’t get fooled again.” The Who.

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Here is wishing you all the very best when it comes to keeping your Republic. It’s so hard to believe what I just wrote.

    There is going to be a solidarity protest in my city in sunny southern Ontario tomorrow. Unfortunately, I have to work. But, I’ll be there in spirit. Maybe it will be possible to sneak a peak online.

    May God bless the United States and may God protect your troops and ours.

  4. Michael Says:

    “We all watch with horror and consternation at what’s going on in the United States,” Justin Trudeau said that today at a press conference. Think about that.

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    He kink of looked like a bloody deer in headlights as he stood there silent for 21 long seconds. If you ask me, he looked dumbfounded as to what was the appropriate thing to say. It took him 21 seconds too long. Very disappointing …

  6. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Oh my gods, please tell me there’s an editor in the house!

  7. Neil McCarthy Says:

    No editor, Elizabeth. Proof positive that we are all writing our own stuff.

  8. Neil McCarthy Says:

    On a positive note, I found some cause for vigilant optimism this past weekend. In Newark, NJ. For any interested, here it is — “How Newark Honored George Floyd . . . And Schooled America” at

  9. gary hart Says:

    The editor tried mightily to address your issue, Elizabeth, but to no avail. GH

  10. Paul G Says:


    “The evening news, somewhere between gloomy and dreadful for 28 minutes and relieved only at the close by a “boy rescues puppy” feel-good story. Civil wars, religious wars, cocaine wars, racial wars half-way round the world.” – US Senator Hart

    On my arrival in America from Ireland in 1968 I remember my shock on seeing US “peace officers” wearing weapons of death (guns) at an Earth, Wind & Fire concert. But then I began to see American media’s “world news” coverage of mostly evil trumping good.

    Heralded by gloomy drumbeats, images of wars and fires at home and abroad dominated ABC, CBS, and NBC news to the exclusion of good elsewhere on earth (without a “puppy story,” which now seems a constant fix like candy to a child after oral medicine).

    If it took European countries 1000+ years to put seemingly endless wars in their rear-view mirror most of the time since WWII, how long will it take America to juggle the profitable fixation with evil and put a puppy first at least some of the time?

    A recent return to the old country revealed garda siochana (guardians of peace) now wearing guns in the cities. Perhaps the guardians may soon be renamed “military police”? Missing puppies are no longer a top story even in the countryside parish.

    But, in a healthy sign of possible recovery, ordinary people all over our Earth are drawing a protest line to restore true peace officers after a passer-by video recorded the gross indignity of slow suffocation to death of a prone handcuffed man by a militarized US police officer and his three gun-slinging fellow officers.

    Like smoke from a volcano this shocking indifference signals too-long-hidden systemic injustices buried by sanatized “fire” coverage so close to home for too long.

    (Please see and / or share: &

    “The security of the state is secondary to the dignity of the individual.”
    – Pope John Paul II, north east Ireland, 1979

  11. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Oh, well, thanks for trying, Senator!

    As for the Canadian prime minister, he’s taking a lot of heat from people who say he hesitated because he didn’t want to deal with the inevitable wrath of Trump, our two countries are so interdependent, you know.

    Well, he could have spent those 21 seconds making some non-verbal gestures, then. At least by doing that he wouldn’t have looked so weak. And, besides, I’m sure Trump wouldn’t have been allowed to get away with doing anything drastic. I mean, he just THINKS that he’s a dictator.

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