Point of View: Part of a River

Often nations conspire against themselves, as we seem to be doing

So (cough, cough) we are encouraging more burning of coal, while China, they say, is about to take the lead in the manufacture of electric cars. 

What’s wrong with this picture; haven’t we always been the presumptive leader of the world — the can-do society, no challenge too great, all for one and one for all, leading the charge into the future? 

Can’t imagine an end to America’s hegemony? History can. It’s always been about ebb and flow. Often nations conspire against themselves, as we seem to be doing. Yes, we are, in certain respects, free, all well and good, but of what value is this freedom if through it we come apart at the seams, if our vaunted freedom leads to fissures rather than to a shared purpose?

Communications never were better, the means for reaching consensus never were better, yet we don’t communicate, we fall way short of consensus. Will this society disintegrate because in idolizing the individual so much we forget about togetherness? 

I’m not saying this will happen, but it’s something to think about, and in doing so I am reminded of Orson and Ben Cummings’s “Killer Bees” documentary that premiered here in the Hamptons Film Festival this past week — a film chiefly about the togetherness of a team of players, individuals with singular skills, further honed by a coach, a former standout Killer Bee himself, who sees the big picture, as does his volunteer assistant, “the Michael Jordan of contemporary artists,” who says at one point that the Killer Bees — of the past, present, and future, with talents ranging from modest to great — are all part of a river. 

That is as good a metaphor as any for America, at least for the America that most of us, I think, would want to see.