Properly, I made it. I’m 100 years outdated in the present day. I get up each morning grateful to be alive.
Reaching my very own private centennial is trigger for a little bit of reflection on my first century — and on what the subsequent century will convey for the individuals and nation I like. To be sincere, I’m a bit frightened that I could also be in higher form than our democracy is.
I used to be deeply troubled by the assault on Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 — by supporters of former President Donald Trump making an attempt to stop the peaceable switch of energy. These considerations have solely grown with each revelation about simply how far Mr. Trump was prepared to go to remain in workplace after being rejected by voters — and about his ongoing efforts to put in loyalists in positions with the facility to sway future elections.
I don’t take the specter of authoritarianism evenly. As a younger man, I dropped out of faculty when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Military Air Forces. I flew greater than 50 missions in a B-17 bomber to defeat fascism consuming Europe. I’m a flag-waving believer in fact, justice and the American method, and I don’t perceive how so many individuals who name themselves patriots can help efforts to undermine our democracy and our Structure. It’s alarming.
On the similar time, I’ve been moved by the braveness of the handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, legal professionals and former White Home staffers who resisted Mr. Trump’s bullying. They provide me hope that Individuals can discover surprising frequent floor with family and friends whose politics differ however who are usually not prepared to sacrifice core democratic rules.
Encouraging that form of dialog was a aim of mine after we started broadcasting “All within the Household” in 1971. The sorts of subjects Archie Bunker and his household argued about — points that had been dividing Individuals from each other, comparable to racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam Warfare and Watergate — had been definitely being talked about in properties and households. They simply weren’t being acknowledged on tv.
For all his faults, Archie cherished his nation and he cherished his household, even once they referred to as him out on his ignorance and bigotries. If Archie had been round 50 years later, he most likely would have watched Fox Information. He most likely would have been a Trump voter. However I believe that the sight of the American flag getting used to assault Capitol Police would have sickened him. I hope that the resolve proven by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their dedication to exposing the reality, would have gained his respect.
It’s exceptional to think about that tv — the medium for which I’m most well-known — didn’t even exist once I was born, in 1922. The web got here alongside a long time later, after which social media. We’ve got seen that every of those applied sciences might be put to damaging use — spreading lies, sowing hatred and creating the situations for authoritarianism to take root. However that isn’t the entire story. Progressive applied sciences create new methods for us to precise ourselves, and, I hope, will enable humanity to be taught extra about itself and higher perceive each other’s concepts, failures and achievements. These applied sciences have additionally been used to create connection, group and platforms for the form of ideological sparring that may have drawn Archie to a keyboard. I can solely think about the artistic and constructive potentialities that technological innovation may provide us in fixing a few of our most intractable issues.
I usually really feel disheartened by the course that our politics, courts and tradition are taking. However I don’t lose religion in our nation or its future. I remind myself how far we’ve come. I consider the brilliantly artistic individuals I’ve had the pleasure to work with in leisure and politics, and at Individuals for the American Approach, a progressive group I co-founded to defend our freedoms and construct a rustic wherein all individuals profit from the blessings of liberty. These encounters renew my perception that Individuals will discover methods to construct solidarity on behalf of our values, our nation and our fragile planet.
These closest to me know that I attempt to keep forward-focused. Two of my favourite phrases are “over” and “subsequent.” It’s an angle that has served me effectively by way of an extended lifetime of ups and downs, together with a deeply felt appreciation for the absurdity of the human situation.
Reaching this birthday with my well being and wits largely intact is a privilege. Approaching it with loving household, pals and artistic collaborators to share my days has stuffed me with a gratitude I can hardly categorical.
That is our century, pricey reader, yours and mine. Allow us to encourage each other with visions of a shared future. And allow us to convey all of the grit and openheartedness and artistic spirit we will muster to assemble collectively and construct that future.
Norman Lear produced “All within the Household,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons” and “Good Instances,” amongst different groundbreaking tv exhibits. He’s a member of the Tv Academy Corridor of Fame and a recipient of the Nationwide Medal of Arts and Kennedy Middle Honors. An activist and philanthropist, he co-founded and serves on the board of the advocacy group Individuals for the American Approach.
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