A STATE OF THE UNION FROM BERKSHIRE COUNTY

The State of the Union: Eagle readers address it

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A few days ago, citing the gridlock in Washington that has delayed the State of the Union address, we appealed to our readers to write their own. Here are the Editorial Board’s consensus picks for Most Bipartisan, Most Persuasive and Most Fun to Read. Without further ado: “Madam Speaker, the Readers of The Berkshire Eagle!”

A STATE OF THE UNION FROM BERKSHIRE COUNTY: MOST PERSUASIVE

Let's tear town these walls

By Avi Dresner

My fellow Americans, the state of our union is disunion, disfunction, dyspeptic and, at times, dystopian. The only evidence of this I need present you here is the fact that I am delivering this State of the Union address, and not our president.

The wall the president seeks is already built, and has been for generations. It is a wall that divides reason from policy, politics from civility, action from morality, Liberal from Conservative, Republican from Democrat, American from American.

Each of us lives in an America of our choosing, consuming media both social and so-called mainstream, that mirrors back to us what we most wish to see and hear — retreating into the very tribalism and factionalism our Founders warned us about.

That is the bad news. The good news is we have overcome much worse in our history. We can make another choice — a better choice.

A generation ago, President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, and called upon Soviet Premier Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” We should heed that advice today.

With that in mind, I humbly offer a few ideas on how to do so here, however, I would also love to hear yours.

— I propose that all so-called news outlets, regardless of the medium they appear in, make a clear distinction between news and opinion. We have grown accustomed to warnings on packs of cigarettes and bottles of alcohol. Unfortunately, our media have become as hazardous to our national health and as poisonous to the body politic as these substances. If people wish to consume them, let them do so with full warning of the potential side effects and risks.

— I propose that all Americans, after high school, and without exception, perform at least one year of mandatory national service. Furthermore, I propose that they do so in a part of the country as different from their own as possible, serving a population as different from their own as possible alongside fellow Americans who are equally as different or, at least, appear to be. When we serve together for the common good I have no doubt that we will discover that what binds us as Americans is far more powerful than what divides us.

With that in mind, I ask our political leaders to do the same. I call upon every member of Congress, every member of state legislatures, every American of any age to volunteer with members of a different party, a different faith, a different race, a different gender, a different sexual orientation, etc., to work for our common good in soup kitchens, in homeless shelters — anywhere and everywhere there is an American in need.

If we do these two simple things — differentiate between news and opinion, and serve together for the greater good — we can tear down the walls that divide us from each other, and stand together in the More Perfect Union our Founders envisioned.

Avi Dresner writes from Pittsfield.

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