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posted: 11/7/2013 5:00 AM

Amid chaos, listen to the songs of hope

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The leaves are turning yellow and orange and red, and others have already fallen. You can smell the seasons in the air. Thanksgiving's on my mind and a winter of more discontent. It's been a hard year -- doesn't it seem like every year's a hard year? -- and I feel like sharing a few thoughts.

Still, even in the age of Facebook and Twitter, this'll take more than 140 characters.

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You see, right now, I'm feeling a little low and a bit let down. There's been a lot of negativity thrown into the fan of public life of late. For those of us my side of 50, well, we've been through the songs -- "to every thing, there is a season" -- and lived long enough to know that political dysfunction may not be quite like the weather, since we can do something about it. Still, sometimes, "rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

Today we're dysfunctional over Obamacare. The website has problems. We've got a slow start to a new beginning in health care. But, as Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said, "Any time something is new, there is going to be some glitches." And it's good to know that House Speaker John Boehner feels that even though "the implementation side continues to need to be improved ... the good news is that the competition that's been created has lowered premiums significantly below where Congress thought they'd be when we put the bill together."

Oh, wait. They were talking about George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit. That's different. Never mind.

Look, I know we're all wired and iTuned in, but do those in the media have so little faith in American resiliency that they really believe a slow connection or a bug in the program will forever crash our hopes for the security of our family's health?

The generation gap has gotten weird, I guess. The 20-somethings are the first generation raised on the widespread use of the Internet. And yet, from what I see in the classroom (teaching part-time at Georgetown University), the young people understand that we get things done in a lot of different ways. We have different tools to communicate, but the point is to communicate.

Business websites crash, and businesses get them fixed and thrive afterward. Printers jam, so students write out papers longhand. People enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid by telephone, by (snail) mail, in person. Those three options still exist.

The point is, there are other ways to enroll in Obamacare. Maybe the media should be informing us of solutions. Then they wouldn't be part of the problem.

The website worries aren't the only distractions and "discouraging word." There's the NSA snooping. "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Who watches the watchmen? It seems we must question even the watchman who watched the watchmen: Edward Snowden gave up everything to expose government intrusion into privacy, and went to the country whose government invented an "informer in every home."

More negativity, more distraction. With nothing else to do, conspiracy theorists and the partisan media groupies go back to Benghazi. Paging Jimmy Page -- "who's to blame?" It doesn't matter. It's all a shell game without solution.

And the good news goes unnoticed. When Syria used chemical weapons against its own people, President Obama crafted a Teddy Roosevelt-like approach that resulted in a diplomatic solution, and no American military involvement. Everyone played Monday morning quarterback -- without a DVR.

Where's the instant replay on political punditry? This week, Syria met a deadline to outline its plan to destroy all its chemical weapon production plants. Where are the pronouncements and triumphal told-you-so's from the media?

And yet I return to the songs for strength and hope. Songs unite us. Songs energize. When The Beatles sang, "Hey, Jude, don't make it bad -- take a sad song and make it better," they weren't just talking about songs. They were talking about life. About politics.

Which is why, when I review the negativity and the misinformation from the adults, I turn to the next generation -- those I teach, those that I will teach -- and sing, "Don't let me down." Because I know they won't.

Of course there are problems with Obamacare's rollout. All beginnings are difficult. But there are governors -- governors like Republican John Kasich of Ohio and Democrat Steve Beshear of Kentucky -- who recognize that health care can't wait.

Yes, up to 5 percent of the public who buy individual health insurance will lose their insurance carrier. Those policies may be cheap, but those policies cheat. They don't cover what Obamacare law says they must cover for good, basic insurance. In the long run, people will save money by having to pick up fewer medical bills.

One last song, from the band Journey. Because this song reflects where I am now, after our conversation today: "Don't stop believin'/Hold on to the feelin'!"

2013, United Feature Syndicate Inc.

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