The simplicity and joy of this year’s holiday season seems tainted.

Mostly due to the personal challenges and losses we’ve endured as a community, amongst friends, and even in our own family over the past 12 months. But much of the taint comes from the loss of our country’s kindness and respect for each other.

We’re going through a transitional period in the United States where the people from both ends of the political spectrum want many of the same things, but because our choices of leadership are so limited, those leaders operate in such a divisive manner, and our politicians make decisions based almost solely on what their Masters tell them to do, we find ourselves in this quandary. With a win-at-any-cost attitude, they are making decisions benefiting a few who don’t need it while leaving the burden on the rest of us who can’t afford it (and this isn’t unique to the current administration by any means).

With a deeply declining respect for personal responsibility, citizens are allowing it to happen through lack of civic action, or worse, they’re engaging with their own vitriolic aggression and hate-filled expression of fact-less opinions… “facts” fed to them by someone aiming to control and pit them against their fellow citizen. Meanwhile, the politicians and billionaires laugh themselves all the way to the bank…

It’s compounded by a consolidated media who ultimately control everything we see, hear, and believe… biased in almost every case at some level by the agenda of the owners or their cronies. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer owners now that global conglomerates have taken over the regional and independent media sources.

As a result, we find ourselves ever-more saturated with violently opposite yet oddly homogenous opinions, rather than facts and discourse backed by critical thinking.

In other words, it’s black or white; my way or the highway. Meanwhile the shades of grey most people live in along with the complexities and nuances of citizenship are marginalized and blurred to the point of mind-numbing confusion.

Some people really believe what they’re told on TV and the radio, and in many cases are willing to defend their potentially ill-gotten (or self-serving) positions at the expense of relationships with friends, family, and co-workers… and in some cases, the International Community.

But there are a few people on both sides who try to live in the middle ground, and respect their opponent, while making an educated effort to defend and prostheletize their own thoughts and ideas using facts and meaningful discussion.

It’s up to each of us to deny the fundamental dumbing down of America, the resulting vitriolic behavior of our citizens, and to steadfastly reject those among us who would act with anger, hatred, or disrespect toward others for no other reason than race or opposing points of view.

Collectively we have to embrace the common ground where the vast majority of us have no choice but to live. A common ground where all participants work, compromise, and craft a socially beneficial strategy with fiscally realistic tactics to achieve the common goals most of us strive for:

Living a free life, exercising and enjoying our liberties including free speech, and the pursuit of happiness regardless of race, creed, economic tier, or otherwise.

How we get there may never be an easy discussion, but the key to all of this is compromise.

Compromise is not “weakness” or “failure”. Compromise is the bedrock upon which a true democracy is built.

In the absence of compromise, we’re left with a failed democracy and taxation without representation… the seeds of revolution.

Ultimately, who would gain from the systematic demise of our democracy?

Answer that, and you’ll know who’s pulling the strings.