02PubPenAmerica is acting badly.

Never in my lifetime have I experienced such an atmosphere of intolerance, meanness and hate from my fellow Americans. What ever happened to “love thy neighbor”? Today, it seems like we hate just for the sake of hating. Instead of investing our time, money and resources in positive aspects of our American way of life, we have gravitated to degrading, debasing and trying to obliterate any person, organization or policy with which we disagree.

This hostility and anger are costing us greatly in what we cherish most: joy, contentment and the pleasures of experiencing America’s unique way of life. I place much of the blame for this on the news media and the new wave of journalists reaching for celebrity status as they desperately try to fill the story gaps created by a 24-hour news cycle. Equally at fault is the irresponsible and reckless use of social media. Both are making a mockery of the news, politics and the American dream.

Much of this vile and mean-spirited sentiment is coming directly from our elected officials in Washington, D.C. All of them.

This kind of behavior must stop. This wholesale hatred preoccupies us, distracts us and robs us of enjoying and appreciating the successes, positive events and accomplishments happening in our country every day.

Let’s look back at 2017, and perhaps we can get a peek at what we may have to look forward to in 2018 if we are not distracted by hate. Ignore whether you like or dislike President Trump, and set aside your political affiliations and thoughts about the recent government shutdown. Don’t think about fake news, crazy tweets and the wild, wild west of social media. Disregard the crazy antics of characters like Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer, Steve Bannon and Nancy Pelosi and anything, true or false, in Michael Wolf’s book “Fire and Fury.”

Let’s look at the past year. These 2017 events, regardless of your personal, social or political affiliations, will affect all of us and continue to impact our country and the world for years to come, so why not enjoy them – regardless of who was or was not responsible for their existence?

The U.S. economy perked up by about 3 percent. This rate hasn’t been achieved in years. The Dow Jones is up over 26,000 points with stock indexes at all-time highs. This is important. Why? Consider that 50 percent of Americans have stocks through their workplace 401(k) plans and pensions. U.S. unemployment is at historic lows, hovering at about 4.1 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that African-American unemployment fell to 6.8 percent – the lowest level in four decades.

We are finally winning the battle against ISIS. Finally!

Syria, for the time being, has stopped killing its people.

North Korea and South Korea are beginning to talk with one another and will march together in the upcoming Olympics.

Iran has been called out by other Muslim nations as an exporter of terrorism. Democracy is finally taking hold there, causing dissent toward its autocratic rule. Is this an indication that the world is becoming a safer place?

A tax reform bill was initiated, meaning lower taxes will be paid by most Americans. The tax reform policies in place will result in many large corporations, like Apple, bringing manufacturing and jobs back to the U.S. Additionally, U.S. companies, large and small, will expand, create more jobs and raise salaries.

In 2017, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses were doing better than ever, and confidence in small business has reached a record high.

These are only a few examples of the good things happening that affect our country.

Who cares who was responsible for these achievements? Everyone should be able to enjoy them. It’s OK if you do not like or support a person, party, policy or even the presidency, but as civilized human beings, we should not indulge those who continually generate chaos and disharmony by creating an atmosphere of hate.

I hope that 2018 will be the year everyone comes to their senses. I refuse to be a pawn used by any person, organization or political party that only has their preservation and self-interest at heart. It’s time we recognize and disavow hypocrisy and let our voices be heard. Let freedom ring!

We should hold our American values high, honor our Constitution and always respect the office of the president – regardless of who is representing the American people. No one wins unless we do these things. Need proof? President Trump’s approval ratings are historically lower than any other president after their first year in office. However, he still ranks higher than Congress and the news media. This is nothing to be happy about or proud of.

Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Correction: At Up & Coming Weekly we make every effort to provide fair, balanced and accurate coverage of local news and events occurring in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County. This has been a 22-year commitment to our readers. In an article published in last week’s edition, our senior reporter, Jeff Thompson, mistakenly reported that Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins was reorganizing three patrol districts into two. This was incorrect. Our apologies to the chief and the fine men and women of the Fayetteville Police Department. Chief Hawkins is in fact retaining the three patrol districts as they are.

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