Who will lead us out of the darkness?

August 01, 2002|By Abe Novick

WHERE DO we turn when everywhere we look it looks like the road to perdition?

Corporations are filled with crooks who fix the system and stick it to the little guys. Politicians have a hand in the cookie jar and get rich off their own deals. Even pristine Martha Stewart now has her dirty linen flapping in the breeze.

And let's not forget the church. If ever we needed a moral compass to show us the way north, the church has let us down and led us astray big time.

And then there are the children. They are the little ones who disappear into thin air, some never to be found again. "All my pretty ones?" was Macduff's astonished reply after hearing the news of his slaughtered kin in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

But this tale may be darker than Shakespeare ever dreamed.

While crimes are committed by tyrants at the highest reaches of corporate America in towers overlooking the countryside, highwaymen, fools and scum are kidnapping little girls.

While Philadelphia celebrates the miracle of little Erica Pratt's escape after the 7-year-old girl was taken from the street outside her home in southwest Philadelphia and held for ransom, so many others aren't as lucky.

On the road to perdition, there are barbarians at the gate. While holding onto our thinning wallets, don't let go of the kids. Not for an instant.

Where do we turn for guidance, support and a belief system in a society where priests are being busted for preying on little boys? Where do we turn?

The wreckage of lives spent and wealth lost because of all of this mendacity is lying at the side of that hell-bent road. And it's unfathomable. It spirals down deeper with every new revelation of malfeasance. It's more like Dante than Shakespeare.

All the while, there's supposed to be a war going on. I thought the bad guys were over there. Instead there's a subplot. It's woven from scene-stealers who are vicious clowns and greedy players who control the backstage pulleys and can rewrite a scene change by rigging the system.

Prince George, who's now King George, needs to speak the speech he spoke to Wall Street and this time include Main Street. He needs to take center stage, win back his countrymen and get them back on track.

President Bush needs to give us something to believe in and confidently assure us that we're on the right road, not that other one.

He has to take this moment to level with his nation and tell us we're in good hands. And, like Shakespeare's Prince Hal, he has to look himself in the mirror and wonder, "By how much better than my word I am, By so much shall I falsify men's hopes ... I'll so offend, to make offense a skill; Redeeming time when men think least I will."

It's bigger than Wall Street and even bigger than Main Street. The road we are on is far more serious because the road we are on is like a zigzagging stock chart leading nowhere. It's not filled with promise. It's not filled with hope.

The Bush administration needs a vision that will carry the dreams and great ideas of Philadelphia's Founding Fathers while at the same time assuage every parent's worst nightmare. It's a voice and vision that need to be spoken to the world.

Right now we need the words of a poet. The voice of a leader. The reassurance of a father.

Abe Novick is a senior advertising executive in Baltimore.

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