Greeson: Will Great American Eclipse lead to next great American moment?

Greeson: Will Great American Eclipse lead to next great American moment?

August 22nd, 2017 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

The solar eclipse is in progress on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, seen in Spring City, Tenn. Thousands traveled to the small town, which is in the immediate path of the eclipse, to view the solar event from the heart of the totality.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Total solar eclipse hits Tennessee

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POLL: Did you watch the eclipse?

It seems fitting that the biggest thing in our country is an oddly colored obstructionist blocking the light of our daily view.

(Insert Donald Trump joke here.)

In truth, beyond the family moments, the social connections, the galatical oddity, and every other two-word description you can come up with, Monday's Great American Eclipse also could be called the Great American Reminder.

We are broken, right. As a country, as a society of people living in the same space, and in a lot of ways, as human beings trying to find ways to survive as a community, both macro and micro.

There's no need to rehash the headlines. Wagging a finger or raising your voice at the problem, as it has through history, though, is Quixotic. Chase those windmills if you must, but the solutions do not come from volume.

Answers are found in nuance and understanding. And yes, it's fair to note that the most nuanced Trump has been as a president was discussing White supremacists. That's not good.

I wish I had the answer, big picture. As many of you — hi, Rick and Pat and online reader ndgm0, — are quick to remind me, I'm not that smart.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

But what I can see is that we are Americans.

We have faced every problem, fought and talked through all of them.

The unrest and angst among us is no different. Want proof?

Try this: Everyone talks about this eclipse being historic, well, let's look at that history.

The last eclipse of this kind that went from West Coast to East Coast was in June 1918, friends.

In the early parts of 1918, we were still fighting wars with American Indians.

In 1918, we were involved in wars across the globe as well as struggles within our society. The former was World War I; the latter was the debate on prohibition.

In 1979, the last time a total eclipse was viewable here, there was the unknown of a president who had lost the country's confidence. There were interminable lines at gas stations — and rising prices — and unrest about our dealings with the Middle East.

Sound familiar?

What delivered us from the blocked sun and the blocked vision and fears of a future in those years were great acts of American pride.

In November, roughly four months after the 1918 eclipse, World War I ended. The 1979 eclipse was in February, and roughly a year later, 20 or so young American hockey players from a slew of northern states pulled off the greatest upset in team sports and delivered the greatest Olympic moment since Jesse Owens sprinted past Adolph Hitler.

That's why I believe better days are ahead.

We are at a place of an unknown future that at times is scary but we are so far more accepting and gracious today compared to all groups than any of the previous years mentioned.

Again, we have big steps to take and heavy lifting to do, but if you think this is even comparable to the societal issues and wars that were raging in the streets around the South, the Midwest and the entire country, then ask your dad. Or your grandmother.

The answers will shock you both in detail and scope. The difference is now we have full coverage on all channels all the time.

And that's a good thing. Exposing hate is the first step in eradicating hate.

But as I put my glasses on Monday and watched as the shadows covered out country, I couldn't help but think of better times.

And brighter days.

The Great American Eclipse? You bet.

Now, let's all find the next great American experience.

For all of us.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

Total Solar Eclipse coverage

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