Standoff in Congress sad reflection of our society

The quest for personal satisfaction has skewed our perspective and values.

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We have become a nation of poor sports. If we don’t win, we too often lash out at our opponents in petulant, sometimes destructive, ways.

It’s gotten so bad on athletic fields that the Kentucky High School Athletic Association this week banned postgame handshakes because of more than 20 fights over the past three years, according to CBS Sports.

That’s pathetic. Team sports, we have all been told, help build character and teach life lessons such as the value of working hard and working together. Learning how to win and lose graciously.

Yet, our self-obsessed society has distorted the positive lessons of athletic competition in applying them to political disagreements.

When our elected officials lash out when they don’t get their way the entire country suffers.

The current standoff in Congress is said to be over national health insurance and fiscal responsibility.

The Senate, controlled by Democrats, and the House, controlled by Republicans, differ greatly on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), spending priorities and how the nation can and should reduce its debt.

Republicans fought the ACA, but it garnered enough support to become law. When the act went into effect on Oct. 1, House Republicans moved to block its implementation by delaying funding.

Democrats said no, and the pair of parties have been bickering in public since with Republicans using the threat of not raising the debt limit by the Oct. 17 deadline.

A possible break in the logjam emerged today when Republicans offered to trade a temporary extension of the debt limit in exchange for negotiations with President Obama on longer-term “pressing problems.”

Compromise is needed or the acrimony could be devastating for the nation and the world if reason doesn’t prevail regarding the debt limit. If the U.S. can’t borrow, the world economy will collapse.

When the tiny country of Greece (with population similar to Ohio’s) had trouble paying its debts a few years ago the world markets took a dive. The negative economic ripple hit every nation, including the United States.

Think about the chain reaction that would result from U.S. defaulting on its loans. It should put a knot in your stomach.

Real, adult leadership is needed in Washington, D.C. — now!

Both sides have valid points. Federal spending is out of control and the health-care law has bugs. Work it out with statesmanship and civility. Lawmakers need to keep in mind they serve the people, most of whom strongly disapprove of the current nonsense.

It’s becoming increasingly insignificant who started this fight.

What matters is doing the right thing for the country, not for political power and ego gratification.

Congress must put the lessons learned in sports (and other competitive endeavors) about teamwork and competing with grace to good use and prevent a fiscal collapse.

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