Whenever our children or grandchildren misbehave, they are sent to their rooms. When kids are selfish, can't get along with others, talk back, fail to do their assigned chores, tell fibs, act-out or show disrespect, we give them a "time out."
During this period, they must remain silent. They are not allowed to play their usual games. They are told to read, do some homework, or simply reflect on their bad behavior.
Well, folks, America needs a "time out"!
Adult Americans, from all walks of life, are acting like juvenile brats, like spoiled teenagers. This includes politicians, media types and lots of average citizens. They are demonstrating self-absorption, intellectual dishonesty, incivility and disrespect for those who think differently. Their mean-spirited temper tantrums are causing disgust and division throughout America.
All must be sent to their respective rooms for behavior modification.
America's misbehavior has been so long ongoing that the average child "time out" of 10 minutes will not suffice.
America's "time out" should last perhaps one month, during which all current bickering and blaming will cease.
Nationwide attitude adjustments will commence, national healing will begin and seeds of unity will be planted.
This national "time out" will be for all elected officials, for out-of-office politicians who can't grasp that it's time to shut up, for self-serving politicos who say anything to get on TV and for extremists on both sides of the political aisle.
This will be a "time out" for all who constantly fuel the flames of partisan divisiveness — on issues from immigration to dealing with terrorism, and everything in between.
Every day, before each meal, Republicans will write 100 times: "Democrats are Americans like us, and we will work in harmony with them." Democrats will write something similar about Republicans, or go hungry. In the early days of the "time out," this will be difficult. But with time, the idea of cooperation will first become imaginable, then plausible, and ultimately achievable.
Conservatives will have to stand in the corner until they come to realize that liberals care about America as much as they do, but just see things very differently. Liberals will reflect similarly on conservatives. In some cases, known adversaries will be housed together.
Throughout the "time out," Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will room with Al Franken and Al Gore. Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore will spend their days with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Hillary Clinton and Jerry Falwell will be roommates. Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy will bunk with Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum. Pro-life and pro-choice activists will dine together across the United States. We might lodge Mary Matlin with James Carville, but then they're already living together.
During this national "time out," name calling and personal aspersions will be verboten. Cohabitation will continue until all participants agree to genuinely respect the other's opinions. Thus, some particular living arrangements may be extended well beyond one month.
Those who believe that the Enron debacle is typical, and that successful corporations are scourges upon our land, will be asked to consider that capitalism's profits ultimately finance 100 percent of America's tax collections, jobs, products, research, health care and charities. During the "time out" some may discover that free enterprise is what makes America the world's greatest nation, and that the vast majority of U.S. business executives are honorable individuals.
University professors will spend their "time outs" in silent retreat, contemplating how our form of government became the planet's greatest, and reflecting on the awesome responsibility they have to be fair, balanced and constructive as they help mold tomorrow's American adults.
Also sent to their rooms will be lots of media types, journalists, newspaper editors and cable TV's "talking heads." They will be required to prepare positive materials for subsequent communi cations — including documentaries to make their audiences aware and proud of the many good public servants in America.
Likewise, Hollywood and TV producers, directors and actors will spend their "time outs" developing scripts for movies and shows that will inspire and make Americans feel blessed to live in this great nation.
The general public, the vast "silent majority," will go to their rooms to ponder. They won't be allowed to send nasty e-mails condemning those with whom they disagree. They won't leave until they recognize and admit that cynicism and apathy are the most destructive crimes of all.
During this national "time out" all the perfect citizens will be free to do as they please. In every city, village and neighborhood, special rooms will be set up where any folks needing no self-improvement can eat, drink and be merry.
These very small rooms will, for the most part, remain completely empty throughout the "time out" period.
As president/international, Jack Tymann led business development for Westinghouse around the world, including most Muslim nations. He lived in Iran and the Middle East. In the 1990s, he served on and chaired the Clinton-Mubarak Presidents' Council. Today he serves on the board of AMIDEAST, a consulting firm promoting mutual understanding between Americans and Arabs via educational exchange.