When I decided to redesign my website, the images and thoughts I had of the beauty of our world back when evoked nostalgia though mingled with a bit of sadness.

Back then, politically, socially, and culturally, strides were made that gave us hope that those issues we treasured and fought for would continue to improve. Politically, we believed our voices were heard when it came to equal rights, gay rights, abortion, protesting a war, enabling education for all regardless of their socio-economic status, as well as following the example of  many other nations that provide health care for their citizens. We even believed and expected that those we elected would evolve with the times.

We hoped. We believed. And, somehow we were fooled.

Several decades ago, we were secure in the knowledge that we were a two-party political system where social issues were not held hostage for political gain, and economic debate was based on knowledge rather than intransigent ideology. Our enemies were countries rather than random groups which professed a garden variety of lunatic agendas. Yet, even those countries that polarized our world eventually understood that they could not survive if their economic programs continued to starve their people both intellectually and socially.

As time passed and given what I had witnessed as a journalist throughout Europe and the Middle East, my perspective about the future grew increasingly pessimistic. My new website design and accompanying title were already completed when some of the most heinous and gratuitous  violence took place throughout the world—when our values seemed to disintegrate and what had been gained was suddenly on the verge of being lost.

DAMAGED BEAUTY: OUR WORLD TODAY turned out to be what I feared—a world knocked senseless by violence, hypocrisy, stupidity, and disappointment.

Without going into detail about the latest terror attacks, shootings at schools, shopping malls, movie theatres, or the abductions of innocent children and young women at the hands of certifiable psychopaths, the shutting down of our government was the most egregious example of our decline.

Tragically, we, the people, are responsible for electing politicians who care less for the most vulnerable among us and more about winning their respective districts. And, oh have the districts been redefined. Gerrymandering would be the word, or manipulating and changing state, city and county boundaries to favor one particular party or class.

Since the election of George W. Bush, the Republican party has been hijacked by a group of sanctimonious right-wing, hypocritical ultra-religious leaders, hell bent on blocking gay marriage, outlawing abortion, sabotaging gun control as well as even opposing background checks to buy firearms, resisting efforts to provide health care for all Americans, regardless of their economic status, and ultimately transforming the Republican Party into a group of politicians who, given who they have become,  will never see the inside of the White House except as visitors.

To focus on their hypocrisy—these are the politicians who believe government should stay out of our lives and yet, block laws for legal abortion and dictate how consenting adults should conduct their private lives. These are the same people who espouse patriotism and yet, have destroyed the two-party system. These are the Tea Party members who are isolationists at the same time as they encourage our incursions into distant countries under the guise of promoting democracy. And, yes, these are the people who aim to cut the budget so that returning wounded soldiers do not get proper care or for that matter, proper protective equipment to fight those senseless wars.

Recently our government was shut down for two weeks, resulting in the  elderly, indigent, children, as well as our wounded veterans, their families, and the families of those who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq being at risk to lose their benefits—and all because a minority of those extreme right-wing Republicans decided to ignore our democratic system in an effort to obliterate Obamacare. Never mind that the bill for Obamacare, proposed by our President, was passed in the Senate and in Congress and validated by the Supreme Court, as is the procedure in our democracy.

Fortunately, there are still many sane and thoughtful Republicans.

Unfortunately, those Republicans who are sane were and continue to be terrified to stand up to the lunatic fringe of their party which has made our democracy a joke to the rest of the world, not to mention instilling fear in our allies and trade partners that the United States of America will eventually default on her debts.

The events of the past several weeks send a frightening message to the oppressed, while our enemies rejoice in our failure.

There is a bit of good news.

Senator John McCain is now perceived as a rational example of what a Republican once was and should be again. His flirtation with the mentally challenged Sarah Palin has faded into the past, while Palin is still fodder for satire and late-night comedians.

The other bit of good news is that Senator Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta in Canada, making him ineligible to be President of the United States.

And, lastly, the Obamacare debate has now focused on a faulty website rather than on the philosophical, emotional, and political viability of the health care plan itself.

Damaged Beauty: Our World Today.  To quote Winston Churchill when Lady Astor admonished him for being drunk. “Madame,” Churchill replied, “tomorrow I will be sober while you will still be ugly.”

We’ve come a long way since then.

Damaged beauty can be repaired.

Inner beauty takes far more time and effort.

And therein, lies our challenge.