Are we a past tense country?
Today, the country known as the United States of America turns 237 years old. A relative youngster in terms of global civilization. Despite its youth, no other country in the history of the world (one could make an argument for Rome I suppose) has had a greater impact on the world. And as a natural-born citizen of the U.S., I believe that the impact has been mostly positive.
The ideas of freedom, rule of law and standing for what is right have been the beacons that people across the world look to for encouragement and examples. The prodigious amount of American innovation and technological advancement has led the world in the past 100 years further than all advances made by the entirety of humanity in the past 5,000 years. The level of economic development has floated all boats and caused the living standards of almost the entire world to be raised to levels unprecedented in human history.
But, like all human endeavors and institutions, this country has experienced bumps and tumbles that resulted in falling short of our ideals. The scourge of slavery will forever be a stain on the soul of this great nation and nobody should discount the numerous blunders and errors made along the way. But even in the failures, you see the greatness. Because you see, we have ideals. The United States is different from almost any other country on earth in that it was not born from tribalism, happenstance or the inevitable momentum of history. It was born from an idea. That idea was freedom. Freedom of self determination. Freedom of self reliance and independence. Freedom of speech and of religion. Freedom to have Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
However, I had to hesitate when I wrote the phrase “we have ideals“. I was very tempted to write “we had (past tense) ideals”. I hesitated because I am seeing what is happening to this country and it is becoming more and more apparent that we are careening headlong down a blind path, abandoning the ideals that originally laid the foundation for this nation. We are moving from a sense of individualism and an entrepreneurial spirit to a collectivism that barely distinguishes us from the Socialist Democracies of Europe. We have moved from a place where freedom of religion now means a freedom from religion. A place where the Holy Bible is forbidden in schools but condoms and classes on masturbation and sex toys are commonplace. A place where the value of marriage is being eroded and undermined. We have movements dedicated to worshiping Mother Gaia and protecting the giant kangaroo rat while at the same time advocating the rights for women to desecrate their sacred birthright for childbearing by murdering millions of innocents.
I say all of this as pessimism seems to be clouding my sight. I am losing that optimism that used to be the hallmark of the American spirit. This scares me. It makes me fearful for the kind of country (and ultimately world) that we are leaving our children. Let’s turn ourselves back to the path where right was right and wrong was wrong. Let’s begin to believe that we can be what we used to be. Let’s do this soon. For all of our sakes.