Monday, September 20, 2010

Mr. Quarter on our National Identity

Honestly, the state of the country today is enough to make one want to climb aboard the mothership and fly away to a new place and start over. Just jettison the whole deal and move on to a clean slate. I have written previously of this lingering feeling that I have, that it may be time to find a defensible place and hunker down with my family until the worst of it all passes. Reading all the commentary is confusing, for every pessimistic article and opinion one finds an equally optimistic view point. I think what is most distressing is that it seems that the nation has lost its way.

As a nation and as individual citizens it seems our internal compasses are broken. We no longer can seem to agree on what is right or what is wrong. Black is white, strength is weakness, honesty and virtue are extremism, mendacity is virtue, self-interest is for the common good, there are no moral absolutes because everything is a shade of grey along some continuum.

A federal government that hovers over all, sincerely believing the sovereign states and their individual citizens lack the judgment to decide for themselves how they should spend their wealth and what they need to be happy. This is compounded by the stratification of society into ill defined overlapping classes and subclasses: the political elite; the media elite, the elite, the rich (if your are fortunate enough to earn greater than $250K/year), the middle class, the poor, black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, Jew, Christian, atheist, gay lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, and on and on and on. Everybody wants theirs, each is a political constituency that can swing an election in one direction or another, and few consider the common good as the best outcome. We are weak as a nation.

We the people eke out our living day after day while members of congress make a career of elective office, maneuvering themselves to wealth and power in the guise of “public service”. Who among the writers of the constitution would have dreamed that individuals might server 10 or 20 terms in the House of Representatives or six terms in the Senate? What would those men that put their own lives and wealth at risk say to the proposition that the members of congress and the administration are now the “political elite?” Self-interest and the accumulation of power is in the ascendancy and promoting the common good is in decline.

Is it nostalgic to long for a time when people knew the difference between right and wrong? When the nation and individuals were willing to do the hard things, the tough response, because that was what was right? A time when there existed the freedom to live your life as you saw fit and the awesome and complete responsibility to you for the outcome of your actions was morally correct. When the measures necessary to ensure the common good often meant that the people had to reach in and cut out the cancer that threatened the body of the nation or the community? Until we return to this we as a nation will continue to weaken and decline, just as Rome did.

I look around and see a nation of sedentary, overweight, and self-interested sheep. Few care that as a nation we cannot even produce sufficient young people to staff our armed forces because of lack of education and because they are too overweight to withstand the basic training regimen. Imagine that, our youth are too overweight to run 3 miles at day! What would we do as a nation if we were attacked? Are we so complacent and naive as to believe that no other country on earth could possibly covet our wealth enough to simply take if from us? Even the Afghan army has sufficient recruits; their biggest problem is illiteracy.

The status of our nation? It is fairly clear: we are divided from each other, uninterested, and disconnected from community and country. We are physically unfit to carry on the awesome responsibility that was handed to us by the generations that placed this country into our keeping. We are ruled by a government whose members do not consider the people to be their peers as they are “elite”, and to not believe that we are capable of managing our own lives. We are unwilling to do the hard work and unwilling to be responsible for our own actions. We are weak as a nation and growing steadily weaker.

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