Tuesday, May 29, 2012

America Defined

America is...

More than just a country. More than its people. More than its beliefs. A tangible thing. The torch President John F. Kennedy spoke of that is passed between the generations. A bright light in the history of human civilization. A combination of our past, present, and future. Our triumphs and failures. Our dreams, those we have made reality and those yet to be realized. The whispers of wisdom from the past that guide us to this very day. The genius of a society guided by, and a government subservient to the rule of law. Evidence of what happens when the awesome power of human potential is unleashed, and when an individual's status is the product of the individual's own actions. The sacrifice of life, limb, and missed moments that have been borne by all that have worn the many uniforms of our nation's military. The worry, longing, and hope of those that are left behind. Our majestic flag waving defiantly against the ever present winds of tyranny and repression, while symbolizing our foundation of freedom, strength, honor, and the promise of self-determination. Our rising to the challenge, resurrection from the ashes, learning from our mistakes. Our evolution from a loosely bound group of colonies to global power. A transformation from a fragile idea that our forefathers dared to conceive, to a mighty nation that has stood the test of time. Our redefining the world, and our liberation of God given rights. Our example of the greatness of possibility, the results of determination, and the undeniable conviction of the American Spirit. The enshrined freedom to speak our minds, worship our God, and choose our leaders. Our choice in allies and how we treat them. Who we make our enemy and how we choose to deal with them. Our selection of when to make a stand, and how steadfast we remain. The sleeping giant. A gift as the world has never seen, and one many do not properly appreciate. Our home and our birthright. Our blessing and our responsibility. The source of never ending envy. A short but glorious history, full of monumental success and regrettable transgressions. Our aspirations, our decisions, and our motivations. Our burden to bear for being the “shining city on the hill.” Our reputation, the result of a people who repeatedly defied the odds. Our ability to come together in trying times to confront and defeat anyone or anything that dares to threaten us. Our ability to continually rise up, regardless of how hard or how many times we are stammered. Our variety, our melting pot, our culture – the product of being a nation that draws from all the corners of the world. A great mosaic of people coming to seek a chance, a chance to turn hope into aspirations fulfilled. Facing the disturbing fact that we are our own greatest threat, and our only hope for redemption. Understanding that we are the solutions as we created the problems. Our arrogance of entitlement, the result of losing faith in ourselves. Our ignorance, the consequence of selling our souls to the highest paying politician. Our failing integrity, the effect of looking to place blame instead of accepting responsibility. Our free market system under constant assault from the intrusive and self-righteous hand of government. Mankind's last, best hope at its most natural civilized state. The possibility of a fulfilled prophecy of downfall for failing to hold ourselves accountable as informed and prudent voters. Knowing that we owe a debt to those that came before us. Accepting the obligations that this nation demands of its citizens. Standing vigilant during our turn as the guardian of the flame in order to ensure the promise continues, and an ever-brightening torch is passed to the next generation.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Today is a day to honor the sacrifices made by the few to protect the many. It is a time to remember that the blessings we enjoy as Americans come at a very heavy price. This is the day to renew our reverence for the land of the free and the home of the brave. To appreciate the opportunities and freedoms this country offers. It is an occasion to understand that America is the fragile dream that will only survive if its citizens are determined to protect it, both on the battlefield and on the home front. Thank you to all that made America a reality and to those that ensure it does “...not go gentle into that good night.” - Dylan Thomas

Monday, May 21, 2012

Suppression by Equality

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal...” - Thomas Jefferson

This epic line of the Declaration of Independence is one of the most quoted, and I believe misinterpreted lines ever written. Our founding fathers were a highly intelligent and forward-looking group. They clearly understood that no two things in nature are equal nor do they have an equal chance. Everyone and everything is unique and the value each contributes to the world differs. This foundational belief of our nation defines America as a place where one's destiny is the culmination of their beliefs, natural talents, and decisions, combined with the effort the individual is willing to put forth. It is the promised land where one is able to realize their full potential, free of the bonds of governmental repression. At least it used to be. This is a nation where a person's station in life is not determined by how they come into this world, but by how they chose to live their life. This does not; however, mean that the natural inequalities that exist between all people do not exist here. While our Constitution removes barriers imposed by mankind, even this mighty document pales in comparison to the irresistible force of nature.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” - Abraham Lincoln

I believe that everyone is endowed with some special gift, an ability or aptitude at which they naturally excel, but not all talents are equally valued by our society. Some attain great fortune and recognition by cultivating their gift, others do not. Some are the recipients of great support and receive multiple opportunities to showcase their skill set, others do not. Just because some are lucky enough to be blessed with advantages, does not mean they will prosper, nor is it something for which they should be disparaged. Advantage does not guarantee success, nor does it condemn those not privy to it to a life of misery and obscurity. It simply means that the ascent to prominence requires more effort from some than from others. Life is not always fair and when government is enlisted to try and make it so, there are many unforeseen consequences and the ultimate price is the sacrifice of our freedom and liberty. Success is not given, it is not owed, it must still be earned. In order to be free to succeed, we must also be free to fail. For true success is exploring the extent of our potential, and this is not possible without the prospect of failure.

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” - Thomas Paine

There is a growing sentiment in our society that it is the duty of government to nullify life's inherent inequalities. To those that view this as good intentioned, remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is not possible to elevate everyone to excellence, as the behavior and attitude necessary to attain excellence are the product of personal commitment. Since government has no measure available to them to generate this. their chosen strategy is to restrain, vilify, and diminish the value and rewards of achievement. This path leads away from the liberty of democracy and down the dark tunnel to the equality of mediocrity and misery desired by socialism. We will not all succeed, that is a fact, but we must not sacrifice our natural right to realize our fullest potential so that others may not feel the sting of failure. As Marianne Williamson so eloquently wrote, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.” Success is something to be celebrated and revered because failure is always a very real possibility. Beating the odds and rising triumphant is the stuff of legends. The reality of failure by some does not justify denying the many their chance to excel. We are the land of opportunity and we must not sacrifice this wondrous gift because of those who refuse to take a chance or simply fail to measure up. Our nation is the envy of the world and the undying dream of so many because this is the place where a person's actions determine their fate, it is not dictated to them by an obstructionist and repressive government. We lived under this once, and we defied all the odds to cast it off. To revert back in the name of some poorly conceived notion of equality is foolishness of the highest order and an unforgivable insult to those that bestowed this blessing upon us.

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”- James Madison

Monday, May 14, 2012

Diminished by Envy

Success demands work of its recipients, while envy asks nothing for your patronage. It is easy to see why envy is so much more prevalent. Being jealous of the accomplished is much easier than it is to put in the time and effort necessary to become accomplished. Over the past year we have seen an increase in the cries of inequality and a demand for the wealthy to do their fair share. Regardless of how this is spun by politicians, support for these claims and grievances are fueled by one thing - envy. There is a growing segment of American society that believes their shot at success has somehow been stolen from them by those who have already attained it. Many have foolishly bought into the asinine notion that success is finite and once the pie is divvied up, those who were not at the table have no hope. The masses are condemned to a life of mediocrity and devoid of opportunity without their sole chance at salvation - the benevolent, equalizing hand of government intervention.

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” - George Washington

During times of crisis it is mankind's tendency to do exactly the opposite of what is truly in its best interest. Instead of looking for logical and pragmatic solutions, we panic. This leads to fear which brings out the worst in us by making us ever more susceptible to manipulation. In a desperate search to satisfy our desire for someone to make it all better, we will follow anyone that steps up to podium. Though the same ineffectual strategies are used time and again, we continually fall for them. We are given rhetoric about our impending doom, handed a villain to blame, and then given the silver bullet of a government solution - regulation and expansion. In the end, government is the snake oil that will cure all the evils of the world.

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” - Thomas Jefferson

The financial meltdown of 2008, a situation that government intervention greatly contributed to, led to a series of detrimental decisions. It justified the election of a totally unqualified president and one party rule, condoned massive financial bailouts of corporations and banks supposedly too big to fail, and fostered the introduction of cumbersome and poorly conceived government financial regulation. The need to punish someone for our bad behavior, resulted in the election of an administration that routinely dismisses our foundation of law as simply an obstacle to be ignored or circumvented in order to properly address the crisis at hand. Combine this with the one party rule that existed for two years, the outcome of our desire to publicly flog the Republican Party, and we sanctioned a massive increase in our national debt and socialization of our medical system. How does the institutional pinnacle of fraud, waste, and abuse, have the audacity to say they are qualified to create a solution? They do it because we expect it, because we allow it. Our actions betray our changing values. We no longer trust ourselves to dictate the direction our lives and our nation take. To do so means to be responsible when failure occurs. We no longer recognize the gift of determining our own destinies, we are content to trade our liberties for a false sense of security and government distributed charity. We no longer believe the only constraints we face are the limits of our aspirations and our fortitude to achieve them. Now the success achieved by others has become an insurmountable challenge to the dreams of the masses. Our choices are no longer the determining factor in the direction our lives take, we are but pawns of the wealthy and powerful with government our Robin Hood.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” - Abraham Lincoln

The effects of the 2008 financial bubble burst linger, but we now face an even greater danger – ourselves. A powerful sense of entitlement has replaced the once prevalent gratitude for opportunity, while excuses have supplanted perseverance. A growing number willingly accept government dictated subsistence over their God given right to achieve their own greatness. The reason is simple, we have become more content with taking a government handout and tolerating the condescending limitations that are its inherent price, than we are to embark on the trying journey that success demands. While the trek is easier for some than it is for others, true success is only attainable through a combination of skill, talent, and fortitude. Those that have risen to legendary heights had to endure many pitfalls along the way, but had the perseverance to continue the fight. This is something to be celebrated, not held up as a great scourge upon our society. The longer the road and the effort required to conquer it, the deeper the appreciation once the final destination is reached. The cause of our fall is that too many now simply do not believe success is worth the effort, but are all too willing to scream to the masses about how they still deserve it. Success is their right, and it is being denied them due to achievements of others. As we fade from a nation founded on the principle of self-determination and naively morph into one that increasingly embraces government determination, the greatness of the United States diminishes and our foundation crumbles. Soon we will simply be one of many, instead of the one the many aspire to be.

“One of the consequences of such notions as "entitlements" is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.” - Thomas Sowell

Again, every great civilization falls. We attained our national prowess by providing our citizens the opportunity to attain their personal greatness. Here everyone had a chance at success, not a guarantee of it. Here we were measured by our ability to achieve, not by the circumstances of our birth. Unfortunately, opportunity is no longer enough, we demand the spoils of victory without having to bear the struggle to earn it. The sole justification is that we are entitled to it, we are owed it. An arrogant selfishness created by a society that has forgotten the price and struggle endured by those that came before us to provide us with and preserve the amazing gift that America is. We are not yet at the point of no return, but it is rapidly approaching. “The price of greatness is responsibility.” - Winston Churchill