Friday, July 20, 2012

Our National Cornerstone

Responsibility – fulfilling the commitment to consistently perform the duties necessary to maintain a righteous and virtuous state of being.  It is such a simple and yet powerful concept; the essential quality enabling America’s rise to prominence.  Responsibility is at the core of everything good about our country, while the lack of it is the cause of all that is wrong with it.  The Founding Fathers designed our governmental system to be wholly dependent on it, demanding that the people exercise it as the custodians of our democratic republic.  Freedom and liberty cannot exist in the absence of responsibility for the power of government cannot be restrained when the citizens do not hold themselves accountable to do so.  Responsibility is hard, never ending work requiring constant vigilance.  It is the foundation of American exceptionalism, the unique characteristic differentiating us from the rest of the world.  It is the source of our legend.

As I have stated before, every great civilization falls.  The reason being the people lose sight of their essential defining quality, that which elevates them from the realm of ordinary to the venerated ranks of exceptional.  The descent is foretold through the occurrence of several events.   Appreciation for being extraordinary is replaced by complacency.  Success is vilified, failure is explained away, and mediocrity is accepted as the new normal.  Unfortunately, this sounds familiar.  We are in the midst of this transformation now.  All that was once celebrated and cherished is being systematically condemned or societally dismissed.  We tread forward at our own peril.

American foundational values such as family, achievement, personal accountability, common sense, temperance, hard work, drive, and earning one’s way have seemingly gone by the wayside.  Left in the wake is a country that is but a mere shadow of its former self.  Our children have gone astray, no longer able to rely upon the guidance and support of their families.  Entitlement and an engrained sense of being owed have supplanted the ethos of earned success and self-reliance.  We elected a national government of one party rule centered on a thinly veiled message of hope and change based in victimization, blame, and the cure all of the expansion of governmental power.   We have become our own worst enemy, as we sought some villain to punish for our own bad deeds, our own poor decisions.  A responsible people, ones that believed in the sanctity of self-determination and personal liberty would have fervently rejected any candidate or political party that dared to campaign on the notion that increased government intervention was key to our salvation.

Today we are inundated with the results of our irresponsible: runaway debt, widespread obesity, ineffectual citizen elected government, increasing levels of envy manifesting itself in class warfare, scarcity of logic and common sense, and an increasingly entrenched belief in being owed success.  We are a society so consumed with possessions we no longer consider our ability to afford them.  While we voice a desire for monetary discipline, we do not support this claim when an elected official exhibits the rare audacity to propose spending cuts.  Many now support efforts to increase taxes, but only on other people.  These same people are rallying to the desperate call of jealousy, embracing the notion that those that have attained monetary success have done so at our expense.  We devalue competition and marginalize feats of accomplishment in a counterproductive effort to advance our society.  Even our eating habits show evidence of our failings; sacrificing our long term health for the immediate satisfaction of a cheeseburger while allowing the redefinition of children’s play from riding bikes or throwing a ball to spending hours in front of a TV with a game controller in hand while munching away on whatever waistline expanding snack is available.

We are facing a very serious situation, and when we decide to finally get serious about addressing our nation’s many issues and putting ourselves back on a path to prosperity and global prominence, responsibility will be our compass.  We have lost our way by forgetting that greatness requires commitment to be attained and maintained.  While dependence is easier, it is never revered, never the stuff of dreams.  It is the result of settling, accepting defeat and subjugation.  There is no need for another stimulus, higher taxes, or some highly detailed government plan.  We need to accept responsibility for our lives and our current national situation.  The results would be smaller, constrained, and less intrusive government; an economic environment fostering growth; a more fit and healthy population; happier and more confident children; a return to the celebration of accomplishment; and a rebuilding of our national character.  No one is more formidable at confronting a difficult challenge than Americans.  Overcoming the odds is what we do, what we built our reputation on.  We do not need  nor should we want government to save us.  We broke it, so we need to ante up and fix it.  The individual, not government, must be the most influential factor in determining the direction of our nation.  When we return to a culture embracing responsibility, we will unleash the force that drove us to supremacy, shaking off the rust and reclaiming our rightful place at the pinnacle of human civilization.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Politcal Speech We Need To Hear

My fellow Americans, I cannot think of a better time than the day we celebrate the birth of our magnificent country to address the momentous task before us.  We are in a time of great consequence as we stand at the crossroads of our existence as a nation.  Before us appears a forked road, a juncture of our own creation and the product of an increasingly uninformed, unaccountable, and uninspired electorate.  As we contemplate the obvious question of, “How did we get here?” we discover the answer is very simple to explain, but consists of the type of honest criticism we Americans ardently shy away from - we are reaping the whirlwinds of our unfettered recklessness as stewards of the great gift that is America.  Our country is the genesis of freedom, liberty, and democracy; this in turn demands it must also be the pinnacle of responsible citizenship.  And therein lies the great trap of freedom; in return for the opportunity to choose, one must accept the burden of being accountable for their actions.  It is not a venture for the lazy or faint of heart, and while we are a nation of laws, the only true protection from the return of a tyrannical government is a vigilant and prudent citizenry.  We must now choose the type of people and in turn the type of nation we will be.  The paths before us are divergent; one based in the fortitude of the individual, the other in the generosity of the federal government.  Each has its own repercussions, so choose wisely we must.  With the knowledge that once a course is chosen, there is little chance of turning back, making the proper selection becomes all the more crucial.  This is a decision of historic proportions, for we must understand that what is at stake is the legacy of mankind’s most audacious experiment, the greatest leap of faith in ourselves.  Do we still believe that the individual is best suited to determine their own destiny, or will we succumb to the notion that government is the ultimate authority and we must humbly accept whatever they deem our pittance to be in their equitable distribution? 

Only a people that stand resolute in defense of their God given rights, never yielding to the distractions of fear or comfort, possess the fortitude necessary to remain forever free.  Do we believe that the freedom to explore the limits of our potential is worth the risk of failure?  Do we accept the challenge and awesome responsibility that the greatest factor in the outcome of our lives is us?  Do we understand that the price we owe for a system, where the government derives its power from the consent of people, is requiring those same citizens to remain ever vigilant?  Will we endure as the unrelenting force standing firm against the always present threats of man’s unquenchable thirst for power combined with government’s unwavering resistance to the constraints placed upon it by our cherished principles of individual freedom, liberty, and the rule of law?  To fall prey to the ruse of a benevolent government is an affirmation of the current administration’s egotistical and arrogant belief that the individual American is incapable of handling the burden of self-determination.  It is a reinforcement of their ideal that the masses were not meant to be represented, they were meant to be ruled.  Do we truly comprehend our duty and are we a people up to the challenge or have we become so complacent, so oblivious that we do not appreciate the price of sacrificing our liberty for a state of ignorant bliss?  We must accept the fact that life is simply not always fair, and government is not the tool to attempt to make it so.  Government’s answer for all problems is to grow, to feast on the liberties of the people; the sacrifice it demands for promises of equality and the seemingly irresistible Pandora’s Box known as entitlements.   If we will not listen to modern day harbingers of this message, perhaps we will heed the warning of Thomas Jefferson - "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Two hundred and thirty-six years ago a small group of men defined America.  In a revolutionary proclamation steeled through the forging of our baptism by fire, a new understanding of mankind’s most natural civilized state was realized.  America was the dismissal of the notion that destiny was the byproduct of one’s station at birth, replaced by a fervent belief in the virtue of self-determination.  Here, you would be defined by your actions, not by a government imposed social hierarchy.  While many still flock here in hopes of enjoying the opportunity to craft their chosen fate; our torch’s once raging flame is dwindling to but a faint flicker as scores of Americans have traded this priceless blessing of greatness possible for the shackles of government intervention.  Many have voiced their support for this dark path of descent, the choice to place one’s fate in an ever increasing and intrusive government, an elected helping hand to ensure we all attain some measure of economic equality.  Let us hope they wake from their irrational slumber in time to realize it is nothing more than fool’s gold, a mere perception of prosperity.  The toll required to travel this road of government dependence is hefty indeed as it demands the exchange of one’s dream of the impossible, for a predetermined subsistence of mediocrity.  To those that believe this is the righteous path, remember where the road paved with good intentions leads, for this is the path that brings us full circle, back to the very situation of rampant and unrestrained government that we rose up in revolution to cast off not so long ago.

The alternative is the road I believe was envisioned by our Founding Fathers.  It too requires much of those that traverse its path as it is a reaffirmation of the commitment to the duties and responsibilities demanded of the American citizen in our uniquely and brilliantly crafted democratic republic.  This is the acceptance of the belief that protecting the potential of the individual supersedes the inclination to limit potential in the name of equal mediocrity for the masses.  It is an oath to do what is right, even when it is not easy.  It is the chance at prominence, for those with the fearless daring to be great.  It is a mature realization of knowing the awesome gift a life guided by self-determination is.  It is an understanding that in order to allow one the chance to achieve unimaginable greatness, we must allow them to tempt fate and risk catastrophic failure with no net to catch them should they fall.  It is the place where opportunity is worth the steep price of vigilance and accountability. It is an advanced understanding that in order to have a civilized state, a government of laws is necessary; that freedom void of the rule of law is anarchy; government unrestrained by the rule of law is tyranny; and that ultimately democracy exercised by an undisciplined and self-consumed electorate is democracy lost. 

On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave one of the most powerful and memorable inaugural addresses ever.  The speech was filled with immortal lines emphasizing that the most influential force in this nation’s success or failure is not the government, but the people that elect and restrain it.  He eloquently stated, “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”  The words ring as true today as they did over 51 years ago.  So, in the coming election I pray you choose wisely.  Look deeply and fully weigh your options.  Put aside petty and transient reasons of party, envy, and personality, knowing that your decisions must transcend this trivialness as it determines the fate of mankind’s grandest achievement.   America is strong, as evidenced by its survival during its short but turbulent history; however, it is a nation dependent on the actions and protection of it citizens.  While our Constitution is a masterpiece of foresight and innovation with a system of checks and balances and citizen elected leaders, its greatest weakness is its reliance upon the fickle American people for its enforcement and preservation.  If forsaken by its guardians, it will quickly fall prey to the insatiable drive for increasing power that is shared by all forms of government. 
While recent happenings would beg to differ, I continue to believe we are the same people that seized our freedom, persevered through civil war, toppled the Third Reich, planted our flag on the moon, vanquished the Soviet Union, and have been the standard to which all others have been measured since our inception as a nation.  As in times past I see us still capable of rising up together to beat back the wolves at the door, though in this fight the wolves are us.  I see the sleeping giant awakening once more from a long slumber to revive the torch that is American exceptionalism.  We will remember our extraordinary legacy and fulfill the dream of our nation’s framers as a country with the people not only embracing their liberty but also always fiercely defending it with the understanding that government is but a necessary evil, not the all-encompassing answer.   If and when this happens we will emerge from the doldrums of self-induced apathy as the mighty phoenix is reborn from the ashes.  The world will once more return to better times, America shining brightly as the beacon of hope in the storm of oppression and tyranny.  Our allies will rejoice and our enemies cower as we rise again, the champion reclaiming its rightful place as leader and standard bearer of the free world.