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.

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