“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Sir Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill would be shaking his head at America today.
Forget net neutrality, homegrown terrorists, racial discord, ideological politics, and socioeconomic iniquity for one moment and let’s look at the most basic, fundamental thing that is going wrong in our nation. We have lost our sense of respect for the individual and appreciation of community. We have become a nation of labels, colors (ideologically speaking), and slogans. Rather than focusing on what we can do to create a better nation, we have allowed ourselves to devolve into a collection of non-confederated sides. “Balkanized” is quite inaccurate; rather, we have become a circular firing squad, shooting each other instead of focusing our collective national and cultural might at common goals.
Ours is a nation which is in the center of its own hell. We are falling on our own collective faces, refusing to see the foolhardiness of our intolerance and inhumanity. Rather than lift one another up, we are focusing on how to keep certain segments of our society and nation down. Instead of combining our efforts towards a common good, we are dividing our abilities and assets in multiple directions, attempting to eviscerate those perceived to be enemies, rather than focusing on healing our collective national wounds.
The “why” is not the issue, nor is the “who.” What is now the issue is the “how,” as in how can we right this ship before it hits the rocks, because our own ignorance, intolerance, and inability to see the forest for the trees has extinguished the beacon of enlightenment perched upon the precipice. Naturally, there are those who say this light has not been extinguished, merely obscured. If so, that fog is pretty damned thick.
What we, as American, fail to remember is that there are no easy answers to anything in life. Many, especially pundits and radio hosts, like to wax romantically at the “good old days,” talk about how the government was once so small and regulations so few that people could innovate, build vast empires of wealth, and create rags-to-riches stories. What these folks fail to grasp is the collateral damage involved in these stories and the struggles taken to level the playing field. Others fail to understand those who created these empires are now also attempting to maintain them, and the lifestyles afforded by them, in ways which run directly contrary to the original intent of the Founders. Of course, these folks are also co-opting others who, either out of ignorance, fear or hate, have found some form of collective sense of acceptance in ideologies based upon perverted versions of political or theological thought, much of which have been concocted out of a desire by those in positions of power and influence to merely maintain said position for them and their posterity.
Sickening? Yes. Real? Even more so.
Our nation has, indeed, reached a tipping point. Many of us have refused to act out of a sense of fear, or a simple desire to focus on our daily lives. This is understandable; most Americans are busy trying to survive, many are just doing their best to keep from falling behind in a landscape increasingly tilted towards those who are capable of quickly and efficiently, through either informal or legal means, acquire more wealth, power, and influence. The notion of a “New Feudalism” is not the province of conspiracy theorists – it is a clear and present threat to the very fabric of our national vitality, and one which must be confronted directly.
Yes, ISIS is a visceral danger to our nation, as is our national debt, as is illegal immigration, but our collective will to focus our economic and military might is misplaced. The notions of “giving jobs” to terrorists or achieving “social justice” to create racial harmony are much a song of misguided angels as is the belief that abandoning our own constitution and imposing a theocratic biblical legal system will cure our ills. The solution lies in a simultaneous evaluation of both our Founders intentions, the struggles our nation endured through its darkest hours, and the innovative potential of our current and upcoming generations. Rather than embracing the “herd mentality” of red and blue, liberal and conservative, believers and nonbelievers, and the simple black and white of absolutist approaches, we must conceive a new way of thinking.
Pulling our nation back from the brink requires the sort of ideas which abandon the social Darwinism of the current perverse strain infecting both liberal and conservative thought, and a return to classic American ideals which often seem contradictory when viewed on their own, but work symbiotically to create a national identity so envied that many now seek it out for destruction, rather than transplantation. Those ideals – liberty, community service, national unity, economic and environmental harmony, religious tolerance, and the ever-so-lofty goal of all created equal under God – truly are the stuff of a nation which is a beacon to the world. We are truly a nation in need of a rebirth of freedom, which must also come with full knowledge of the responsibility that we must allowed ourselves to be both one and together, individuals and community, to create a new nation, a reborn nation, which may again be a light of hope to all who grasp for it.