First and Foremost: This is in direct response to Robert Arnold’s post American Pride. Originally posted on March 19. I tried twice to respond and it was just too much. You probably need to read Robert’s American Pride post first.
I grew up a product of a life of privilege in, no question, the greatest country that has ever existed in all of history. The United States of America.
Post WWII America was the schizzle. GM and Ford dominated the world car market. Not because they built such fine automobiles (they didn’t) but because EVERYBODY ON EARTH WANTED A LITTLE BIT OF WHAT AMERICA HAD.
We had money and energy and most of all, potential. Education that was second to none (for most if not all). We could and did do everything. Everything.
No goal, no project, no challenge was too great. America can do.
We conceived of, designed, and built the first Atomic bomb in way less than 4 years in complete secrecy. America can do.
I saw and worked on the construction of the interstate highway system, which allows us to zip anyplace at anytime. Amazing.
We sent men to the moon and brought them back. In the course of a single decade from the challenge of a brand new President. With a computer system that did not exist at the start of the project. The very most sophisticated of the computers at the end of the project do not equal the average smartphone today. America can do!
Several things. We took the flower off a complete generation (mine) by fighting a war that we had no business in. 58,500 young men never got to fulfil the American dream because they never came home. Another 500,000 came home as damaged goods and we are still battling that problem.
Security. Some how, somewhere, security for each and every citizen became a priority and then an obsession. We have traded freedom and self determination for security. My first car (1964 Barracuda) didn’t have seat belts in it, they weren’t required. There was no such thing as ‘child proof caps’. We didn’t grope 80 year old women in an airport looking for explosives.
Somewhere, we turned a corner, lost some of our conviction. What can I do? has somehow morphed into What’s in it for me?
I said at the start that I come from a privileged life. I do. I had the privilege to do what ever I wished and to reap the rewards or pay the consequences of my actions. I didn’t grow up with . money, I grew up with the ability and desire to work. I bought my first motorcycle almost exactly 50 years ago with a loan against a job that I needed the bike for. I paid cash for my 1964 Barracuda in 1966 with money I earned at that job. I was 16. Nobody can go to work at age 12 now…
We are 10 years into not one but 2 wars that we had absolutely no chance of winning on the first day. Really? What did we learn in Vietnam?
We have sacrificed a huge percentage of our rights and freedoms on the altar of Security. We have taught our children to look to authority instead of looking inside themselves. We do not even have the will to force Congress to make a budget, let alone a project for the ages.
Do I think it’s hopeless?
Not even a little bit. We are, after all is said and done, the United States of America. We determine the path and actions we take. We are ruled by the majority with respect toward the minority. Greatness still lives within us.
Are we the best country on earth? Maybe. It takes some time to look back and see how we have done… There are still a huge fraction of the population of earth that would risk their lives to come to the US. As surely as moths to a light. Must mean something.
I’m just sayin’