My Dear Friends,
Today, I’m writing to you while sitting on the screened porch, on a quiet early September afternoon, watching the tall pines bend and sway, and the clouds race across the sky like a herd of white buffalo before the storm…feeling the caress of the breeze…listening to a woodpecker drill tenaciously into a tree for shelter; to my neighbor’s tractor, as he traverses the fields ahead of the rain… and I’m thinking of my country, and my countrymen. And, I feel afraid… because there’s a storm of a different sort brewing in America, and it may be difficult to survive it.
Even my father – eighty-eight years old, and a loving, hardworking man – tells me that for the first time in his life, he, too, is afraid for his country. The most important thing I inherited from my Dad is his sense of optimism. No matter how bad things seem, they’ll get better; something will happen, prayers will be answered, circumstances will change, and men and women will somehow right the boat. I’ve always believed that we, as Americans, would never allow this country to become less than that “shining city on a hill”, if you’ll forgive perhaps an over-used, yet wildly under-appreciated phrase. Suddenly, I no longer feel that optimism.
My dearest readers, what has happened to The United States of America? Where are its people? Where is that hard-won pride, adamant resolve, healthy ambition, persistent, singleminded pursuit of happiness? Have we completely forgotten what – and who – we are? We are the country that fought for our freedom – and attained it; we demanded respect – and received it; we strove for equality – and achieved it; we reached for the stars – and lassoed the moon; we set our sights on ‘best in the world’ – and that’s what we became. There’s NOTHING that this country cannot do – just as there is nothing we, as individuals, cannot do – if our hearts and minds are in the right place, a place where freedom reigns above all else.
But, our freedom is disappearing. It is simply, unequivocally true – right here, right now, today. And, where are we? Watching “So You Think You Can Dance”? Following “Celebrity Marriage Bootcamp” on the Playpen Channel? Enthralled with “Game of Thrones”?
Unless we are old, sick and alone – a time when our fellow citizens are historically the most generous – why are we content to take handouts from someone else’s hard work? Why do we all feel so “owed”, like whiny, self-serving teenagers? Why are we okay with the “government” – meaning our own neighbors – subsidizing almost everything? Food, medical care, education, even birth control – these are OUR jobs, OUR decisions. This is not what government is for. Our great-grandparents not only would never have accepted it – they would have been ashamed.
How can we financially discipline ourselves and our families, pay our debts, save what we can, spend only what we have – but, allow our government to run unhindered, like a rabid dog, with our money? Our grandparents would never have permitted it! Why do we spend our days complaining about what we don’t have, expecting others to get it for us? Why aren’t we telling others thanks, but we’ll do it on our own, or die trying?! Because, Americans will never let you “die trying” – they are good and generous people – but, they’ll respect the hell out of you for the effort.
When did we stop laughing? At ourselves most of all? When did we start being offended at every innocent comment from another? When did we start walking around with our “dukes” up, ready to find offense where there truly isn’t any? When did we discover a right NOT to be offended? Or, presume to stop someone else whose opinion or behavior may not be our own, but who has every right in the world to say and to follow what HE believes in?
And, what about the safety of this country? How did we allow it to return to such complacent vulnerability after what happened to us on a beautiful, peaceful Tuesday morning almost 14 years ago? We, perhaps dutifully, apologize to other countries for past mistakes, yet neither expect nor demand the apologies due to us in return. And, we dismiss – and allow others to dismiss – the immeasurable good we have done mankind.
No, America is not perfect. But, it is the best country in the world! It’s where millions try to get in – not out. And, we are blessed – and should be so proud – to live here. So, why are we forgetting that? Why aren’t we standing up and shouting, “Enough! We want our nation back!”
There are many ways to do that, my friends. Most importantly, we must watch those who would lead us. We must learn all we can about them over the next 14 months. And, we must vote. We must do it – together. Because there’s a storm brewing, and I can only faintly see the lights now in that Shining City on a Hill.