It’s late, I’m tired and I need to sleep. You see, my health has not exactly been the best the past few months and late nights extract a very real price these days. But I can’t sleep. So, here I am, behind my keyboard, trying to figure out how to explain exactly what it is I’m feeling.
Tonight, there’s something new tearing at my heart. I suddenly find I have little concern for the affairs of our President, or even his Party. Nor do I care about the Republicans. In fact, I am starting to realize I care less and less about politics and more about doing the right thing – no matter what. I’ve spent the past several months trying to be a red meat political blogger and I’m sick of it. It’s not me – at least, it didn’t used to be. Honestly, I don’t like the way I sound when I write that way, so I can understand why others don’t, either. It serves no purpose but to divide us, and we’re divided enough already. I’m through with it. I don’t need to add to what is wrong with this nation; I want to help correct it.
At the same time, I realize that the things that matter most to me are apparently from a bygone age. The more I clash with people I trust and respect, the more I hear that my beliefs are archaic. That’s making it even harder to accept the state of our nation as it is forcing me to realize the nation I grew up in, the nation I loved, the nation I gave my health for is…is no more.
My America was a land where people cared about each other, personally. They went to visit their friends, not text them on a lifeless screen. Heck, my kids won’t even pick up the phone anymore, not if they can text instead. At least I got yelled at for talking on the phone for hours. I may not have been able to actually be with my friends, but I could hear their voice. How do you hear the love or feel the pain or sense the frustration in your friends’ voices through that screen — especially when our ability to write well enough to convey such things has declined along with our ability to share them? OMG IDK! See what I mean?
My America was a land where people helped each other. They didn’t ask permission or wait for some government agency to send help. If a neighbor needed help, they helped. I can remember actually being sent next door for milk or sugar – and I got it. I remember being told to mow the neighbor’s yard because he was ill or working long hours. I can remember my father helping whenever there were problems in our community, and in the 70’s, there was always something happening in the northern peninsula of Michigan where people needed help. One of the strongest memories I have is of my mother telling me about the time my father volunteered to go out into a storm to help search the coast of Lake Superior. He was looking for the crew of a sunken iron ore ship: the crew of the Edmunds Fitzgerald. I remember that storm, and I remember hurricanes Opal and Ivan. I would have sooner gone out into the teeth of either Opal or Ivan than have gone out into that storm in ’75, but my father went – because people needed help.
My America was a land where people did the right thing – even if it cost them personally. It was a given that this meant doing my chores and homework – without having to be told and checked on. My father raised me to think of others, and not to take what didn’t belong to me. That didn’t just mean no stealing, but to mind my place in line and not to cut. It meant I shouldn’t try to place myself ahead of someone who may have worked for and earned a reward or position. I was expected to work for it, myself – to earn it. It meant I did not accept handouts: as long as I could work, I was expected to at least do something in return. And it meant I was expected to be fair, to tell the truth and to take responsibility for my own actions – even if it meant suffering the consequences. But the hardest part for me to learn was that I was expected to be selfless when others were in danger. It is impossible for me to imagine my father ever sitting by and watching others in peril. If there was even the slightest possibility he could help, he would have – even at the cost of his own life.
But above all, My America was a land where we cherished our freedom. We were proud of that freedom, and we honored the men and women who purchased it with their lives. These were the ideals that made up the essence of what it meant to be an American, and our families taught them to their children – so they would know and understand how precious liberty is, and so they would pass it on to their children. In my America, our schools didn’t abuse our parents’ trust or destroy their work by teaching us this was a bad country. Our schools worked with our parents – reinforcing these same values. The same went for our TV and radio programming and the picture shows at the theater.
That was my America: a land where people tried to live these ideals. No one thought we were perfect, not by a long shot. We knew we were human, and we made mistakes, but we tried to live these ideal in our daily lives – even if it did seem like a fairy tale. And, when someone did wrong, they were punished according to the law, not according to how much money they had, who they knew a or how slick their lawyer was. Sure, we missed the mark as often as we hit it, but that was the point: we did hit it. It was these ideal that showed us the way and guided our feet. That was the America in which I grew up.
But now, now I understand that America only exists in my memory. She’s gone, and I kid myself to think she will or even can come back. We were founded by men who were honest and honorable enough to actually put their nation first – and did. Today, we are lead by people who would bury their mother alive to hold on to their wealth, power or status for just one more day. How does one come back from such decay?
So, here I sit, wondering how many like me are left in this nation? How many are still willing to place ideal and principle before all other concerns? How many will place the welfare of others before their own? How many are still willing to sacrifice themselves for this nation, for an ideal that is long gone? We lost two men in Libya last month who we know did just that and we have learned a General risked his career by signaling his intention to defy orders not to help. On 9/11, we learned that several Americans answered that call on flight 93. But, for every American we discover has paid the ultimate price, we find another who is willing to send those precious few who still remain to their deaths so they can stand on their bodies. So I wonder, are there enough left?
But you know what hurts the most? What hurts the most is the revelation of just how many Americans do not care about any of this. Most don’t see it, and the majority of those who do believe they are among those few remaining patriots. They believe that, because they are for “the right Party,” or because their Party claims to support and defend the Constitution, that this counts them among the patriots. Well, I suppose it does, and I will not begrudge them their passion. It’s just that, if they truly understood this nation, they would understand the men who founded it cared less about Party and more about principles and morality. Our founders built a nation upon the ideals and principles expressed in our Declaration of Independence. They were depending on us to remain honorable, God fearing people because only an honorable, God fearing people is capable of keeping those ideals and principles alive. Our founders knew this to be true and they told us so, they told us because they knew that it takes an honorable, God fearing nation to stand up in the storm.
I’m heartbroken because I know there’s a storm coming. It makes no difference who wins the election next week; this nation is going to be tested. We have designed our own demise, and we did it because we were all too worried about ourselves to worry about the needs of others, or our nation. Now we are about to be tested, and history will judge whether or not we are worthy of more time or whether we should go the way of every other corrupt republic. I just pray we have enough strength left in the roots of that old Liberty Tree to hold up one more time – and that our sons and daughters will rise up and carry the torch we dropped for our cell phones, Star Bucks coffee and personal agendas.