A Note To My Kids..America Still ROCKS!
by Stephen Doherty
“There are those, I know, who will reply that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is.
It is the American Dream.” –Archibald MacLeish
Dear Braden and Julia,
Despite the nonstop negativity, histrionics, and embrace of victimhood as a status symbol in today’s America-I urge you to view this great nation we live in with the same awe, respect, and excitement that I still do. This is the greatest nation on the planet and absent a free and thriving United States, the world would sink into chaos and oblivion in short order. As citizens, you share equally in the tremendous bounties afforded you, coupled with the awesome responsibility to preserve and protect our liberties and freedoms that came at such a high cost. You’ll soon assume ownership of the lantern my father gave me and that his father gave him.
We hear today that our culture and society has never been worse. Everywhere we look, new lines are drawn in the sand-daring us to aggrieve or offend yet another newly declared nest of victims. The volume of negative public discourse and waves of animus and hatred seem to engulf us today at unprecedented levels. There is talk of a coming Civil War between factions of our citizenry that don’t like each other’s politics, or clothing, or interpretations of the Constitution. In short, “Things have never been worse!” Don’t you believe it-not for a second!
I read a lot of history. I think if more people understood where we’ve been and where we came from -they’d share my amusement at the notion that today’s rancor and discord is anything more than a lot of sniveling, whining, and finger-pointing. A generation ago we fought a noble and bloody battle for civil rights. Today? A good portion of citizens think “emotional comfort” should be written into the Constitution. Eighty years ago-Europe was looking across their landscape at a buzzing beehive of violent civil unrest that would soon result in the deaths of 100 million global citizens. Today? We’re lamenting tariffs on soy beans or the color of someone’s ball cap–and calling every trivial form of protest a “war” for social justice. George Washington was barely in office a matter of weeks before rancerous discord and citizen uprisings and anger were often settled in pistol duels. The post Civil War South was a bombed out and desolate nest of hatred and racial violence that lasted a centry. Today? Kids in Kindergarten are being expelled and sent home for nibbling their Pop Tarts into the shape of a gun.
The impressions and suggestions that we are a nation in decline are merely a reflection of life in a social media fishbowl. We are witnessing a cultural and societal phenomonon where streams of consciousness and every thought, notion, gripe, comment, and observation become their own mini-version of the six o’clock news. Self-importance reigns supreme and any perceived slight becomes a new cause celebre. My advice? You can’t ignore it but you can laugh at it and see it for what it is. Like humidity, it is now a part of our everyday lives but it doesn’t have to influence how you live nor interrupt or distract you from the pursuit of your dreams and aspirations.
So there you have it. Maybe now you understand why we enforce “no whining” zones and have banned the word “offended” from our vocabularies. Despite the 24/7 news cycle that is increasingly negative and dismissive of this great nation and its heroic history, the only limitations you will ever experience, will be self-administered. The American dream is alive and well if you have the courage and committment to chase it down. I am quite confident that someday you will look back at your lives from the mountain tops and proudly relish the chosen path that got you there.
“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.” ― Theodore Roosevelt