Early in the last century, our country began to take a leading role on the world stage. Our democracy, built on a firm foundation of freedom to pursue life without interference from autocratic governments, flourished with innovation and confidence. Our business climate led to industrial strength, wealth and success for anyone who wanted to work hard to make their dreams come true. Wave after wave of immigrants arrived on our shores, determined to find their way in this new and vibrant country. They learned the language and labored to give their children better lives than their own. Whatever their ethnicity, they became Americans and in the process made this country stronger and even more diverse.
But somewhere along the way we lost that vision of who Americans are. We stopped being responsible for ourselves, our decisions, and our lives. We lost a sense of respect for our fellow citizens, from our leaders to our neighbors. We tend to ask “what’s in it for me?” to any request for our time, talent or treasure. Our children are growing up in a world where they expect the government to take care of them, to provide food and shelter when they hit difficult times, jobs and job security, and subsidies for college. Illegal immigrants expect amnesty when they break our laws and even many of the legal immigrants expect to cash in on the benefits of living here without working for them.
When I was growing up, if I got in trouble at school, I just prayed my father wouldn’t find out because I knew there would be additional discipline when I got home. In today’s world the miscreant’s father is more likely to head right down to the school to give the teacher a hard time for being too hard on his poor misunderstood child. We might as well remove the word accident from the dictionary because lawyers would have us believe there is always someone who can be blamed and sued for obscene amounts of money. What happened to taking responsibility for the choices we make that result in unpleasant consequences? Or just accepting the fact that sometimes bad things happen and it’s no one’s fault? When did we stop expecting people to work for the things they wanted or to pay for the bad choices they made?
We’ve let people with no faith dictate the way we live and removed any sense of morality from public life, and yet we act shocked when misbehavior escalates to mayhem. We overlook the dishonesty of our elected officials and continue to elect men and women who have lied to us and made selfish choices that are not in the best interest of the people they have been elected to serve, but more often taken only with the goal of getting elected again. We should be holding our leaders to a higher standard, rather than lowering our expectations.
We’ve failed to teach our children self-discipline, self-respect and patience. We hand out trophies for participation rather than award hard work and excellence. Any expert in child development will tell you that children gain confidence from achievement based on their own efforts, not from empty praise and easy rewards. If a child grows to adulthood without learning how to set goals, and how to make sacrifices and work hard to reach them, how to fail and get back up again, then they end up lacking confidence. The Can-Do mindset that Americans have always been known for in the past fades quickly when we sit back and wait for someone else to make our lives what we expect them to be. And that lack of self-respect easily becomes a lack of respect for everyone else.
It’s time to stop the landslide into mediocrity. It’s time to take a hard look at the wishy-washy, political correctness of our current mind-set. It’s time to start being honest with ourselves and with each other and to demand that people start taking responsibility. An appalling 36.4 percent of eligible voters actually voted in 2014 – the lowest figure since WWII. Apathy is rampant, and it’s the road to ruin. If we don’t want to work for it, we won’t keep it. If we are not willing to fight for our country we will lose it to others who are more motivated and willing to do whatever it takes to defeat us. If America is to remain strong and vibrant for our grandchildren and their children, it’s time to take a serious look at the policies that have eroded our economy and our leadership. It’s time to stop playing partisan politics and make the hard choices that will be required to turn tide.
We have heard a lot about heroism in the news lately, but heroism apparently stops at the front door of Congress and the White House. Unfortunately these views are for the most part, politically incorrect. Which leads me to wonder if the death of America will be at the hand of political correctness and a lack of courage. What a sad epitaph.