With Great Power Comes Great Sacrifice
It is something of a cliché in modern times to state what “America was built on” but I will invoke my First Amendment here and say that America was built on sacrifice. It isn’t to say that the land itself wasn’t occupied before Europeans began showing up but to that measure no one in the past or even the present isn’t guilty of “taking land” a concept I find laughable for various reasons. However I am not speaking to America’s past, bloody and stained though it maybe, but its future.
It is true to say that much of America’s history is filled with bigotry, hate, and unimaginable cruelty, few reasonable people in today’s political climate would disagree, but it is too true to say that much of the luxuries and rights we enjoy today have been won through failure, endurance and immense amounts of sacrifice. This ideal is given a special place by the American Right and is personified, in their eyes, by the American soldier; the desire to defend people. And for the so-called bleeding heart American Left? What else but charity, the desire to give. If you’re following along at home this concept harkens back to my last post about the Duality of Man, in that both mindsets are somewhat at odds with each other but both are sacrifices and both are equally valid. In this case both concepts are of the kinder and more compassionate type but they can also reveal themselves in terrible ways too.
Let it be known that I am not referring to martyrdom here, there is much to be said about the American propensity to make one’s self a victim of foolish endeavors but again this is not the topic. No, the sacrifice of which I speak is of great and memorable Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks and the sacrifices they made for the betterment of us all. People, no humans, like them looked beyond their terrible times and endured, they illuminated the evil of their time for all the world to see and fought it, sometimes giving up everything they had including their own lives. They not only fought for themselves but something greater, us, the U.S. and its future. They brought people together and allowed the best parts of humanity to shine through but in order to do so they suffered, sometimes greatly. They held fast though and our country is better now for it but as anyone can see in order for there to be sacrifice there must also be suffering.
Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You
America is suffering. Its officials and institutions have failed them. Its once powerful government stalled and infested with bought and paid for politicians, its once world renown infrastructure crumbling and antiquated. Its once respected and orderly military bloated, mismanaged and exhausted from years of war. All facets of American society have fallen into disarray and its populace is divided to the last having lost all sense of both community and unity. And in our reeling stupor we elected a vulgar billionaire turned B-list reality TV star with questionable financial ethics, a flare for the ridiculous and a bad comb-over to the highest office in the land. But before anyone who voted for him can lambaste me with “we need America to focus on America, if we can’t help ourselves how can we help others” or with “illegal immigration is undermining the American workforce” let me say that I understand many of your concerns better than you think. While I will only touch on that here please understand that I am not assigning blame to one particular group, this is the fault of all of Americans.
It doesn’t matter if it is the fault of the spineless and lethargic Left or the constantly misinformed and religiously overzealous Right because both are correct. Americans have lost something, something more than just their control over their government, they have lost their sense of Civic Duty and their sense of sacrifice. We cannot solely offer our lives and be stingy with your money, nor can we do the inverse. The salvation our nation demands both for it is not flags, anthems or land we fight for but the lives of our fellow Americans. This is what Civic Duty demands.
But what is Civic Duty? It is an abstract concept that implies some allegiance to the government and has actions you take to support that government but I think it is something more than that. What is a government but a representation of its people? The purpose of a government is to care for and help the people living under it. And if the people of that society make up that government than what is Civic Duty but an obligation to your fellow man, a contract between all Americans; the idea that we will look after one another in both times of peace and times of war. A government is merely a mechanism for achieving that goal, the caring for of a people. The efficiency of this kind of government is controlled through its populace, if the populace is uneducated, frightened and easily manipulated through financial and political means than so too will be the government. Or as George Carlin once so eloquently put it “When you have selfish ignorant citizens you’ll have selfish ignorant politicians. Garbage in, garbage out.”
We no long have a sense of thoughtfulness or care, we move seamlessly from one outrage to the next seeking the one we can blame in hopes that finding that one person we will come to the root of our problem. But it is not one person, not even Trump. Trump, dislike him as I may, is merely a symptom of a greater malady. America, as a nation, is lost, tired, angry, and frightened, desperately grasping at anything it can for stability. These mental and physical states show up in how we interact both online and in person. When someone challenges our views we snap and retort cruelly, when a homeless man sits next to us on a bench we glance up nervously from our ever illuminated screens. We seek out nostalgia in hopes that the familiar will bring us comfort. We spend hours reading page after page of holy books, self-help books, talking to gurus and shamans, all in hopes they can cure what ails us but to no avail. Our country cannot be saved by holy words or self-obsession, we must save each other because we are the ones who have failed each other. The government is our construct, it is our design, We The People run it and We The People must fix it using Civic Duty, careful thought and sacrifice.
Back To The Future Part IV
The question, I think, on everyone’s mind, regardless of party, is “What does the future hold, what does America look like going forward?” Well. I don’t know. To me it doesn’t look good, our anger and division have clouded our judgment and robbed us of our wits. To say it is, and I think always will be, uncertain is not an unreasonable statement. Do not think I am being dramatic simply because I dislike President Trump. No, we’ve weathered Bush and we will weather Trump. That is the Civic Duty of the nation now, to endure and overcome. I’ve said before, though never on here, that I hope I am wrong about President Trump and the future of our nation is more secure than I think but if I am not than we have a hard road ahead of us.
As it stands I think most Americans get that we are living in a time of uncertainty. Free speech is under assault from both sides, violence, protests and shouts of revolt, resistance and revolution are sprouting everywhere. Acts of terror leave us paralyzed, accusations of government corruption, collusion, and all manner of criminality send us into endless bouts of finger-pointing. All this while the average America suffers in silence and has been so for some time.
Our so-called “salvation” will not be born of religion or billionaires, it will be born of reason, perspective and patience. Christians have a saying that I think fits nicely here “You cannot buy your way into Heaven.” What I mean by this is we, as a society, or in the grander sense species, cannot purchase our future. There is no omniscient bouncer offering passage through the proverbial velvet rope to eternal happiness and no amount of money can buy everlasting security. If anything all of our wealth and celebrity has made us disconnected. We stare down our noses at those in our own communities and assert ourselves as judge, jury and executioner on the global scale. For all our bluster and bragging about our place in the world what we really are is a nation of poor people ruled by rich people, sad and so uneducated that to even suggest the nation is anything but a shining monument to freedom and power is to invite scorn and derision. But it isn’t that and hasn’t been so for some time.
If you look at the slogans of both Trump and Obama, change, hope, and MAGA, you can clearly see that America is looking for something new. This is a sentiment echoed by both sides and is a sentiment I too share. America is in need of a reinvention, an ideological cleansing, to wash away much of the old and tired rhetoric. Like a once beautiful car or well built home left to rot it needs to stripped to its frame before it can regain any of its once former glory. This will be our sacrifice, to strip away from ourselves the tired, the old and the useless. To rebuild America it will require all of us, a great coming together of all sides, classes and theological beliefs or lack there of but this Great American Renovation comes at a price.
As I said people speak of resistance and rebellion but I ask of those that do are you ready to sacrifice? Can you hold steadfast to what you say and take the risk inherent in the words you speak? Because if you cannot then we go nowhere. I would ask the same of those who wish to “Make America Great Again.” Do you know what that entails? What sacrifices are you are willing to make for the sake your beloved greatness? I know many in this camp will happily tell me they will sacrifice their own lives for our nation but what of the life of your son, daughter, brother or sister? What about your money? Your home? These will be the things you will all be asked to sacrifice. These sacrifices will remind us of what we fight for and our Civic Duty will remind us why.
Civic Duty is less about the preservation of the government and more about the preservation of the citizen’s place in that government. It is a place that now sits vacant and it is the interest of the corrupt elements of our society that it remain so. It is in our best interest to fill this vacancy, to once again be a part of our government. It is the only option if we are to wrest the power of our nation away from the corrupt, the greedy and the ignorant. Make no mistake this will not be an easy task but if we are willing to sacrifice and not back down then we can rebuild America. It can once again be a place of intelligence, kindness, freedom, dignity and yes, even greatness but only if we are willing to make the sacrifice of Civic Duty. Only if We The People seek to create, not a perfect union, but simply a better one. This is our duty, to sacrifice today for the sake of tomorrow and it requires us all.