The human condition, when viewed over the long span of history, has been characterized by randomness that sometimes congeals into coherence.
Most of our daily activities revolve around a determined quest to meet our basic needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, and companionable flesh, and the confusing complexity and interconnectedness of early 21st century life merely distract us from these mundane central goals of our daily existences.
However, all of us want to serve—at least for a short time—some higher purpose that drags our everyday lives to a more exalted plane.
We seek transcendence in many ways, and these likely vary over the course of our lives. We may find a higher purpose through religion, art, child rearing, hobbies, marriage, sports, cars, warfare, drugs, public service, our careers, or innumerable other pursuits that excite our minds, bodies, and spirits. We yearn for that which distracts us from the plodding routine of so much of our short time on earth, and we hope to end our days with feelings of personal satisfaction and accomplishment that make our lives seem worthwhile and meaningful.
Our ties to national identities throughout the long span of civilization have provided a mechanism for obtaining the physical comforts and personal security that are unavailable to us as individuals. However, we sometimes forget that our efforts to work collaboratively to meet our daily needs simultaneously reveal and develop our desires for values and ideas that provide us with a purpose—and hopefully a sense of pride as well.
Hard work, sacrifice, and inevitable loss are easier to bear when we see our blood and sweat building and protecting our country. The narrative of nationhood, those ideals we presume to represent through our words and actions, are just as important as the manner in which our daily needs are met by our laws and leaders. Londoners managed, for example, to bravely and nobly persevere through the appalling carnage of ruthless German bombing during World War Two because of their pride in their nation and attachment to its ideals—not because of a bureaucratic decree.
This need for a national mission—and our current confusion over what this might be—is at the heart of much that ails America today. Material comforts have not soothed our restless souls, and may in many cases actually contribute to our malaise. Our traditional institutions of governance and education now find themselves in crisis because they have failed to demonstrate a clear, fair, and reasonable agenda that conforms to the aspirations and values of the majority of the American people, which explains much of the anger and distrust in our country today.
Americans are supremely frustrated with the our nation’s leaders and institutions as we watch them obliviously and insultingly operate at cross purposes with the needs and wants of our own lives.
Worse yet, an amazing number of those whom we entrust with the stewardship of our country and the education of our young today seem unable to say anything nice about either America or Americans, proclaiming that we are the worst people engaged in the worst possible behavior for the worst possible reasons. This is a depressing, disturbing, and divisive message that unfairly brands even the best among us as hateful people simply because of honest and heartfelt differences of opinion or values—which makes any reasonable discussion impossible.
However, setting aside the reductive and ridiculous arguments of those who use their lofty perches in politics and academia to denigrate America, there are clearly problems with our national direction—or lack thereof—that require our most careful consideration.
First of all, the history of the United States has long been synonymous with personal liberty and freedom of expression, and over the centuries this country has been a beacon for those suffering oppression all over the globe. However, the past two years of ridiculous personal restrictions that have been poorly justified as public health measures and the earlier advent of a pervasive national surveillance state that scans our mail, tracks our movements, photographs our license plates, monitors our online activities, and seeks to censor our public expression has called the basic premise of the American experiment into question.
Americans in early 21st century America have learned that to ask questions is to invite trouble, so many now find it safer and easier to sullenly acquiesce, which is a dangerous trend that empowers demagogues who violate our Constitution and herd us toward their own perverse vision of an slavishly obedient utopia.
In addition, America was also once known as a place on our troubled planet where the rule of law was as rigorously applied as was possible for imperfect humans to manage. Insiders, unsurprisingly, could many times find ways to wriggle free of punishment for their misdeeds, but the police and the courts generally worked to apply the law with as even a hand as they could manage given the inevitable political pressures placed upon them by those with money and power.
Sadly, a near-Biblical plague of Woke District Attorneys has decided that enforcing existing laws runs contrary to their dilettantish ideas regarding social justice, which has resulted in a frightening disconnect between crime and punishment in many of our beleaguered—and increasingly lawless—major cities. Fashionable but facile ideas about the innate goodness of felons, who apparently require only a stern admonishment to restore them to the path of unfailing righteousness, are putting citizens and property at risk, but this seems of little consequence to those whose privileged positions insulate them from the deadly consequences of the brain dead policies they blithely advocate.
Finally, American democracy itself now seems imperiled by moneyed special interests groups and billionaire autocrats that use their wealth to buy the attention and favor of elected officials, minions who thereafter use the powers of their offices to do the bidding of their masters—not the people. Moreover, it now seems impossible to do or say anything in America without bumping into a busybody bureaucrat waving a rule book, so participation in our democratic processes seems more and more the playground of attorneys and well-funded pressure groups who care for little else than satisfying their own client bases. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is rapidly becoming a distant memory rather than a living reality.
The sheer inability—or simple unwillingness—of many to see beyond the narrow confines of their own particular interests in order to consider the needs of our country as a whole has led to a rampaging case of national gridlock and parochialism that has paralyzed our search for reasonable consensus regarding a host of problems afflicted our country today.
America cannot thrive if our nationhood is merely a mechanism to cruelly and callously insult one another as a pretext for extracting money and privilege on behalf of one aggrieved constituency or another. However, this is exactly where we find ourselves today.
Too many Americans hate everyone else and, due to their our self-righteousness and insularity, consider themselves to be superior beings by virtue of their very loathings. Too many Americans feel they deserve a government handout to assuage their anger. Too many Americans ignore the real pain their unreasonable words and demands inflict on our country as a whole. Our present path is the short route to a national break up and bankruptcy—and too many of our leaders today are pushing America to the very brink of catastrophe.
The changes we require will need to start with each of us because we are the last chance for our nation. Whether this is still possible is an answer we shall have in very short order.