Two Steps Toward America’s Renewal

Watching the blizzard of bad news these days, it is hard to decide what is merely moderately bad and what is very bad indeed. 

Whether the stories are about war, debt, natural disaster, man-made catastrophe, or individual depravity, it is hard not to be revolted by six year old children shooting their teachers, the distinct possibility that the Chinese have spent years funneling cash to President Biden and his family, a series of bank failures that have exposed the tremendous fragility of our economy, skyrocketing crime and mental health problems, or yet more evidence that our government has pursued a determined policy of lying to us and censoring its opponents. 

We have had tougher times in the history of our nation, but perhaps none quite so discouraging as we see throughout America today.

We look for truth, but we find propaganda. We hope for knowledge, yet we keep crashing into ossified ideologies that are anti-learning. We seek faith, but only hucksters who want to fleece us seem to be available. We yearn for leaders, yet only serial liars and loudmouths step to the forefront.

As I said, it’s discouraging.

Worst of all, honesty and integrity have evaporated as fundamental values in the lives of many Americans. This is a problem in our personal interactions, but it is a disaster now that this dysfunction has become the default mode of our professional and political classes, which astound us daily with their unashamed mendacity. 

Bureaucrats lie. Journalists lie. Doctors lie. Lawyers lie (of course). District Attorneys lie. Educators lie. Businesses lie. Police Officers lie. Politicians lie. Even reality television shows lie. We swim in a swamp of lies and liars who want our money and votes, so it is not a surprise that we are profoundly cynical about both our country’s leadership and one another. 

Of course, one person’s lies are another person’s truth, which has always been the case to some extent throughout human history; however, today one person’s truth seems to live on an entirely different planet than another’s truth. 

During the Middle Ages, for example, there were innumerable disagreements regarding the proper way to worship God—but there was a general agreement God existed. Getting Americans to agree on whether our national borders are secure, our exploding federal debt is a problem, male and female are the only two genders, our public schools are effectively educating our children, or racism is still prevalent in our nation today is a near impossibility.  Lacking common beliefs, we find common cause more difficult than ever, which goes a long way toward explaining why so many problems facing America now fester without any clear solutions or resolutions.

Frustration, curdling into disillusionment and disgust, is the eventual outcome when concerned Americans daily see their streets growing more unsafe, their economic security diminished, their nation’s military degraded, their pride in our country being ridiculed, our children growing more unhappy and afraid—and our national dialogue dominated by extremists. To not even be able to have a respectful and reasonable conversation about whether we should allow confused 13 year-old girls to have mastectomies or if San Francisco should hand a $5 million check to every Black resident as reparations speaks to a country where a meeting of the minds is nearly impossible.

However, commentators and politicians who propose a “national divorce” are preaching to the worst instincts among their own followers and suggesting a path that is both impracticable and pointless. We are not going to split apart; that is a fact. Therefore, we must find some way to live together.

So what must we do now?

My first piece of advice to every American is this: Do your damned job, and mind your own business.

Teachers must remember to teach only the subject matter they were hired to teach and leave the raising of children to parents and a child’s extended family. 

Professional athletes must remember to play their games and stop trying to be shock troops for all variety of Woke ideologies. 

Journalists must recommit themselves to publishing verifiable facts—not fevered partisan rumors—and save their editorializing for the commentaries that identify themselves as opinion rather than news.

Government at all levels must remember that declaring war on organized religion and traditional values is far outside their responsibilities. 

District Attorneys must remember that their job is to enforce the laws passed by elected legislators, not to use their offices as a social justice cudgel or vehicle for political retribution.

Colleges must remember that their responsibility is to open minds and promote free inquiry instead of suppressing dissenting ideas and censoring thoughts some DEI Dean deems unacceptable.

Corporations must remember their job is to produce quality products and services at a reasonable price without all the preaching and posturing that Woke craziness has brought into the business world.

If everyone could just keep in mind that we live in an extraordinarily diverse nation that can thrive only if diverse ideas and opinions are readily respected—so keeping your nose out of everyone else’s affairs is a darned good idea—a lot of today’s overheated rhetoric would vanish overnight because much of the virtue signaling that drives our daily societal discord would vanish.

Second, we must all better understand and celebrate the undeniable genius of the Constitutional system of government bequeathed to us by America’s founding fathers.

To have so many of our citizens wholly unfamiliar with basic documents of our nation such as The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, The Federalist Papers, Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, The Emancipation Proclamation, and so many others is a dangerous dereliction of a primary duty to our nation and ourselves.

We must have a clear historical understanding of the difficult choices, terrible mistakes, and incredible hardships that have shaped our country and our people. Our unspeakable ignorance of our own country’s conflicted path speaks to our lazy presumption that today’s America can continue to flourish without us possessing a thoughtful understanding of it antecedents.  

Our minds must be strong if we hope to hold onto the rights and privileges that previous generations of Americans have shed so much blood to bequeath to us. It might, in fact, do us well to remember the words of President Dwight Eisenhower in his first Inaugural Address in 1953: “We must be willing to dare all for our country, for history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.” 

We betray ourselves and leave our nation vulnerable to the depredations of demagogues and dimwits if we readily accept our own stupidity and cowardice. Therefore, we can begin—and, be certain, only begin—to save and strengthen America if we stop frittering away our national resolve by searching for the dumbest possible fights to have among ourselves in a vain search for empty meaning in our empty lives.

At the same time we must fortify our minds with the documented thought and wisdom of our collective past as a necessary part of rebuilding the respectful yet rebellious civic culture that allowed a shaky confederation of former British colonies to become the most powerful nation the modern world has ever known.

To adopt these two steps would be a start toward making better choices for both ourselves and the future of America. Today’s loud, stupid, and unproductive political, social, and cultural path is an idiotic circus that provides entertainment for some but enlightenment for none while enabling the most ignorant and foolish among us to drag America down the path of national self-destruction.