Once upon a time, America did have the right to be a proud nation. Perhaps we had the right to even call ourselves the Greatest Nation, but we never would have done so. Not during those times at least, because the people knew the values of modesty, hard-work and integrity.
My father was a part of the Greatest Generation: he fought in Germany, marched in Birmingham and proudly stood attention when in America, all men were created equal. I was but a baby in the womb while my mother marched with black people, striving for rights on par with everyone else. I can remember vividly stories of my father’s father, working his farm hard each day to provide for his family. One day he turned his interests to politics and become quite wealthy: but every waking moment he was not campaigning, he was on his farm, working his land, feeding his family, instilling the values of hard work into my father.
America during the time of our fathers and mothers was different. We were not a perfect country. Not by any means. But we had a robust attitude of progress and purpose that could not be matched. The woes and wrongs of our laws were righted by steadfast faith in the Constitution that rules this land. And even in the most racist and backwards bastions of the South, the people there still believed in the cardinal American values: pride in hard work. Value by the merits of our actions. Faith in our unity in times of strife.
It was a good leader, President John F. Kennedy, who told us to ask not what our country can do for us, but what we could do for our country. And the people of that time responded: we dared volunteer to reach into the heavens themselves, if only for the name of science and progress. We challenged an institution so old and perverse, that it nearly tore our country apart by the rooted seeds of hatred and bigotry. We built an economy so powerful, that the world took notice of a nation that who fifty years earlier — was a third-world laughing stock amongst a slew of aged European peers. But we stood strong and progressed, as we always had, for that is the nature of America.
But in today’s modern culture of superficial Facebook friendships, passing time with Honey Boo Boo and parents nourishing their children with Taco Bell Dorito shell dinners and the companionship of the internet, we are losing a great part of what this nation was meant to be. Our politicians trample upon the Constitution, only seeking to gain more power and control of segmented media so that their lobbies can make more money and line their coffers. The public grows more apathetic, asking what they can get for free in life without having to put in any hard work. No longer do we aspire to reach into the stars for the sake of science and purpose. We can only be motivated by money and greed, we can only put forth effort if prodded like cattle.
The clip from NewsRoom is powerful, as it captures the chest-thumping idiocy that lost Mitt Romney the last election, but also the naive idiocy that has people thinking Barack Obama is some sort of savior in a corrupt Washington. The problem with America is that we, as a people, have lost the heart of who we truly are and can be. Our pride is empty, our nation’s soul is replete. We are an empty shell of our former glory. And we do not really know how to get it back.
And why don’t we know?
Because we have not only forgotten the lessons of our forefathers, but we have lost the drive to put in the hard work it takes to make a nation great.
Until we beat idiocy out of Washington, take time for our family every day and insist on furthering ourselves not just for money, but for the purpose of progress, we will never be great again.
For the greatest steps of mankind do not come without sacrifice. They are not always lined with glimmering gold or sheets of green monetary cushion.
They come through tears. Hard work. Determination. Internal fortitude. The idea that what we are doing may not be appreciated now, but will be looked upon by future generations. It will inspire others to achieve. Our acts will live on through the ages of mankind. Our sacrifices will not be forgotten.
It is during times that we fail to act, we fail to make great strides, that the greatest of evil and worst of humanity can come to power.
And it is when we do take action, and stand up for what is right, that we achieve greatness and life for all generations.