Things I Miss About America
"We never had it so good!" Really?
I suppose that today’s American politicians are no better and no worse than politicians of old, but (unless our educational system has declined…and some say it definitely has) they should be smarter (and more clever?) than before.
In addition, the level of political compromise seems to have slipped. Promises of “bipartisanship” where the national interest is concerned, (look it up in a dictionary, if like our leaders you have forgotten what "bipartisanship" is supposed to mean) have been all but abandoned.
When I was growing up 60 years ago, the theme of the Dumas’ three musketeers was still alive and well: “One for all, and all for one.” We were Americans, and that meant we knew how to sacrifice for our fellow Americans, and they knew how to sacrifice for us. Fortunately that spirit of noble sacrifice saw us through World War II and earned us the title of “The Greatest Generation.”
Nowadays it seems that shared sacrifice is a thing of the past, while greed and selfishness are in the ascendancy. “Yes, but what’s in it for me?” seems to be the modern battle cry, whereby we fight with each other over any remaining spoils of today’s economic and social systems gone haywire.
Admittedly life was simpler then. America still had a lot of family farms and cities were safer, even desirable places to find good jobs, culture, and entertainment, better schools, and the ideal of “modern living.” In addition, if times got tough many Americans could still go back to the countryside and provide for themselves. Not simply move to the city and expect an impoverished government to do everything for them.
Today’s cities seem to have failing schools, declining opportunities for work, a culture of what can least critically be called “sensationalism” while the infrastructure and public debt of most major cities is in disarray and getting worse.
Some would say that today’s military is stronger and better for having become an “all volunteer force.” But it is strained from overuse, the failure to even qualify of many who would volunteer, and a growing technical gap where the educations needed to cope with cyber, biological, and technical threats to America’s security now threaten us all like never before.
It used to be that two wide oceans, a two fleets Navy, and the Monroe Doctrine, gave us a calm assurance that we could be insulated from the criminals and despots from other failed societies. Now we know that indeed “the world has become smaller” and we are not only a part of a poorly understood “global economy” but that terrorism is an every day threat to our way of life, causing us to spend billions and billions from an already depleted treasury just to try to defend what was once thought of as “Fortress America.”
Lest we think “it is all bad!” we do have what is called “entertainment” that our ancestors never dreamed of (and would in many respects be ashamed of.) Our entertainers are among our richest citizens, while our educators remain among the lowest paid per hour devoted to their job of preparing our youth for today’s international competition,. Our professional sports stars can afford to be “on strike” for more and more, and the old dynamo of American industrial strength has seen the disappearance of core industries that allowed for our independence, self-providence, and national security.
The oil supply our nation once took for granted, along with our abundant supply of coal, gave us all the cheap energy to light our homes, fuel our cars, and drive our economy to surpass all other nations. Now our dependence on foreign oil drives us into overseas alliances and adventures that are at war with the principles which made America so special and a beacon to the world.
It’s enough to make us older Americans wistful for what we call “the good old days.” And, sad that our children and grandchildren may not even know what we think they are missing.
© 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
What do I miss the most?
- I Am Wistful
Is all of this too much to ask? If so, I must remain wistful.