Will the flag ever be up again?
Last Saturday, I attended a get-together of retired professionals at a local Barnes & Noble store. The meeting was just about to come to an end, when one gentleman asked a concerning question.
"That flag over there. Will it ever be up again?" He was talking about the Stars and Stripes next to a Chick-fil-A flying half-mast, probably because of the fatal shooting in Chattanooga (TN), costing the lives of five American soldiers. The question prompted the wheels of my mind to start spinning, similar to those of an aircraft taking off. Has America’s health truly deteriorated to such a degree, that it’s uncertain whether or not the eagle will continue to fly proudly?
Through the eyes of a newcomer
I may not have been born and raised in this country – I’m originally from the Netherlands – but as a little boy, I visited the United States several times, thanks to my father’s job in the sports world. Some of the impressions I got back then are no doubt destined to remain in my mind for the rest of my life. The lady at Disney World telling us to sit down so everyone could watch a parade, the spectacular views under water that SeaWorld had to offer, a trip with a speed boat on a lake and seeing the Twin Towers from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City are just a handful of the numerous experiences I cherish and remember as if it were yesterday.
If someone would have told me, let’s say, seven years ago that I would end up marrying an American woman and living in the States, I would have raised some serious concerns about the drugs they were taking. Back then, there were no indicators whatsoever that my life would soon lead to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. And yet, here I am now, happily married and living in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I have to admit; those phrases from the Star-Spangled Banner do suit this great country. The American sense of freedom is unrivaled and it does take a high dose of bravery to continuously lead international operations against the world’s biggest threat of our time: radical-Islamic terrorism.
I believe that it’s a country’s people who make it or break it, and the huge amount of Americans who have literally welcomed me after noticing my accent and asking me where I was from has definitely contributed to me feeling very much at home in the States. Perhaps that explains why the question that was asked last Saturday struck a chord in me and inspired me to write this article.
I can’t think of a better way to start pointing out today’s main challenges for America than with the following prophetic words former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln once spoke:
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Let’s see here. What do ethnic, religious and political polarization, a poorly performing economy and a political correctness resembling characteristics of terrorism have in common in the U.S.? Exactly, none of them were launched to America’s shores by some hostile foreign power. Instead, it seems like Lincoln’s prediction is slowly but surely coming true.
As time goes on, the United States of America seems to only get more and more divided. Skin color apparently determines who you talk to and who you ignore and the same goes for religion and political ideology. Do people truly not realize that rather than with contempt, their differences ought to be approached in a positive manner? That these differences actually form the reason that America became a world power?
Quit the pillarization!
Pillarization is the politico-denominational segregation of a society. Back in the day, I was taught in history class that this phenomenon dominated life in the Netherlands in the first and partially second half of the 20th century. It came down to this: if you were born a Catholic for instance, you went to a Catholic school, bought your bread at a Catholic bakery, listened to the Catholic radio station and only hung out with fellow Catholics. There are many parallels that can be drawn between that era in the Netherlands and contemporary America.
It almost seems to have become a trend to shun people who have backgrounds and viewpoints that differ from your own and make life hell for them as much as possible. Think of it. Atheists throwing tantrums when their Christian neighbors have a statue of the Blessed Mother in their yard and Christians who, in turn, treat anyone who does not believe in Jesus with nothing but utter contempt. Government shutdowns when feuds between Democrats and Republicans in DC come to explode. Ethnic communities turning their backs to each other and speaking in terms of an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. It’s remarkable that many seem to forget one very important thing: that together, they form the people of the United States of America.
If this country truly stands for liberty and justice for all, then it’s about time that everyone starts to live up to that. That means not only claiming your freedoms, but recognizing them for others as well. Needless to say, putting an end to the pillarization of America’s society once and for all is essential in order to accomplish this.
Economy requires drastic policy changs
Though recovering slowly, the U.S. economy still has not reached the point where it once was. Surprising? Not at all. Yes, there are lots of people unemployed and yes, there are plenty of jobs available. But how on earth would someone be able to make ends meet on just 9.50 an hour for a fulltime job? Take a look at the job section of an average newspaper, and no doubt you will find that the vast majority of the wages offered are along the lines of this amount. I would love to see members of Congress try to live on that.
Raising the minimum wage would be one way to go, although I recognize the objections against this idea. Therefore, I would suggest a third way: stimulate businesses to raise the wages of their employees by offering them attractive tax breaks if they do. Not only will this cause the employee’s living standard to go up, but their purchasing power as well. As a result of that, they will spend more, thus generating higher profits for both businesses and the treasury due to sales taxes. And to top the cake with some delicious icing: let’s not forget that the more people have jobs that enable them to make ends meet, the less will be on welfare and the less money the government will have to spend on them.
An economy runs on money that’s being spent. Therefore, it can never run at its full potential if large parts of the population have empty wallets.
Political correctness deserves death sentence
At least as dangerous as radical-Islamic terrorism, political correctness has proven to be an enemy of the U.S. who grows stronger and stronger as time goes on. People with a black skin color are to be referred to as African-Americans (what about people with a dark skin tone from Jamaican or Cuban descent?), the name of the Washington Redskins has become a racial slur, if you didn’t vote for Obama during the last elections, you’re a racist and don’t you dare saying merry Christmas instead of happy holidays during the holiday season.
It may be clear that political correctness is nothing but an instrument used by some to enhance America’s pillarization. Rather than bringing the people from this country together, it only stimulates their division. And if we live in a democratically ruled country, then how is it possible that political correctness rules America with an iron fist while whenever I talk to ten people, at least nine of them agree with me that its tyranny must be put to an end?
Given the fact that political correctness causes nothing but division among Americans and therefore benefits hostile countries, I say the phenomenon is guilty of treason and must be sentenced to death. So let’s no longer speak in terms of ‘white’, ‘black’ or ‘native’ Americans (isn’t just ‘Americans’ enough to encompass everyone?), stop considering the name of a professional football team to be a racial slur, acknowledge that most people who didn’t vote for Obama aren’t racist but didn’t do so because they just happened to like Mitt Romney or someone else better and – for crying out loud! – let’s take the words ‘merry Christmas’ for what they are – a well wishing rather than an insult.
Peroration: make the United States of America truly united
Make no mistake; I’m not turning a blind eye towards the challenges outside the borders of the United States. Questionable countries such as North-Korea and Iran are not to be underestimated or ignored. However, if America wants to keep the ability to deal with any kind of threat from abroad, it will have to make sure first that it does not succumb in its own problems.
So will the flag ever be back up? It all depends, but it’s definitely not impossible. It can be done, provided that the American people, black and white, religious and non-religious, Democrat and Republican, are willing to pull the same chord together in order to make the Stars and Stripes fly high and proudly in the wind once again.
© 2015 Victor Brenntice