Learning to get Involved
by "Time and Circumstance"
We all know what the words mean: a government that serves at the
pleasure of the citizens of that particular Country. A very simple concept made
all the more special because it was a form of government that was virtually
unheard of when our forefathers banded together and shed blood in support of
this noble experiment that we call America. Nobility of intentions, however,
does not imply perfection. Our history is filled with episodes that would better
be forgotten. But forgetting is not learning and some of the most important
lessons to be learned are to be found in our failures. Furthermore, learning is
of little consequence if we fail to implement - to put into action - those
lessons that we have learned.
Right now, this Nation is in the midst of a quiet upheaval. If you haven’t paid close attention you may be yet unaware of the great changes that are happening in this Country that will have lasting effects, for ourselves and the World, for years to come. There was, and continues to be, a concerted effort by the most extreme elements of the political establishment to subjugate our established form of Representative Government to the wants of the few. Over the years they have found that the best way to attack our present system is to embrace it closely and make it their own; the better to destroy it from within. They have harnessed the power of words to mask their true intentions. In their world compassion means to withhold from those in need; conservatism means a large and omnipresent government which insinuates itself into every facet of our lives; and patriotism means exploiting the sacrifices made by others. In their world government stands not accountable to its citizens but expectant of their silent support of decisions made behind closed doors. A Government built upon the unquestioning faith of its citizens is not Government at all; it is Religion. The separation of Church and State was explicitly ordered by our Founding Fathers, so one could hardly expect a Constitution that supports the State as Religion. But, in essence, that is precisely what this present administration expects of us.
A look back…
The men who created this great Nation were not fools; they were men of great knowledge and learning. They also were not common men, but men of vision who saw the World in ways that few before them had ever done. These qualities allowed them to create a system of government that stood unique in the world of their time. But they also were victims of a corrupt governmental system, Imperial Britain, which forced them to revolt against its oppression at the cost of many of their lives. Being newly freed from the grip of autocratic excess, our Founding Fathers remained cautious of the power that government could come to wield over the lives of ordinary men. Seeking a better way, they strived to create a government which served the people rather than one which devoured them. To this end was a tripartite government of discrete functions and equal power created. A truly wondrous system of checks and balances came into being to prevent the kind of concentrated power in the hands of the privileged few which had caused our ancestors such misery. Representative Government: a wondrous system indeed…
To the present…
Why would we be willing, as citizens of this great Nation, to give it all back? Why have we allowed a Government of the People to become a Government for the Few? For most of us in our everyday lives, we seek to have a reasonable amount of control over the things that affect us. That is ingrained in our being; that need to exert a sense of order in a chaotic world. Somehow we have lost sight of the tremendous amount of influence government exerts upon our everyday lives. To most of us Washington seems so far away; a place that one can only reach by watching the television news. A place where complex worldwide decisions are made by men of great knowledge; thankfully saving the rest of us the effort. That is where we are wrong. Washington is everywhere: it is at the pharmacy where old men and old women cannot afford to pay for the medicines they need to live; it is at the school where students are packed into classrooms designed for half their numbers; it is in the “enterprise zones” of other Nations which use near-slave labor to make the products that we consume. Washington can also be found in the backroom deals and quid pro quos of what has come to be called Free Trade. For those who watch, in dismay, chaotic images of news of the World; who wonder why a Country could allows its economy to falter to the brink of collapse; who wonder “where did all those people come from” who riot in the streets in some foreign land; who wonder “why do they hate America so much?” as our flag is burned and stomped…there is a little bit of Washington to be found there as well.
Please, don’t misunderstand: I love my Country. I love it with the open eyes of a long and deep and genuine relationship, not with the closed eyes of a shallow lusting for an idealized America that never existed. I won’t turn my back upon this Country even when its actions shame me, for it is a part of me as I am one part of it. All of us, together, comprise America; as well as the land which shapes us and our Government which - for good or ill - projects our values around the globe.
America’s global image: is it what we are, or something else? Does this Nation’s values really represent the values of its people? The answers to these questions cannot be given to you; you must find them for yourselves. For those of you who vote: look deeper, find out more. There is never too much knowledge. The more we understand our Nation and the World, the better our decisions will be in confronting those challenges that life places before us. For those of you who do not vote: ask yourselves if this is the World that you wish to live in. If the answer is affirmative, then I wish you well and envy your good fortune; but if the answer is negative then that dissatisfaction becomes the catalyst for change. Education encourages wise decisions. Wise decisions demand proper action. Learn…To Get Involved.