Thursday, November 24, 2016
An end to the whining. . .
Yes, it is true that the American dream has only been briefly touched by most Americans. We are not a perfectly egalitarian society and our equal freedom has not dispense equal riches, status, or reward. It has always been that hard working and honest folk do not necessarily prosper and that scoundrels seem to know how to take advantage of every right to promote wrong. Yet underneath it all we are heirs of a great experiment of freedom in which we choose our leaders and take personal responsibility for what our nation becomes. Underneath all the exceptional wrongs and faults that betray the American dream, there is the sober truth of a nation in which our access to the marketplace and to success is much more equal than anywhere else. Underneath all our failings and problems, there is the reality of a nation in which freedom has given birth to invention, driven the economic engine for all classes, and provided opportunity for hard work, education, initiative, and a little luck to provide a good and decent life, free from the constraints of government and external threat.
Yes, slavery is an American shame but surely American virtue was in part vindicated by the millions whose blood was spilt to right that wrong. Those who claim that racism still lives here are surely correct but they miss the bigger picture. Ours is a land in which race, ethnicity, and class do not automatically disqualify anyone from political ambition, industrial success, or financial reward.
Yes, the inequities of pay for men and women, young and old, employers and employees remain a problem but at the same time we have more invested wealth across the spectrum of individual and families than ever before and it came without Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. A rising tide lifts all boats and our American history has proven that -- even when, like now, it seems the middle class is being squeezed more than ever before.
Yes, our political system produced two candidates for President that made most of us wince in the ballot box but it is the same political system that produced heroic figures who radically changed our country for good (like Abraham Lincoln elected with less than 40% of the popular vote). We get the political leaders we deserve since we are the ones who vet them and then elect one from among the rest left standing.
We have become a nation of whiners that our forefathers would not recognize. From a civilian army that cast off the constraints of colonialism to the industry that produced the ships, tanks, aircraft, and arsenal that won World War II, we have proven that we can do it. What might happen today if we spent less time complaining, less energy whining, less attention to perceived personal slights, and went to work on the problems than remain? I believe that we are squandering the moment by giving the spotlight to the small wrongs that remain instead of giving thanks for the great accomplishments that have brought us to this day, the rich blessing of God that remains underappreciated, and the commitment to personal responsibility that seems just plain old fashioned.
It is Thanksgiving Day. Stop the whining, give up complaining, and don't be a victim today (at least). Sit down with family and friends and perhaps a stranger or two. Eat and give thank to the God whose mercies are new every morning and beyond measure to our nation and people. Speak in positive terms of what we have been given, the pause to give thanks, and what we can do to pass on an improved nation to our children and grandchildren. Think what we just might accomplish if we spent half the energy wasted self-serving words and put them into neighbor serving works!
I know America is not perfect. I know that there are great tests before us and great problems to solve. I know that there are people suffering. But every day I am confronted with so much to be thankful for and the rich privilege of living as a citizen of this land is near the top of that list. I am the product of a middle class family who valued hard work, who sought to be honest and do good, and who went to church on Sunday morning. This is the freedom that they cherished. Look around you. You have something to cherish as well. Take a day, Thanksgiving Day, to do a little more cherishing and a little less whining, complaining, and groaning.