"...Shall Not Perish From This Earth."

It has been a tough news weekend for the United States.

I've been blocking out news coverage today and cringing every time I hear a partisan or pundit prognosticate about the decline of America, or our supposed shuffle closer to doomsday.

My heart breaks hard every time I think about the selfless men and women we lost in Afghanistan this weekend. Brothers and sisters alike, it seems almost trivial to sit here tonight and type--a freedom they have won for me--while so many are facing grim realities and long, tense moments of combat half a world away.

It's easy to lose focus of who you are and what you stand for in times like these.

Tonight, I'm reminded of a famous speech given by a wartime American president from Illinois (emphasis added):

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

It is easy to cower in the face of disappointment or unspeakable tragedy, to cave to the demands of those playing the temporary game of political opportunism. In these times, we should not forget who we are:

We believe "that government of the people, by the people, for the people" shall reflect the values and humanity of those people. We believe that our markets and our people come together every day, and that their tenacity and innovation are our greatest national assets. Government can't solve all of our problems, and neither can unchecked greed: We believe that both free markets and free people are essential for a free country and a prosperous posterity. And we are reminded that our young men and women shouldn't have to die to prove their country's greatness, but rather, should serve as living proof.

Military might is not the only measure of national strength; private doubts about our financial acuity do not change the reality of our economic strength. The media and Super PACs may reap a windfall from tripping up the United States of America--that's their freedom, in this country we call home.

You cannot quantify, cannot put a premium on the resilience, the grittiness, the resolve of the American people. Whether we're facing down the British redcoats or the regulars of financial speculation, our country sets a consistent standard: triumph. That's something even opinionated talking-heads can't thwart.

You cannot keep us down. You cannot convince us that our lot is anything less than exceptional. It is a birthright we will give to our children and innumerable generations beyond.

This country and her ideals shall never perish from this earth.

We are so resolved.

(Cross-posted from The Journeying Progressive. Join The Journeying Progressive for long runs, legendary musings and an insatiable quest for knowledge.)


I'm not so sure

Most of us want to think that the arc of history bends toward justice. These days I'm not so sure, unless we define "justice" to include bad actors getting their just rewards. In which case, Mother Nature seems well on her way to wiping us off the face of the earth. Reset is coming, sooner or later.

As a race, I believe we are bad actors incarnate. Greed, gluttony, hypocrisy, exploitation, discrimination, you name it ... humans have abused every trust at every turn. The recent tea bagger tantrum is no more or less destructive than any other tantrum we've thrown. The world wars, the terrorism, the selfishness, the rape of the environment, and worse. As a race, we do not have the intelligence or demeanor to govern with grace and effectiveness.

With our country is failing at all levels, the current response is to throw a hail Mary in the direction of free markets, hoping that for the first time in human history, that mechanism will deliver us from evil. There is no hope of that happening: the free market is inherently evil itself. It is built on a foundation of competition in which losers are, well, losers.

Lastly, the hope that some version of Rick Perry's god will step into the breach is equally ludicrous. The history the Christian god is the history of wretched violence, abuse of women, hypocrisy, and delusion. Counting on a magic man in the skies to set things right, if only we pray hard enough, will get us exactly what it has always gotten us: a country where zealotry and intolerance rules the day.

Armaggedon much?

I appreciate your views and your comments.

When I talk about "free markets," I'm not talking about the kind of unregulated ones that got us into this mess. Free markets are made possible by an active, responsible public--not the already-wealthy.

Mocking the faith of others is also probably not the best way to see us through...whatever "this" is. People will rely on whatever mechanisms they feel comfortable with; despite however valid you may feel your claims are against those beliefs, that will only further serve to enrage the very citizenry we should be trying to responsibly unite.

I think it's simply too easy to sit here and say "things are too hard," rather than saying that we're committed to the long term, hard-knock work of public service that will be required this century.

Join The Journeying Progressive for long runs, legendary musings and an insatiable quest for knowledge.

I'm an old fart and I think you're sorta Pollyanna-ish.

I'm happy you're upbeat and see the path to equality and justice and have faith. Some of us used to be like you.
I don't know whether we're grayer and wiser or just grayer...or bald...but you're putting a lot of faith in a population that has proven time and time again that:

1. they're too busy living their lives to pay attention.
2. they'll give you lip service as long as you don't gore their Ox...like, oh, suggesting that war is a misery that ought to be equally shared, so let's re-institute the draft. "Horrors...I just want to tie yellow ribbons to trees and pray about it...my Johnny couldn't possibly go to war"
3. The rich....What?....tax MY capital gains? Eeeeek!
4. The rich...What...take the second home mortgage interest deduction away? What about my yacht?
and so on....

You sound as if you think other's don't understand...and that you're the beacon of principled resistance.
I daresay James has done more in that regard than you'll ever achieve. But go for it....

Stan Bozarth

Arm a whatever

I wish I had the America Exceptionalism gene, but alas, I lean hard in the other direction.

We are in the midst of a Christianist and corporatist takeover in North Carolina, and maybe the whole country, with redistricting and Citizens United combining to rig our electoral system for the next decade, or longer. Why should we stand for the laws of our land being created in "His" image? It is a violation of our Constitution.

Trying to responsibly unite with the people driving the Christianist agenda is capitulation, pure and simple. It is the very same strategy that produced the Great Debt Ceiling Diversion, the escalating war on drugs, the growing exploitation of the Arctic, and, closer to home, the Women Are Too Stupid To Take Care of Their Bodies Act. America exceptionalism indeed.

I'm not worrying about further enraging anyone on the right. I want them to be worrying about enraging us.