A long time ago, a very long time ago when I was younger, I held a passionate belief that I would in my lifetime see the birth of the best that men and women had to offer. I truly believed that Humanity had woke from a deep, dark slumber with a coherent understanding that our destiny as singular inhabitants of this planet was not set in stone, that our future was dependent on our collective actions. I wrongly believed that our actions would construct the foundations of a path toward a new age where wars, poverty, hunger and all the continuing ills of humankind, while not being solved, were being addressed.
The genesis of my beliefs were in the political activism of the Sixties that I witnessed as a young boy, the landing on the moon , our advances in technology , the accountability of Watergate along with an awareness of our environment and corporate responsibility to the public interests. It seemed that humans were banding together and talking about the welfare of the populace as a whole. Our Nation was serving as a global example of what people might and could accomplish. While it is easy to ridicule the Peace, Love and, rebellious atmosphere that existed through a good portion of the Seventies, the larger truth is that we did not live in constant fear, even in light of the cold war.
Fifty years later I find all of us standing on a precipice looking out over a foreboding, nightmarish abyss. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than pointing in the direction of Government and our misaligned politicians, and shouting they are to blame. While they hold their majority of stock in the blame game, the foundation of the path we are on goes back further. We’ve been moving closer toward the edge for several decades and if pressed to identify a certain event or time frame, I could not do so.
Some paradigm shift occurred which spoke to the collective whole and drove home the belief that the individual was paramount, the individual was sacrosanct and responsible for their own financial, social and emotional welfare, even at the expense of the collective good. While I personally adhere to the concept of individuality and responsibility of self, I well understand the need for an inherent understanding of the welfare of others. I simply cannot wrap myself up in my life and ignore the ills of society. I simply cannot blame others and voice that as participation. I cannot advance my personal beliefs and agenda without listening to those who disagree.
I have been married for thirty years. My wife and I are somewhat educated, each having technical degrees. We have worked every single day of our adult lives and raised three sons and are raising another. We have not always made the wisest financial decisions but we’ve always believed our work ethic would see us through. Yet here we are, living from paycheck to paycheck with minimal savings. We both receive an annual 2-3% wage increase which is quickly offset by an annual double digit increase in our health insurance premiums along with ever growing increases for gas, milk, monthly bills and the like. We are not extravagant spenders and live by a defined budget. We are not alone!
We turn to the evening news and see continuing and increasing global unrest. Our military is bogged down in Afghanistan and there are constant rumors of war. Russia is once again giving voice to its power and China lurks quietly as a valid new world superpower, especially in economic terms. Our America dollar buys nothing, our Nation is trillions in debt, and our Government stands divisive and divided without moral or political leadership.
We are far out on the ledge overlooking the abyss of our future, our children’s future. Our individuality which you and I hold dear to our souls and our way of life, will not prevent us from stumbling into a future you and I do not want. It is a future where your individuality will not feed you, will not clothe you, nor cure you of ill health. Indeed, it will not protect you against foreclosure, against those who would assault you or against those who will continue to take what you earn. Our personal individuality will not guarantee a decent, fair, and honest life for our children.
Movement away from the abyss will only arrive with the greatest personal sacrifice each of us can make. The surrender of a good portion of our personal individuality to work toward a common good for all Americans, a return to the principals of Democratic dialog and process. Our Government, our Congress is nothing but a mirror of the American population at any given point in time. We are a divisive, indecisive, and divided population that clings to a false hope that our individual political, moral and religious belief systems will win in the end. Just as we hold no one person accountable, neither do we hold ourselves to a standard of accountability.
A few short years ago, a whisper drifted up from the dark abyss, and to many that soft voice was unintelligible. Today, it is a commanding roar to jump. That voice belongs to an evil greater than you and I could ever imagine, an evil of our own making, of our prejudices, our dark desires and needs, our egos, all those things you and I know we possess but never admit to. If you listen clearly, you’ll hear the laughter in that voice, right before we all jump off.