I'd like to get the year started off on the right foot. So, first of all, I’m asking all my readers to join with me in accepting the fact that it took many years for our country to get in the mess that it’s in and it’s going to take many years for us to get out of it. If we need somebody to blame for letting it happen, then we can point the finger at ourselves, because the Founding Fathers created this nation to be governed by “we the people.”
We the people allowed the capitalists to run unrestricted under the doctrine of free enterprise, without demanding they be responsible for the well-being of our economic system. We the people gave them enough rope not only to hang themselves but to put the rope around our necks as well. Did they put a gun to our heads? No. We the people elected those who wore the right political label to watch the rich guys and those politicians assisted them in stripping the country down and selling it for a penny on the dollar. (Now we can lie to ourselves about what happened, but don’t you think we ought to tell the children the truth about who really sold off their future?)
All of our problems have a genesis and a history. They didn’t just appear out of nowhere, take root in our energy policy, our health care system, our social system, our justice system, our immigration policy or any other place in our country’s system of governance.
Crimes of violence didn’t suddenly crop up. Illegal drugs have been an issue for years. Instead of disappearing with the Mafia, the problem has simply grown. If several generations of parents had dealt with doing away with these drugs, then children today would not need to say "no" to the drug dealers. There is just no way of getting around it; we are the culprits. We let it happen.
Of course, there will always be those who reason that we created our system of justice and delegated that responsibility so that we would not have to do that job personally. Well, have we held them accountable and demanded that they show us the proof of their efforts to solve this problem? Or do we just go whining about one branch of government or the other about all they didn’t do?
Whose job was that to make them accountable? Where does that buck really stop?
So what about the overflowing population of children in foster care? We moved in immediately to tell government to stay out of our personal lives, and in this case they were accountable and placed no responsibility on parents for raising the children they brought into the world. So, many of these parents simply neglected or abandoned their children and ushered in a generation of “throw-away kids.” Who must care for them? Why, the same government we told not to interfere in the private lives of these parents. And who is this government? We the people, of course. Remember the truant officers whose responsibility it was to see that parents sent their children to school? Well, that was before we the people lost our sense of collective responsibility and understood that seeing to the welfare of the children was one of the elements of running a civilized democracy.
I suspect, as we run all over the world bragging about our freedoms, some other countries who have a lot more restrictions on the behavior of their citizenry, probably slyly smirk behind our backs as they look at our violent crime rate. Freedom to do what, they might ask? Kill each other?
Americans, by and large, are reasonable people. They know this democratic republic is not working the way it should be. By every measure we should be first to demonstrate to the world the working model of a true democracy. Instead we come limping behind so many countries in the area of literacy, health care and regard for the sanctity of human life.
As we commence the second decade of this new century, could we begin as neighbors to confront each other with the truth of our failure to keep the basic tenets of our democracy and promise each other as we move forward to seek out opportunities where we can work together to clean up our mess?
I sincerely hope this will be the best year of our lives.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.