Crumbling Foundation

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said on one of those Sunday talking programs recently (paraphrasing) the United States is becoming more fractured day by day, something we, too, have been blogging about for some time.

McChrystal also said (again paraphrasing) he believes in some kind of national service for young adults, not necessarily military, and that young people today have no real understanding of the foundation of America with which to form an idea of patriotism.

I completely agree with his meaning.

While I served only an eight-year stint in the U. S. Army Reserves–including six months ADT, two weeks concentrated training each year, and drills every other week–it was enough to give me competence as part of a united killing unit (after all, that is what the military does, fight to obliterate a foe), but I learned discipline and a semblance of patriotic pride to boot. The military was also responsible for much of my after high school advanced education as well.

So, when McChrystal says he favors some kind of service for all young adults at some point before beginning a private career, I’m on board. Perhaps we would regain some of the nationalistic pride in the United States we lost so long ago.

A few years ago, as a parent citizen representative in the 1980’s, I observed a high school Social Studies class for a few days. I was appalled the instructor spent more time degrading Southern members of the Founding Fathers for slave ownership that he did describing their contributions to advancing freedom and separation from Great Britain. I was also disturbed he spent a great deal of time outlining the personal life errors colonists may have made rather than discussing their written words in support of unity and liberty.

Which is more important: That I know you cheated on your wife 20 years ago, or, that you single handedly brought 5 murderers to justice last week? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Voltaire said: “History is the recital of facts given as true, in contradistinction to the fable, which is the recital of facts given as false. There is the history of opinions which is hardly anything but a collection of human errors.”

The kinds of educational topics I’ve described above continue today with even less emphasis on Colonial and American History than before. No wonder our country is fractured.The monstrous funding provided to educate our children seems to be wasted on the frivolous.

“Me, first.” “I want it, and I want it now.”

McChrystal is quite correct. This country is fractured in far too many ways. We are male, female, liberal, conservative, black, white, hispanic, asian, veteran, Republican, Democrat, lobbyist, bureaucrat, and we are members of organizations of every stripe, kind and character. It seems to me we have digressed into  groups unwilling to sit down first as Americans for a quiet discussion and exchange of ideas before first choosing up sides much as a playground full of elementary children. The first response to the question, “Who are you?”, should be, “I’m an American.”

The United States Constitution has become a document to be used only when an Amendment, section or paragraph suits our selfish purposes. How can we make judgements about the future when we know so little about the past making of this nation?

How can there be a national discussion about the future when so many educators and their students know so little about the founding of the United States or seem to abhor this nation’s heritage?

I believe Americans should be Americans first, last and always. Divisions among us are unhealthy, and there is ample proof such polarization is destroying everything that was right about the United States as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

Greed, selfishness and hate now seem to abide in all of us.

“Rule a state as you rule a family; one can only govern one’s family well by setting the example.” — Voltaire

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