Sunday, December 6, 2009

Silos, Self-interest and Citizenship

I wrote a letter to leadership and posted it on my facebook page.  The letter was all about asking Congress to slow down, focus on the economy instead of personal projects and do something right instead of fast.  This is a basic request for the citizenry, something that will serve the interest of the nation as a whole, but what happened?

The first real comment was the equivalent of "but what about me?"  Then it got into debates on social issues, a justification of current actions because of what the Republicans did and a total loss of the initial message.  So because Repbulicans weren't great we should sit silently by while the situation gets worse?

A little over a year ago my family and I went through the belongings of my grandmother who had passed away.  One of the things we found were ration booklets from WWII.  I've kept them not just because they were my grandmother's, but because of what they represent about us as a nation.  The nation banded together and everybody sacrificed much in order to battle the enemy and win.

On December 7th 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and more than 3,500 people were killed or injured.  We declared war on Japan and on Germany and finally entered the great war.  The cost in lives and in money was astromical and tragic, but we banded together, set aside our individual agendas and worked together as a nation to win.

On September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacked the world trade center, the Pentagon, and another target that, due to the bravery of average citizens, they failed to hit.  Nearly 3,000 people were killed in this attack and the country banded together in a dedication to fight against Al-Qaeda and stop this from ever happening again.  In WWII we were fighting against the Nazi goal of forcing their ideology on the rest of the world, now we are doing the same against radical Islam.  In WWII we lost 418,000 military personel in the fight and we maintained the will to win.  And we did win.  In the War on Terror we have lost 5,500 and our determination to win waned as soon as the war began.

Although in WWII we stayed dedicated to winning in spite of any personal sacrifices that we had to make, the philosophy now is the opposite.  Though there are many who still believe in a shared sacrifice in order to achieve a common goal, there are many who support the sacrifice of the common goal in order to avoid any personal hardship.  The wars have cost a lot of money which is absolutely true, but should we sacrifice our battle against terror because it's too expensive?  While at the same time passing sweeping legislation that will cost the country trillions and never, ever go away.  At least the wars will end, badly written legislation on government run healthcare will be will us forever. 

This, "give me what I want or I'll take my ball and go home" philosophy is destroying us from within.  Is radical Islam getting what they want by our refusal to band together and fight?  Are they glorying in the idea that they have divided us and now we're ripe for conquering?  Do they use our obsessive need to push our own personal agenda in the face of broader, more wide sweeping issues as proof of what is wrong with western civilization?

We may all have different ideas on how to make things better, but we should all be looking at the big picture instead of focusing on our own small piece of it.  We should disagree and discuss, but we shouldn't be telling the other side, "you lost so sit down and shut the hell up."  We should look at what is happening now and analyze it based on what is happening now instead of justifying a new bad policy because we think somebody else wrote a worse one.  In other words, we need to stop behaving like bickering children and start banding together to save the country from economic collapse and bankruptcy. 

But then again, I can see why your personal issue may be far more important that the safety and economic stability of the nation as a whole.  That whole United we stand divided we fall slogan is probably just propoganda anyway.


  1. Once we ended the draft, many of us decided that they no longer had a 'dog in the fight' and that our national defense is just a given, to be assumed forever.

  2. But of course not worth paying for.