Imagine, after years of amnesia, a hypothetical American awakes. He would be as mystified as a time traveler, unclear why what was right is so wrong. Why are we not defending America?
In 2004, he recalls race relations were good, today they are appalling. That year, 74 percent of whites, 68 percent of Blacks thought relations were either very good or somewhat good. Today, the numbers are 43 and 33. Where two-thirds of Blacks and three-quarters of Whites were content in 2004, two-thirds of Blacks and six in ten Whites now are not. What happened?
He sees drug overdoses topping 100,000 last year. In 2004, they were a fraction, 1,664 synthetic opioid deaths, 1,878 from heroin. By contrast, in 2019, synthetic opioids – like fentanyl – killed over 36,000, heroin over 14,000, and in 2021, even more.
He spins to see an unaccountable government pushing up inflation – bell weather of economic health. It is 6.2 percent, but in 2004 it was 2.6 percent. Inversion of numbers, he glances back to 2019 – before something called a “pandemic” – and it was lower still. Why so high today?
As if these three top-shelf indicators of regression were not enough, he sees them labeled “progression,” the platform of “progressives,” who have now progressed to control of the Democratic Party. They push race and class conflict, drug legalization, open borders, no deterrence of crime via police, and massive spending, taxes, and concentrated power.
The wider he looks, the more mystified he gets. A man just weaponized a car to kill children in a Christmas parade, disparaged a president, celebrated racism, violence, and class division, and it is a “crash.”
Meantime, parents who resist racism in schools, oppose class warfare and imposing ideology on impressionable children, defend history, books, girls’ sports, safe bathrooms, free speech, untrammeled faith, and our nation’s founders – are “domestic terrorists.”
He sees the average person spending $7,470 for individual health insurance, $21,342 for a family. The individual rate was $3,695 for an individual, $9,950 for a family in 2004.
In 15 years, with lots of talk about lowering premiums, something called Affordable Health Care produced less coverage, higher deductibles, reduced quality, and the price of care has doubled.
He notices other changes. People seem to push information, no check on accuracy, disinterested in thought, anonymously, anxiously, angrily through busy fingers. They do not smile much, look up much, care much about listening, driving, etiquette, wanting an answer, even courtesy.
He notices people are quicker to judge, snap, overtalk, cut off, demand, and accuse, less interested in waiting, listening, deferring, accommodating – as if needing the last word first.
Hysteria abounds, excess emotion, irrationality, fear, indifference, and indolence – on everything from work to worried weather, understanding history, biology, and life’s mysteries to God. What people cannot beat or become, they disparage; what they cannot comprehend, they condemn.
He notices simple things, thin skins, no tolerance for correction, high levels of insecurity, alienation, moral and mental stagnation. He sees everyone hurrying to nowhere special.
He wonders how many serve the country in uniform, how many are veterans, how many young people walk military cemeteries, pledges the flag each morning – as he did. He wonders who teaches honor, service, self-sacrifice, appreciation for those who died, making it possible today.
He notes the nation that landed men on the moon, dropped the Shuttle, sends people to near-earth orbit, but is slow-rolling moon and mars missions, ready to punt the universe to China.
He marvels that a nation that fought so hard for freedom can misunderstand its sanctity; a nation that ended one communist nightmare indulges a second; a nation that brought the murderous Soviet regime to its knees is advancing the Communist Chinese.
This poor fellow, as he looks around, realizes the more he sees, the less he likes it. In a generation’s time, the world has lost reason and rhyme. Progressive is regressive, “slavery freedom,” and words have begun to lose meaning.
Longing for amnesia, another thought appears, how history cycles, recycles, re-ups, re-boots, and how free people, with right grounding, facts, fortitude, identify good leaders, recall freedom’s cost, and rise to put right a wrong-headed government and misguided culture.
Someone named Lincoln, he recalls, said: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is … real facts.”
Someone named Truman ended WWII, noting: “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
Someone named Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
And Reagan reminded us that the miracle is not government – but ourselves, free individuals. “We cannot help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
Living to see America silence fascism then communism, Reagan gave the truism: “Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.”
They did not have it then; they do not have it now. We did have it then; we do have it now. Our job –those waking and those who never slept – is to recall the timeless value of freedom and the fight for it. Reagan was right: Free people have a power without equal. We must remember.
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