The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

I remember as a child, going with my parents to Washington to spend some time with my dad’s brother and his wife.  We made the trip by car and, like all children my age, I probably annoyed my parents by incessantly asking, “Are we there yet?”

Well finally we got there.  Or mostly so.  That is to say, we were in our nation’s Capitol – a city which, for the uninitiated, has to be one of the most confusing places on earth.

I have heard that the city’s circular design was, in part, intended as a matter of defense.  I would advise any foreign entity with aspirations of attacking
Washington by land that they had best bone up on the city’s layout before attempting their assault.

If there were one thing that I remember keenly about my father, it was that he had the most amazingly accurate sense of direction of anyone I have ever known.  Knowing where he was and understanding how to get where he was going was completely natural to him.  He had a built-in GPS system which was more accurate than the ones on which we rely today.

But apparently, there was something in the air in Washington which interfered with that ability.

My Uncle Howard, who at the time was an Assistant Director in the General Services Administration, the Federal agency which purchases most of the goods and services the government buys, had given my father directions on how, once we entered the city, we should proceed to get to his office.  Dad had pulled out the slip of paper on which he had written down these directions and was trying to follow them.

I don’t know if the instructions my Uncle Howard had given dad were inaccurate but we drove as my uncle had instructed and for some reason found ourselves back at our starting point, having looped around the city.  So dad tried again – with the same result.

Frustrated at his inability to do anything other than drive in circles, my father looked for a pay phone on the street so that he could call his brother at his office.  We finally found one and dad spoke with him.

I think my uncle must have sensed the aggravation in his older brother’s voice because he asked where we were, told us to sit tight and drove over to get us.  Apparently we had made a wrong turn somewhere and as my uncle explained, “You can’t get there from here.”

As it was now quitting time for my uncle, rather than going to his office we followed him to his home in Bethesda, MD.  To this day I don’t know for sure that there is a GSA building as I’ve never seen it.

We had a wonderful stay.  It is hard to visit Washington without coming away with a great sense of pride in what the American experiment had accomplished.

The buildings were more than mere structures.  They were shrines to the people who had worked together to show the world what could be accomplished by a rag tag volunteer army who fought and overcame what was then the mightiest fighting force in the world.  And all because of their desire to be free of oppression and to craft their own destiny.

I was especially privileged because my Aunt Rose was the secretary to the Director of the National Archives.  She received permission from her boss to bring me down to the Archives’ vaults where I was allowed to view documents that had been signed by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

If you have seen Frank Capra’s movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” you will have a sense of the pride I felt viewing these – in much the same way that Jimmy Stewart was overwhelmed when he saw the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials when he first arrived in the city as a newly appointed senator.

And you will understand how, when he is falsely accused of attempting personal gain by a corrupt colleague and the attempt is made to expel him from the Senate, this naïve, idealistic man retreats to Abe Lincoln’s feet at the base of his memorial and weeps bitter tears, so disillusioned by the government in which he believed and the reality that he discovered.

Perhaps I also am too idealistic.  After volunteering in the political process for several decades it is difficult to hold on to that attitude.  Like Senator Smith, I have learned the reality that people in public office are far more likely to be concerned about their personal interests than the interests of those whom they were elected to serve.  Maybe that is just human nature – or at least the nature of many who choose to run for public office.

Unlike Senator Smith, I cannot shed my tears at Lincoln’s feet.  The next best thing that I can do is watch this outstanding movie and write this blog, hoping to reach at least a few other people who care about what is happening in the land.

This country was founded by people who were great thinkers and its existence was secured by people who were great doers.  It was that combination which made America great – and it is the absence of it which is the reason that we have stumbled, and stumbled badly.

If we want the prosperity and the promise to return to this land, we have to make a change both to our political leadership and to our own apathetic attitudes.  We have once again to begin doing – and we need to elect people who are common sense thinkers.

There is one thing that is certain to me.  With the current cast of characters running the show and most of the people who are sitting in the audience, we can’t get there from here.

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Comments on: "WE CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE" (8)

  1. I enjoyed the entire journey only to reallize at the end, that we can’t get there from here! 🙂
    You made good use of illuminating illustrations to drive your points home. The path we seem to be taking can’t get us to the heights we desire. Change is crucial for the change we need. The best way to change is to change! Lovely post! 🙂

  2. I like the way this is stated. True we need politicians who are up to the job and not out to line their own pockets at our expense, however we are the ones who elect them, and it they are not up to the mark I suppose the electors have to take the blame for putting them there.

    • The adage, “Fool me once – shame on you; fool me twice – shame on me” comes to mind. It amazes me that people mindlessly keep re-electing the same people who have consistently failed them.

  3. Excellent article. It is both honest and a good assessment of where we are and how we got here.

    Our founders were wise enough to recognize the pitfalls of political power and left us many warnings along with their reminder that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    Power will always belong to the people so long as they have the courage to participate and to seize it and the wisdom to understand that “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” How many times do we circle the object of our dreams before we commit to seizing our manifest destiny to help establish and support liberty on a global scale?

    Changing course is a difficult task and the ship of state is the most difficult to steer out of the sea of the status quo. Apathy and blind faith are rudders set for the rocks. Principle and a faithfulness to the supremacy of the individual’s natural rights are the rudders that drive the endangered and the impoverished to accomplish great things and in the course of living productive lives, to build or restore, as a consequence, a great nation.

    America needs to wake up and face facts. Americans need to stand up and put their hands to work instead of opening them to accept just enough to keep them alive and comfortably enslaved. Be it packed into a small space aboard ship or sprawled out on the couch, there is no dignity in servitude. The true source of dignity rests in the mind that is free to make choices and exercise free will.

    Thanks for this most inspiring post, juannadoright.

  4. Nice welcome home – have really missed your posts! 🙂

    “…I have learned the reality that people in public office are far more likely to be concerned about their personal interests than the interests of those whom they were elected to serve.”

    And therein lies the problem which, I believe you are correct in pointing out, has to do with both “our political leadership” & “our own apathetic attitudes.” Because we elect these representatives who, in fact, represent their own special interests rather than ours – in spite of campaign lies represented as “promises.” We elect these narcissists based on the most prevalent news sound bites because we are too “apathetic” to dig deeper in order to get to the truth behind each candidate’s “promises.” We don’t dig into the history of their political careers to ascertain whether their current campaign rhetoric matches their past actions in office. We know little to nothing about their actual track record in office, save for what they choose to highlight or suppress, knowing full well we won’t check it out. No, we rely instead on our biased news media, which caters to its own special interests, and its headlines, soundbites, and Hollywood gladiator-style debates geared toward grabbing ratings rather than providing anything of substance.

    In this, then, we get what we deserve.

    And you are right: “If we want the prosperity and the promise to return to this land, we have to make a change both to our political leadership and to our own apathetic attitudes.” Amen!

    • I’ve always been an afficiando of sci-fi stories and horror movies as well. I must admit, however, that when it comes to zombie flicks, they hold no interest for me. I’ve often wondered at their popularity.

      But as I thought about your response, I realized that we like to see movies to which we can relate. Perhaps that’s the reason that a zombie population keeps electing the same old political hacks, election after election. And the sad thing is that I don’t believe any scientists are working on ways to bring the undead back to life.

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