A letter to the young American
I am 26 years old, an American citizen, and I am fearful for the future of my country. Allow me to explain.
I would be foolish to say I understand all of the minute details of the current healthcare bill awaiting passage in our Congress. It would be foolish to say I fully understand all of the moving parts necessary to get our economy back on track. It would be foolish to say I fully understand what President Obama has planned for our country.
However, I am not foolish. I am paying attention. Unlike any generation before, young Americans are paying attention. We cannot ignore the state of our present any longer. We are concerned for the future of America, but many of us see the future quite differently. We wonder how our generation’s respective “American Dream” will play itself out.
I graduated from high school after the “Dot-Com Bubble” had burst. President George W. Bush had been in office for little more than four months when I wore my first cap and gown. I wore what was likely my final cap and gown last May, and President Obama had been in office a mere four months. Each of these men spent their first year in office under extreme scrutiny, one enduring a serious terrorism attack from abroad, the other taking office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in decades.
These men were met with extraordinary challenges. However, the challenge facing America today is more than an economic downturn or the rising price of gasoline. It is more than terrorist threats or depleted retirement accounts. It is a problem of understanding. It is a problem of history. Edmund Burke, the British philosopher said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Not only are we uneducated in our own history, but we have learned nothing from others that have gone before us. We have the information at our fingertips, and we choose to ignore it. Americans are frightened, there is no question. We are concerned about where we will work and how we will pay our bills. We wonder how we will provide coverage for our families’ health needs. We are burdened with debt, both personally and as a Nation.
We are searching for answers, but we are looking in the wrong place. Government involvement is seldom the answer, and certainly not in this instance. Waste and is their modus operandi. We have seen where these choices will lead. We know what happens when nations not only allow but encourage their governments to take more control of their lives, when they allow government to dictate freedoms, when they expect their government to provide for them. These lessons are readily available to us, yet we ignore them.
The reasons are simple: dependence is easy, independence is hard. Apathy is easy, interest is hard. Lethargy is easy, vitality is hard. Indifference is easy, involvement is hard. My generation claims interest and independence, vitality and involvement. However, at best we are misguided and misled.
Independence is not the option to refuse our own liberties, but the task of remaining free to choose for ourselves. Interest is not watching “The Daily Show” or FoxNews, it is educating ourselves in the matters of our country. Vitality is not a bumper sticker of support, it is living and breathing our freedoms. Involvement is not pushing a button in the voting booth and checking back in four years later, it is a continuous study of the current state of affairs.
We are in this position because we have allowed it. Governments do not accumulate trillions in debt overnight. Households do not find themselves facing foreclosure overnight. This process began long ago, but that matters little to me. My generation will have no one to blame but ourselves if we continue our descent into dependence. The choice is ours to make. I fear some have already made their decision, and there will be no correcting it in the end. If Americans choose dependence over independence, it will take a literal revolution to return to independence.