Our nation has many deficits. It is unfortunate, but also, able to be rectified.
In a key note address to our nation, February 7, 2013 Dr. Benjamin Carson spoke of possible solutions to very hard questions. The Wall Street Journal presented an article claiming “The Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon may not be politically correct, but he's closer to correct than we've heard in years. “
Dr. Carson brought to the podium a remembrance of basic principles this nation was founded upon in the 1800’s; and with it a warning.
Most of us will identify with the statement: 'History repeats itself.'
History repeating itself is easy enough to accept. We see the evidence of this statement become evident over the course of our lives. That said, take a look at how history has been written for other ‘world powers’ much like the United States:
“…we don’t want to go down the same pathway as other pinnacle nations that have preceded us. I think particularly about ancient Rome very powerful, nobody could even challenge them militarily, but what happened to them ….they destroyed themselves from within; moral decay fiscal irresponsibility they destroyed themselves. “ Dr. Carson went on to state, “And if you don’t think that can happen to America you get out your books and you start reading. But you know we can fix it. Why do I think we can fix it? Because we have some of the most intellectually gifted people leading our nation; all we need to do is remember what our real responsibilities are so we can solve the problem.”
Keith Hopkins of History.com shares the obsession of Rome, “Indeed, the growth in the splendor of gladiatorial shows was largely fueled by competition between ambitious aristocrats, who wished to please, excite and increase the number of their supporters.”
“In 42 BC,” K. Hopkins continued, “ for the first time, gladiatorial fights were substituted for chariot-races in official games. After that in the city of Rome, regular gladiatorial shows, like theatrical shows and chariot-races, were given by officers of state, as part of their official careers, as an official obligation and as a tax on status.
Under the emperors, aristocrats were still competing with each other, in prestige and political success. The splendor of a senator's public exhibition could make or break his social and political reputation.”
Along with their grandiose games, Rome became a nation of lotteries battling and consequently failing in its obsession with gambling. Sound familiar?
So what do we do about these obsessions in our own culture?
Most major life changes are not done in moderation. It takes what some have adopted as saying “a jackpot”; before the pain of a habit, becomes too great. Our bodies make use of the ‘fight or flight response’ and the energy or anger it unleashes, becomes the catalyst to make a life change. Is our nation in enough pain yet?
“Gladiators were glamour figures, culture heroes. The probable life-span of each gladiator was short. Each successive victory brought further risk of defeat and death. But for the moment, we are more concerned with image than with reality. Modern pop-stars and athletes have only a short exposure to full-glare publicity. Most of them fade rapidly from being household names into obscurity, fossilized in the memory of each generation of adolescent enthusiasts. The transience of the fame of each does not diminish their collective importance.” K. Hopkins
It is something to consider, is it not? America’s preoccupation with sports and famous actors/actresses lives?
Where else would our focus be if we did not obsess in this manner?
There would be many ways to continue to show within history how this nation could continue to fall. The point is to use these examples as awareness, to bring to our society a gradual change of focus. Dr. Carson discussed the importance of trading who’s right and who’s wrong, for the patience to listen; agreeing to disagree in such a way as to pay attention to the concerns of your neighbor. With awareness and intelligent conversation comes change:
“I think the other thing that threatens the prosperity and the vitality of our nation is political correctness. Many people came to this nation, and they were trying to escape from societies that try to tell them what they could say and what they could think. And here we come, reintroducing it through the back door.” B. Carson “And we need to remember that it is not important that we all think the same thing. The emphasis should not be on us saying the same thing; the emphasis should be on us learning to be respectful of individuals who have a different opinion. That’s one of the things that made America great: the ability to engage in dialogue.
Dr. Carson continued in his speech to the nation, “And I’ve always said, “If two people think the same thing about everything, one of them isn’t necessary.” We need to be able to understand that if we’re going to make real progress.”
“There was a time in the history of the world when there was great intolerance for anybody who thought differently than the mainstream…if we all engage in appropriate intellectual discussion, I think we will get there much faster."
Changes may not happen over-night, or do they?
200 years ago this nation was involved in a war….the war of 1812…the British were marching up that seaboard destroying city after city…burned down the white house…next stop Baltimore, an armada of ships as far as the eye could see….Fort McHenry Major Armistead commissioned a large American flag to fly in front of the fort. Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane in charge of the fleet was offended, “You have until dusk. If you don’t take it (the flag) down we will reduce you to ashes.” This is our history.
“If you had gone to onto the grounds of Fort McHenry that day, you would have seen at the base of that flag the bodies of soldiers who took turns propping up that flag, they would not let that flag go down because they believed in what the flag symbolized…and what did that flag symbolize?
Indivisible… with liberty.... and justice....for all.” Dr. Benjamin Carson
History may very well repeat itself, but it takes only a community of informed people to become aware and begin to make changes for a new outlook, as we once did becoming a great new nation. We can rise from the ashes of this recession, and its crippling deficits. Look to our local community and become more active in the rebuilding of our neighborhood’s welfare.
Acknowledge the strengths of our up and coming generation, and also their weaknesses, are we willing to work together again? This nation was built on the sweat of our forefather’s is it not acceptable to sweat a bit ourselves to bring about a healthier future? And sweat we have, but unfortunately the sweating isn't over for us yet, it is up to us to make these small but infinitely important changes. Pay attention to past history, let it not repeat it self.
There have always been vices but when these become obsessions…..it makes sense to notice also where obsessions lead.