Saturday, April 20, 2013

The American Journey: Does it all still work?

On the same day that we as Americans found out about the recent Bombings in Boston I bought a book by Columnist Richard Reeves, entitled American Journey. The book, white with black letters on the front, was written in 1982, it was a question to all of us: "Does America Still Work?"
After all, unemployment is up, crime is rampant, corruption in government seems to be a norm, and the media keeps lying to us. Taxes are too high and the government cannot sustain itself forever on the current system.
Although Reeves had written 31 years ago, I found that everything he addressed as being problems in his time were problems in ours. That caused bigger questions to form. Since this was not an isolated incident,-America having problems-and the same problems then seemed to still be problems, did America really work at all? Reeves said, many of his problems, some of course excluded, were already problems in the 1830s when Alexis de Tocqueville wrote a somewhat similar book with a similar question.
After reading Reeves work, I took a trip to the capitol of Tennessee, at Nashville.
While there I saw many, many things. At the news stand was USA Today, with a front line news story speaking of the government's manhunt of the suspects in the bombings. There was no hiding of motives, everything was open. The law enforcement officers were not bursting into houses without warrants, and the man would still be innocent until proven guilty.
As we drove, I read a book by a talking media head criticizing the government, calling them all sorts of unpleasant names, at times calling the government almost a grand cover up, and at others reminding us how great it was. If that man had tried to write such a book in some countries, say North Korea, he may have never gotten the book to print, and if he did he would not have lasted very long once he got it published.
I turned on an iPhone, here we had an app detailing every shift of the stock market. No one could hide which companies were doing good and which ones were not. If someone did try to hide, we would all call "foul" and have him locked up.
The sheer mass of information we are allowed is amazing. On a sidebar of my computer I have a counter monitoring seven top world currencies against the dollar. If I want to, I can watch how every little move of the government directly affects me, and if I do not like how it does so, and enough people agree with me, out goes that government.
On shops along the street in downtown there were people buying and selling. No police officers were stopping people to ask if they had bought any banned books. There were officers around, but none of them were asking why I was walking around with a notebook.
People were eating without ration cards, there were no bombs falling from the sky. I could walk down main street unarmed and not fear armed robbery. The food and water would not get me sick, and I could have as much as I had resources for. Food, religion, speech, information, all was there for all to have.
While there I asked author and army veteran J. Charles Buck a couple of questions as we stood across the street from the capitol, near a gigantic courtyard where people were sitting around a pool, listening to music, eating, and sleeping.
First, I asked him the question that troubled me most.

Q: What is the American Dream?
A: I am 58 years old. There is one thing I have learned about America. I have done the two things I wanted most in my life. I have raised my family and I have provided for them. The American Dream is that you can do anything you want, if you are willing to work for it.

Then I asked him the one question on which all the rhetoric stands or falls.

Q: Sir, I need to know, the American Dream, the Constitution, does it all work?
A: When I was in the military, I traveled all around the world. I have seen lots of different places. And when I come back this is what I know. America is the greatest nation on earth....If you have a military unit, everyone has their own job. This person does this and this person does that. If everyone does their job, everything works well. That is America. People don't always do their job though, and that's when you have problems. That's when you vote em' out. America works. I have traveled all around the world, if it does not work here, there is nowhere else is it working."

As I was leaving, I stood in a large courtyard near a gigantic statue with a warrior, who, I believe, was supposed to represent Liberty. Someone there said "This is a grand country isn't it?"

I had to agree with them. The very best.

Not everyone always does what they are supposed to do, then we vote them out. At times there are bumps in the road, but that is all a part of the American Journey.

Through His Strength We Will Conquer,
Andrew C. Abbott

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