During my childhood, there existed an almost tangible awareness of pride in being “American!” In our classrooms, from our pulpits, on main street, and in our homes… there was an overwhelming sense of “accomplishment” in what we had achieved as a people, what we were doing, and what still waited to be done! We were the embodiment of EXCELLENCE… in our agriculture, industry, science, education, and art! Across the board… WE WERE AMERICANS AND PROUD OF IT! We chose “TO DO,“ not because the task was easy but rather because the un-mastered challenge was incredibly hard. And thus, as Americans, we set the bar always higher…. not for the sake of disqualification but for our quest of self-improvement! We were after all… AMERICANS!
Then at the apex of our culture… the pinnacle of our success, one noble leader passed with these dying words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country!” And in his stead rose another who promised to grant… “A Great Society” for an America that was already GREAT through the industry of her people!
Sadly, the politician’s false assurance was not to be… for societal greatness can never be granted… only earned! However, by planting that misnamed seed, demise was sown in our land under the guise of “entitlement!”
Gradually, very gradually… as charity replaced industry, complacency overshadowed self-motivation. Falsely assuming that the “Great Society” might sustain indolence, labor turned a blind eye to sloth, forgetting that productive workers grow old and die as sluggards are spawned with each new generation. Slowly, ever so slowly… the gears progressively ground to a dead stop. Where talent and innovation once bloomed, now disability languished! “Accomplishment” sank to abysmal depths as "qualification" for public assistance grew.
And “pride?” You ask about “pride...” as our great cities died?
Pride arose from the recognition of value, the essence of true worth. And worth only comes through personal investment of time, labor or resources. Without investment, all other forms of gain arrive either at the hand of charity or theft. But neither charity nor theft can impart a sense of true worth, absent the personal value of what was either granted or unlawfully claimed. Thus a void formed with the exclusion of value, a lack of appreciation developed where once there was pride. Driven by the awareness of their lack of awareness, individual’s subsisting on the benevolence of others grasped for more of what they could never attain except for the investment of themselves. Without experiencing the full measure of their self-fulfilled humanity, these bottom feeders wallowed in an attitude of loathing and disgust. Forfeiting any justification for self-appreciation, these sluggards disapproved of everyone else around them as well. Having sabotaged their own potential through inaction, they claimed “abuse” from the society that fed them. Sex became their distraction and drugs their escape. Rude… insolent… these vagabonds decried all who strove for higher goals requiring industriousness. For the smallest effort on the part of one toward self-advancement subsequently illuminated the unwillingness of others to make any improvement at all… if it required work!
And now our elected officials, those same guarantors of the failed "great society," are afraid, afraid of the “entitlement” MONSTER they have created. Hoping to secure their own questionable "worth," these political panderers seize the property of others in order to appease the hungry masses who have neither worked nor have any appreciation for the value of it.
So, ask no more… WHERE AMERICAN PRIDE HAS GONE! American pride and the Christian work ethic both died together… along with our ability to see and speak the truth!
Commentary by Edwin Woolsey, Willow Springs, MO