America’s Way Out of the Storm

Disheartening unemployment, unprecedented debt (personal, corporate and public) draining foreign wars, an aging population, a polarized politic – hardly America at its prime. Some contend we have reached our zenith and are on the waning side of the peak. We have been beaten and battered by choices made, public and private, and the folly we have collectively pursued. A small minority profits handsomely while the vast majority pays the fare. We remain caught in the storm – a storm of our own making.

We have harkened to the altar of Keynes and Friedman. We have pledged our sons and daughters to the blighted cause in far off lands. We have traded liberty for a false veil of security. We have exhausted every means to avoid paying the toll, yet the toll taker remains vigilant and steadfast – there is no free lunch. It is time to pay the price for our comfort and our complacency.

We now face the most difficult of choices: we can run, we can hide; we can attempt to salvage some scrap from the wreckage; or we can choose a most challenging path – a path through the storm.

As was once affirmed: “It is better to meet danger than to wait for it. He that is on a lee shore, and foresees a hurricane, stands out to sea and encounters a storm to avoid a wreck.” America’s way out of the storm is through it.

The greatness of America was not that of empire, not that of a domineering oppressor, but rather the product of a feisty counterpuncher – an underdog. America’s prowess was built on an adventurous spirit where the height of one’s accomplishment rested on the breadth of one’s character. A sentiment of fairness and equality served as the foundation, however imperfectly, for concerted effort, unconstrained creativity, and uncompromising collaboration.

America, a land of immigrants, at its best was a community of communities. Newcomers ventured to the promised land not in search of a handout and gilded bed-rest but rather to take advantage of a hand up and put themselves to the test in pursuit of the grandest of dreams.

Americans aimed high, risked everything, set colossal goals, and applied their blood, sweat and tears to forge new paths through the wilderness, build vast, life-affirming organizations, leverage unprecedented resources, and best any threat to their autonomy. American assets were the capital of free enterprise tempered by a hardened conviction to succeed.

The American dream was not a welfare state – the condition of individuals living off a nameless, faceless, patronizing bureaucracy. America was a land of the people, by the people, for the people.

This land of rugged individualists achieved preeminence by way of unparalleled cooperation and unforeseen good fortune brought on by a willingness to dream big and risk it all. The American experience was a test of a free people to apply themselves as they saw fit. Together they gave, they took, they worked, they laughed, they cried, they shared, they overcame. The storm upon America now is the result of the disintegration of that collaborative spirit.

Since the United States has risen to supremacy, its beacon has faded. We have succumb to the allure of power – where power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have set ourselves on a course to centralize wealth in the hands of the moneyed elite and rest the vestiges of political control from the disenchanted and deliberately isolated masses placing power squarely into the hands of a the politically privileged. The way out of the storm now is to decentralize. We must return the power to the people, to community. Those with vested interests must maintain control.

As Van Gogh once observed, “Fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” It is time for the electorate to reclaim America.

The moneyed interests and political apparatus seek only to appease voters, promising ever greater prosperity while ensuring ever more tumultuous times. To the powerful the storm never surges as they have erected barriers – the weak, ill-informed and malleable masses. The means for individuals and society to weather this storm are to overcome the ego – abandon competition – for renewed collaboration. We cannot reclaim the American dream by competing for ever diminishing pieces of pie. We must create a bigger pie together.

Apply a litmus test to every business or political proposal: knowing the only way out is to pay the bill – Does the proposal require commitment, sacrifice, vision by the people, for the people? If the offering does not, the scheme is likely snake oil designed to disadvantage the many for the benefit of the few. Only community will prevail in this storm. We are in this together, we must take control and cooperate with one another to navigate our way out.

The ultimate purpose of life is to relate and create. Our egos have led us into this malaise of competition and accumulation. America still has untapped resources of ingenuity, labor, physical assets and, if it can be invoked once again, undaunted fortitude. We need only the will to act and the foresight to once again dream great dreams – not for personal aggrandizement but for the betterment of all mankind. You see, it is not that this storm is only affecting America – the world is embroiled in the tumult. The world needs a beacon of hope. Is America once again willing to assume that mantle?

America was once an ideal of opportunity and achievement. America can again find its way. We must collectively and cooperatively stop the madness. For by seeing a vision and committing to a cause greater than our selves will can regain our footing. America’s way out of the storm is through it. The shared sacrifice of the people, for the people, can and will carry the day. Are you up to the challenge?

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