Many people today think that our time in history is oh, so important. They believe that life today is more dangerous, more difficult, more demanding than ever. By the very definition of evolution, we must be the smartest people who ever lived. We are the result of human progress. The Western world is now “progressive”, so our collective decisions about how we live and what we do must be better than ever before. We are the current revision level. The latest. The best.
Maybe it’s time to think honestly about our place in history.
Sometimes when I catch myself whining about what a rough day I had, I think of the guys who stormed the beachhead at Normandy in the face of withering machine gun fire. Or the men who charged the enemy at Khe Sanh. Or Verdun. Or Gettysburg. Or Lexington. Or Fallujah.
I think of the frontier families who left all their comforts behind to travel west on a wagon, taking a life-or-death chance to find peace and prosperity in a new, untamed land.
I think of the kids who went to work at the age of 9 in a coal mine or sweat shop because they knew the family had to eat. And the people who face disability, disease, and injury and keep on working.
Our grandparents worked harder every day than we will on our best day. And knowing the challenges they overcame, they were probably smarter than most of us, too. Throughout history people have endured tremendous hardships, and have accomplished remarkable achievements. Many gave their lives to protect others from evil. How do we stack up against our predecessors?
The news pundits tell us that the 2016 presidential election is the most important one ever, to the exclusion of all other topics and events. With seven months until the election, there is nothing else on planet Earth worth reporting other than what our presidential candidates have to say about the most critical topics.
Sadly, the most critical topic right now seems to be whether the few hundred transgendered individuals who exist in our country should use a bathroom labeled “men”, “women”, or “other”.
We may not be fighting for our existence in a global war, but it’s not like there aren’t still serious challenges facing today’s world. Poverty still exists. Genocide continues. Despots and ideologues threaten peaceful citizens. Unborn children are slaughtered. But these big, historic issues are kicked aside by academic, media and political leaders who distract us with frivolous, fraudulent shiny-object issues, and our candidates are only too happy to join them in changing the subject: Climate change. Women’s rights. Safe rooms for college students who fear “white privilege”. Perceived police brutality. Gay wedding cakes.
Frankly, life in these United States is pretty good for most of us. We can preserve the qualities we inherited. We can make life even better, both at home and around the world. But it won’t happen unless we find and elect political leaders who have learned from history, who have a vision of what our place in history can be, and who don’t get distracted by shiny objects.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.