I have been trying to understand my family’s history. I have made a lot of new friends on different sites because of close relatives who have come to my attention because of shared DNA. I am shocked at how little I know. Either I wasn’t told or I did not pay attention before this. I was sent a copy of a book about my family that is fascinating. It is titled “Westmoreland Ancestry”, and is a book written by Lucia Foster. She begins the book with a quote from an article written by Mr. Alton S. Newell that he wrote for The Wall Street Journal on July 3, 1980. This is a segment from Newell’s article – “Once Upon a Time”- that is important for us to think about Now:
“Once upon a time, far away and long ago, in the old country, a group of people became dissatisfied with their government’s unnecessary interference into their personal and private lives. They felt so strongly about this they decided to leave their native land and seek a new country. This entailed a far greater decision that we realize today. We think of crossing the Atlantic in a few hours with a comfortable reception awaiting us on the other side. They knew they would face months of hardships, sacrifice and unknown dangers on their voyage and after they reached their destination. They weighed all the potential problems against their desire and determination and the answer was go. I am glad we had people back then with faith in God, faith in themselves, and their fellow man. We should be pleased to speculate that we may just have some of their blood in our veins.
They came to these shores and expended blood, sweat, and tears and under divine guidance set up a system of government with the concept of the value, the rights, the freedom and the responsibility of the individual. Men and women working under this concept led us into our free enterprise system that has served this nation so well.
When a man knows that his future depends on his own desires, his ambition, and his own energy he will work hard to provide a better life for himself and his loved ones. Our free enterprise system has brought to this country the highest standard of living known to man. Not only have we provided ourselves a high standard of living, but we have helped many other nations of the world better their lot also. We have provided the technology and inspiration for much of the progress made in the world. We spent billions of dollars going to the moon and probing outer space and then shared this technology with the rest of the world, even with those people who seem to want to do us in. We have sent peacemakers to most all the troubled spots of the world. Several times when these peace missions failed, American blood was spilled in our effort to keep free men free. We can be rightfully proud of the part we have played in making life easier for many people of the world.
Now I wish I could stop there and say all is well with America, but You know I can’t. In recent years we seem to have stirred up a hornet’s nest of problems for ourselves. We are beset on every hand with turbulence and frustrations as groups and individuals assert their rights without any thought about their responsibilities. If we were to try to define our problems with one word, that word would have to be responsibility .
Our forefathers gave us a good prescription when they based the structure of our society on the value, the rights, the freedom and responsibility of the individual. We all know what our rights are, but we seem to have forgotten our responsibility.
When Johnnie doesn’t learn how to read it’s not his fault, it’s the fault of the teacher. If he gets into trouble it’s because of the failure of the school. If he gets on drugs, it’s the fault of the community. In trouble with the police, it’s police brutality. When anyone gets into trouble today the shrinks all get together to try and find out what went wrong in the society where he was raised. They look everywhere except in the individual himself. If we don’t put responsibility back into the fabric of our nation we are in trouble!
Every right and every freedom comes with responsibility attached. We don’t have a right to a clean environment without the responsibility to help provide it. We don’t have a right to food, clothing and shelter without the responsibility to work hard and make every effort to obtain them. We don’t have the right to enter the promised land without the responsibility of going through the wilderness. We don’t have the right to live in a free country without the responsibility to defend it.
This irresponsible generation, all those of us living today, have some things mixed up. We spend millions of dollars shielding our highways from the junk yards and hang our pornography at eye level for our children in the newsstands. We worry about air and water pollution and then shovel filth into our living room through our television sets. We turn loose the criminals and lock up the juries. Married people are living apart and singles are living together. We want to ban saccharin and legalize marijuana. We have basically banned prayer from our schools and allow obscenities. Our students have so many rights the teachers are becoming disgusted and afraid and are leaving their classrooms for safer jobs. Lack of responsibility and undisciplined living are sapping the vitality of America.
Now, I don’t want to convey the idea that I think America is doomed. I still think it is the best country in the world. There is still a lot more right about it than there is wrong. I just don’t want us to drift into careless mediocrity. I don’t want to criticize my country without trying to offer a solution to problems brought up. What then shall we do? Shall we look to Washington?
Do you realize that we have had at least 5 different presidents and hundred of other leaders in Washington since our decline started 15 or 20 years ago! That decline has not deviated, but has been consistent during this time. I believe the trouble lies at the so-called grass roots. That’s at your feet and mine. A few years ago, a congressman was run out of Washington by his colleagues when it was discovered that a young lady on his Payroll had very few duties, but to provide fringe benefits for him. He went back home to a standing ovation from the people who had sent him to Washington. Several other congressmen have been re-elected after discovery of irregularities in their conduct. I believe we will receive, and only deserve, the kind of government we insist on.
We complain of inflation, but we keep on buying. We complain of high gasoline prices, but keep on driving. We complain of government hand-outs, but jump into the first line where we can get ours. We complain of wasteful government projects, but dance with glee, when our representative wins one for our community.
We complain of filth on television and by our viewing habits make the most popular programs those that appeal to our basic animal instincts. We regret the decline in America’s spiritual life as we sit in front of the television set on Sunday morning nursing a hangover from the night before.
We, the people, can have the kind of country we want. America needs to be born again. It will not come about from Washington, but must begin in you and me. It’s getting late. Happy meditation this 4th of July.”