Viewpoint: Is America’s dream dead?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”—Proverbs 29:18

We all know there is no dearth of problems in this country. The media is full of them and proposals to solve them. There’s terrorism, the economy, erosion of civil liberties, spreading fascism, an insane war mentality.

But these are merely symptoms. The underlying problem is more fundamental. There is no vision. As T.S. Eliot wrote: “When the legends die, the dreams end.

When the dreams end, there is no more greatness.” Some believe the dream is dead.

The emphasis today is not on the great ideals of freedom and justice and a moral society. We are feverishly in pursuit of money, power and authority. These things have become ends in themselves. They are our modern gods.

In 1936 President Franklin Roosevelt told the Congress: “We have earned the hatred of entrenched greed.” There are many in our society today who have no sense of self-worth. They try to measure themselves by the size of their portfolios and their bank accounts.

At the highest levels they cook the books, rob millions of their rightful earnings, and evade payment of taxes in order to attempt to compensate for the integrity lacking in their characters.

Who, do you think, among those holding the highest offices in the land, or on the Supreme Court, is willing to give his life for the freedom of his countrymen? Where is the Patrick Henry of today?

The elite old men send the common young men and women to die—cannon-biological-nuclear fodder.

How many corporate executives would pledge their treasure to keep the country free?

Can you imagine what the Founding Fathers would think about politicians concerned only with keeping themselves in power and selling their votes to political action committees, or so-called leaders trying to force their will on the world, or businessmen more concerned with the value of their stocks than in furnishing quality goods and services at a fair price?

Making money and forcing others to bend to our wishes looks pretty grubby against the ideals of freedom and justice. The thing that drove the founders of this nation to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, was a profound desire to be free of tyranny, in whatever form.

That is what carried them through the trials at Valley Forge and the later struggles against repression. They had a sense of becoming, of striving toward that ideal.

How does that perception differ from ours today? We seem to believe we have become, that the ideal has been achieved. That is a blatant misperception. When the dream dies, dogma takes the stage.

A mere tea tax launched our American Revolution. Now we have the interest gouging of the Federal Reserve (a private company), a national income tax, a state income tax, a property tax, sales tax and license fees of all kinds. Taxed like feudal peasants, we herd, only cattle in the run.

In our age, wisdom has yielded to feverish activity. We assume we are superior, and so we try to force the rest of the world to acknowledge that imagining or face our sword. Worse, our leaders try to impose their will on everyone within the country. In our view, if we control one and all, show our muscle and send our troops across the globe, it demonstrates that we have realized our potential.

Old people are afraid to dream dreams, and young people fear vision and display little individual or intellectual courage. It has all been replaced with activity. The sense of history falls under schedules, conquests. The sense of growth or metamorphosis stagnates.

What sort of future looms for a nation that holds profits in higher esteem than people, money above morals and stock options more valuable than social conscience?

Thomas Jefferson said: “The whole of government consists in the art of being honest.” Does that characterize this government or the one before it or the one before that?

A nation which has exchanged its birthright for stock portfolios and bank accounts can no longer find the means to seek greatness. It can no longer support dissent or varied viewpoints, critiques or objections to its programs.

Jefferson wrote to Dr. Benjamin Rush in 1800: “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Today we are told that if anyone opposes the president or any of his programs or ideas, then that person is unpatriotic. This mindless mantra relieves the reciter of the truly patriotic duty called, “critical thinking.”

President Eisenhower, speaking at the Columbia University bicentennial dinner, May 31, 1954, said: “Without exhaustive debate, even heated debate, of ideas and programs, free government would weaken and wither. But if we allow ourselves to be persuaded that every individual or party that takes issue with our own convictions is necessarily wicked or treasonous, then indeed, we are approaching the end of freedom’s road.”

The clique in Washington, however, brooks no dissent. They are so convinced of the absolute correctness of their dogmas that they want to install a national network of informers to report any persons suspected as “evildoers” to the Vaterland Security Office. What has happened to the dream?

We are prohibited from being one nation under God. Now we say: “I pledge allegiance to the dollar, and to the regime for which it stands, one Homeland, under Bush, without liberty or justice for all. Thanks be to Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and the holiness of oil.”

Editor & Publisher Frank Schier also contributed to this editorial.

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