Has The Shining Light That Is America Gone Out?

From the standpoint of an American, it is hard to watch what has happened to our nation.  America is floundering.  The great shining beacon of democracy is faltering, flickering, and clearly not shining as brightly as it once did. President Reagan’s quote, “America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” is no more and it is a crying shame.

What has happened?  How did it come to this?  Is it all politics or something else more sinister, more damning?  Our country has always had a vibrant political conflict.  The two main parties have seldom agreed on much of anything and have constantly fought each other.  Sometimes on issues, sometimes about personalities, sometimes about just trying to perpetuate their own power, but those conflicts seldom damaged the very fabric that made up America and our way of life.  That is until now.

America is changing and, in my opinion, not for the better.  What is even more disturbing is we are letting it happen right before our eyes, and a large portion of the population doesn’t seem to care or maybe does not realize it is happening.  We all remember the story about the frog in the pot.  Turn the heat up slowly and the frog, who could have saved itself by jumping out, will boil to death without realizing what is happening to it.   It is a good analogy to the current state of affairs.

America has always stood for freedom of speech.  This is so important that it is written into our Constitution in the very first amendment. However, what we see now is a blanket acceptance of restrictions of this freedom.  Not only that, but people are now actively being punished for their views.  The “woke” movement and the rise of the “Cancel Culture” is widely and happily accepted.  Opposing views are no longer debated or discussed.  No, the order of the day is to cancel opposing views as well as those that have them.  People’s careers, reputations, livelihoods, and everything else are now fair game to the cancel culture.  It is not acceptance, not tolerance, it is retribution and punishment. Punishment for something that we used to vehemently protect. This most important freedom is being wiped away with little concern.

Academic freedom, that ability to teach and not be subject to political or social restrictions is outdated.  Our once great academic institutions no longer teach but now are used to indoctrinate a certain approved agenda. History is changed to fit the current narrative.  Diversity is turned on its head and now used as a weapon against any institution that is not “woke” enough. Teachers and professors are punished, censured, and blacklisted it they don’t bow down to this new culture.  And those running those institutions are afraid to stand up and protest the change for fear of being the next target to be canceled.

On the international stage, America was trusted, revered, but no longer.  Our allies are rethinking their positions.  They see America fail to keep promises.  They see America retreat from agreements and responsibilities.  They see America weakening and struggling to find its footing.

Afghanistan was a real eye-opener for many countries that looked upon America as a trusted ally that would come to their defense.  The Afghanistan pullout shocked the world.   Allies were astonished not only with the speed in which America retreated from the region, but also in the way we had done it.  We went back on promises and commitments we made to thousands of people.  We turned our trust and security over to the very enemy we had been fighting for twenty years and we equipped them with better military weapons and technology than many of our allies.

Then to add insult to injury, when our allies asked for more time to react and safeguard their own commitments, we refused.  I have spoken with a few of my international colleagues, and they are in the words of my British friend, “gob-smacked” that America’s leadership lost sight of what was important, in exchange for a political objective and expediency.

America has always been a welcoming country.  Yes, the immigration system is complicated and long, but it is law.  America has also always been a country of laws and justice.  However, the way America is currently handling the immigration crisis is not only idiotic, but it is embarrassing.  Our political leaders are not answering basic questions and are in some instances, flat out lying.  What is more telling is that there is a real possibility the mass illegal immigration was designed for a political purpose.

The Democrat Party tried to pass bills that would give citizenship and voting rights to millions of people in the U.S. that are not only in the country illegally but are not authorized to vote. This could be seen as a blatant attempt to garner Democrat Party votes. If that is true, it is a sad circumvention of all that our political system was supposed to stand for.  However, this too is being accepted by many as a good idea.  Our freedoms and our privileges as U.S. citizens are eroded and made less valuable by such an idea.

Then there is COVID.  The constant shifting policies, the forced mandates, and the political decisions that affect private businesses and lives are in many places readily accepted. Again, the government intrudes on rights guaranteed in our founding documents. The decisions now being made by the government and the acceptance of those mandates push America farther and farther away from what it once was, and closer to a nation completely controlled by a few in government and not the people as it was designed.

Lastly is the trust we held in the media and in our leaders to tell us the truth. The independent media is a thing of the past. Like the old saying about the two major newspapers in the former USSR, Pravda and Investia. Pravda means truth and Investia means news. There is no news in the truth and no truth in the news.  Our news media have become arms of political parties or pundits for the opinion of the hour.

The real news, those things we can plainly see with our own eyes is simply ignored for social, political, or “woke” reasons without even an attempt to be objective. The strength of the media was its independence.  It was a check on the politicians and the government.  It was so important that freedom of the press was a right.  Now the press has abdicated their position as a fact checker, an objective voice, and a balance to keep government honest. They have become part of the problem and not part of the solution.  It is such a loss to our nation to have the self-appointed watch dogs figuratively euthanize themselves.

The strength of America has always been its people and the freedoms that were so jealously protected. As those rights and freedoms are slowly eroded away, just like the frog in the boiling pot, they will be gone before we even notice it and that “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” will be extinguished.