Saturday, June 20, 2009

Everything's Not Lost...?

“When I counted up my demons

Saw there was one for every day

With the good ones on my shoulders

I drove the other ones away…”

Coldplay (“Everything’s Not Lost”)

I’ve spent the last few weeks battling demons, and I wish I could report to you a long and detailed list of my victories. Unfortunately, the best I can say is that I’ve reached a stalemate in which progress is stagnate at best. I’m struggling.

I know we are all busy people. Dear God, how I know! I am all too familiar with how our personal lives can get in the way of things which are – on a bigger scale – far more critical to the personal safety and happiness of everyone living in America right now. However, the world does not stop turning (or changing, for that matter) just because we need to stop and tend to our personal lives for a while. In fact, the rate at which progressives are progressing seems to hasten to a break-neck pace the very moment we turn our attention away from current affairs and politics. Coming back to the world after a recent and extended respite, I despair even more.

And I begin to wonder about things.

I wonder if the people of America are at all concerned about the way things are changing and the dangerous speed at which these transformations are happening. Is it that we are too laissez-faire to take an active role in preserving what we have, or are we as a nation just too blahse-faire to care whether or not remain a people united under the banner of liberty? Is the “American way of life” getting too much in the way for us to be concerned about preserving that very same way of life? Must we absolutely lose everything we cherish to the extent that we no longer have luxuries by which to be distracted before we are willing as American citizens to fight for what our Founding Fathers sacrificed so much and for so long to give us?

I have always struggled with the delicate balance between being overly serious with matters I feel passionate about, and just kicking my heels up and having a good, simple, carefree time. Recent history has taught me that my best means of achieving any sort of balance is via a bit of vice-laden therapy: tossing back cheap white wine and chain-smoking my way through whatever is left of a pack of Menthol lights. The likelihood that I, and those around me, may all have a great time increases greatly, yet I end up no closer to answering the questions that plague me.

Is it possible that I simply care too much?

When I say that I care about our Founders, I don’t mean it in the same sense as a gooey sentiment printed across a crunchy Valentine’s Day candy heart. I mean that I really, truly, sincerely care about the people they were, the lives through which each of them struggled, and the consequences of every choice they made and how they affected my own life today. The more I read about each of our Founding Fathers individually, the more moved and awestruck I am by the real and genuine people they were. These weren’t superheroes in leotards and capes charging out of the clouds to rescue hapless damsels in distress. They were real people. They suffered real challenges. They were imperfect in their personal lives, in many ways just like you and me. They had flaws, some of which created tension between them, though they were able to see past those flaws when necessary for the sake of independence. They were not gods among men in any way, shape, or form. But where the pursuit of liberty and freedom from tyranny was concerned, they were thankfully guided by the wisdom of many of the great thinkers who had preceded them and, quite likely, by Divine Providence, herself.

Therefore, all things considered, I feel quite obligated to these very individuals to uphold and protect the very thing they fought so hard to provide for us. And I wonder just why so many people appear not to feel the same way…

Perhaps people show a lack of interest because they never really had to fight for what they have. Things of great value always come at great cost, do they not? Yet, the luxuries and liberties we have enjoyed in this country for so long were hard fought and provided to us by our predecessors. A vast majority of us played no significant part in obtaining the freedoms and liberties we so enjoy, and it seems to me that the most logical explanation of our current situation is our own lack of any kind of laborious effort. We’ve never known the suffocation brought on by the cruel hand of tyranny wrapping tightly around our throats as if it was the horrendous yoke of slavery (that we know only from history books). We’re spoiled. We take everything we have—everything that our forefathers suffered and fought to provide for us—for granted.

And it’s time we put this destructive cycle to rest.

Not everyone believes in an afterlife. I do. And my concern is in coming (at some point) face to face with our Founding Fathers—and even my very own forefathers who may have fought in the same Revolution that provided me the life I now enjoy—and having to answer one question: what did I do with the Republic they established for me? Will I be able to even look them in the eye knowing that for so long I remained ignorant and silent as others sought to tear it apart? Will I be wrought with shame and unable to answer for my actions or lack thereof? Will I perhaps shrug and inform them of just how busy I was with personal matters and how little time and knowledge I could spare for the sake of my fellow countrymen? Or will I be blessed with the opportunity to stand among them and claim that I did all that I possibly could to uphold the principles, values, and integrity of what they so graciously founded over two hundred years ago?

Some may call me crazy for even wondering such things.

I consider them crazy for not doing so.

Perhaps it’s time we all start using a little foresight, because there will come a time when we all must answer to our own deeds and misdeeds.

I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil, but he once made a statement that has resonated with me ever since: When you choose the action, you choose the consequence. He was right. And now it’s time for us to choose. While the actions may not seem desirable, we must consider the consequence, and use that to tip the balance scales in favor of doing what’s right. It may be painful. It may require hours and hours of heavy and burdensome labor.

But it will be right.

And—or at least I believe — it will be worth it.

“So if you ever feel neglected

And if you think that all is lost

I'll be counting up my demons, yeah

Hoping everything's not lost…”

Coldplay (“Everything’s Not Lost”)

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