It seems like only yesterday everyone was talking about the advent of a new century and worried about Y2K and the end of life as we know it. Well, it has been a tumultuous decade for sure. Little did we know just how much our lives were going to change so quickly. Ten years can make a big difference.
Now just about everything we do and think is governed by a new reality ushered in by the events of September 11, 2001 and this country’s war on international terrorism. We now find ourselves at war in Iraq (don’t let anyone tell you it is over, not as long as Americans continue to die there) and in Afghanistan (nine years and counting). We can no longer travel freely and without fear in our own country. We can no longer say or write what we believe without fearing that we will be labeled “unpatriotic” by those who feel they represent and speak for all Americans, those who want to take America back to its core values by voicing platitudes without backing them up with action. Talk is cheap, and if you look around, it seems to me they want to take more away than give back to us our American birth right. Fear seems to govern everything we do and by giving in to it, we are capitulating to the merchants of fear at home and abroad, those who will take because we are too afraid to defend what is rightfully ours.
I am reminded of another time when America stood on a similar brink. The country had been devastated by the Great Depression and the specter of totalitarianism was beginning to spread its long fingers across Europe with the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the Presidency in early 1933 and during his inaugural speech he addressed the American people “with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impels.” His words that day still ring true:
This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
It is time for our current leaders to speak with equal candor and decision. We should all do what we feel is right to make our country great again. Not red states or blue states, but united states. We must do what is necessary so that we can once again live without fear. So now, as we begin a new year, a new decade of the 21st century, we wonder what lies ahead of us. More of the same? I certainly hope not. There’s the word . . . “Hope.” Time for a new start. Let us not abandon our hope for a better time to come. We must all work together again, just as FDR urged the American people to give up petty differences for the common good.
It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and parts of the United States of America - a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that recovery will endure.
Let us all work together to make 2011 a watershed year, a benchmark in our history, when “they” and “us” once again become “we.”
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