I have a word or two to say about America. It is a hymn to “what was” as well as a sad dirge of “farewell”. For, as surely as I believe anything, I believe the America our founding fathers envisioned, and the America our ancestors built, is rapidly fading into history.
Imagine, if you will, an America not unlike, the ocean tides, constantly in roil, but washing up each day to sweep the refuge on and off the shores of humanity. The same tide that sweeps clean the ebb and flow of of our leavings also swept to our golden shores the hopes and dreams of millions of immigrants who carried in their hearts the stories they had heard of a far off land that valued “people”.
They fled to America from every part of the globe, fled despots and iron-handed rule, having heard America’s siren song in fabled tale and missives from those who had gone before them. The most powerful “stanza” of the siren song was “the American Dream”; the idea that, if they worked hard, and if there dreams were real enough, in America those dreams could surely be realized.
Even beneath the iron gray skies of despotism these would be immigrants heard the siren song of a Jefferson and his Declaration of Independence “in the course of human events...” and they rejoiced in the idea of throwing off the shackles and the embracement of individual freedom. These “huddled masses” also heard of “We the people” and tried to imagine a government that might celebrate “god-given rights”.
Yes! America’s siren songs were flitting about the world, filling the hearts of the lost with hope for a better life, a meaningful life. And so they came. They arrived with just the clothes on their back and poly syllable names. The Swedes, the Germans, the Irish, the Asians. They came with nothing but a dream to lay claim to.
They paid their dues by accepting the most menial of jobs. They plowed our fields, they built our bridges, built our skyscrapers, they laid thousands of mile of rail..and waited their turn to move up the economic ladder...all the while, with the dream that their children shall live and thrive in a free society.
Sometimes the tides of freedom washed clean and new while leaving the less fortunate untouched in its wake. Blacks and Native Americans continued to struggle to meld into “the melting pot”. But even then America got it right; great storms of resentment brought about titanic waves of change that swept away the bigots and tyrants who chose to value worth by the color of one’s skin. The thunder of a righteous God quieted the voices of hate and prejudice.
Alas, the American Dream is slowly fading away, to be replaced by a desperate apathy. We wallow in the poverty of politicians and mourn the loss of “statesmen” who once reminded us how we got here. Where once giants led us, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan, we are now ruled by “little men” who demean the hard efforts of the successful and revel in false victimhood.