I am trying to figure out what has me so depressed. It isn’t that there are hard times ahead. We all have hard times ahead. No matter what government exists, life is suffering. We will lose loved ones. We will suffer sickness. We will lose physical stamina. We will die. Life is pain and it has always been so. We all know that the future holds pain and we accept it stoically. I can accept and live with that future. I accepted a painful future since I realized I was mortal at the age of five or six.
What bothers me is my new understanding of the nature of my fellow citizens. I had always believed that 2008 was a fluke. A crashing economy and a weak GOP candidate was a perfect storm that let a slick talking, crypto-Marxist shyster slide into office. I was sure it would be corrected in 2012. The shellacking in 2010 confirmed my belief.
That view of 2008 and, therefore, of my fellow citizens was shattered last week. The scales have fallen from my eyes and I now realize that the majority of voting Americans are no longer the people I thought they were or the Founders envisioned they would be. The Founders saw Americans as individualistic, self-reliant, modest in their national ambitions, suspicious of the passions of the masses and in need of little from any sort of central bureaucracy.
Americans as the Founders saw them, it is now clear, are a dying breed. In their place is a new breed of American: dependent, needy, demanding, childish and weak. Until last Tuesday night, I didn’t believe it. Now I have to believe it.
I have no fear of the future. I have known all of my life that this existence is filled with pain and that everyone of us will eventually suffer and die. That is the nature of the human experience and nothing the government does or doesn’t do will change that. The worst case scenario we can envision will still be a better life than most of humanity has experienced.
What I can’t shake is the sadness associated with the further erosion in my already low estimation of my fellow man. Quoting Theodore Roosevelt…
In the last analysis a healthy state can exist only when the men and women who make it up lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them; not to seek ease, but to know how to wrest triumph from toil and risk. The man must be glad to do a man’s work, to dare and endure and to labor; to keep himself, and to keep those dependent upon him. The woman must be the housewife, the helpmeet of the homemaker, the wise and fearless mother of many healthy children. In one of Daudet’s powerful and melancholy books he speaks of “the fear of maternity, the haunting terror of the young wife of the present day.” When such words can be truthfully written of a nation, that nation is rotten to the heart’s core. When men fear work or fear righteous war, when women fear motherhood, they tremble on the brink of doom; and well it is that they should vanish from the earth, where they are fit subjects for the scorn of all men and women who are themselves strong and brave and high-minded.
As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
We are increasingly a nation of little more than cumberers of the earth’s surface, shirkers of duty and slothful cowards. I cannot help but mourn our loss.
Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life. 1900.