Friday, July 04, 2008

We the Middling People

I offer my thoughts this Independence Day, July 4th, 2008.

In 1747, Benjamin Franklin, a man who would one day become a founding father of our nation, published a pamphlet titled Order, Discipline, and a Few Cannon. His purpose for this pamphlet was to rouse the everyday people to form a citizen's militia. He referred to his fellow Philadelphians as "we, the middling People, the Tradesmen, Shopkeepers, and Farmers of this Province and City."

Middling? Average. Everyday. Common. Joe Six-Pack.

America has always been about "we the middling people." We are the nation who rejected the reign of monarchs, who established a system of self-government run "of the people, by the people, and for the people." We Americans have historically been able to do just about anything we set our minds to do.

We defeated Great Britain, the world's mightiest military twice, once in 1775-83 and again in 1812-14. We survived a war between ourselves and came out better for it. We built telegraph lines from coast to coast, then railroads, then telephone lines, then airlines, then Interstate highways. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, we geared up our factories and built the world's mightiest military machine in just four short years, defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. We set the wheels in motion to correct past abuses when we repealed Jim Crow laws and determined that the "civil rights" of every American would be protected. We landed a man on the moon.

But now, pundits are decrying the horrible condition of of things in this sad little country of ours. Other nations are passing us by in education, technology, science, etc. Fareed Zakaria writes in Newsweek of his read on the American situation:

"American anxiety springs from something much deeper, a sense that large and disruptive forces are coursing through the world. In almost every industry, in every aspect of life, it feels like the patterns of the past are being scrambled. "Whirl is king, having driven out Zeus," wrote Aristophanes 2,400 years ago. And—for the first time in living memory—the United States does not seem to be leading the charge. Americans see that a new world is coming into being, but fear it is one being shaped in distant lands and by foreign people."
Zakaria goes on to say that the day is coming when America will no longer be the leader of the free world. Huh? ... who will take our place, then? Will there even be a "free world" if America slips from the stage? Read it for yourself: The Rise of the Rest.

I admit that there is somewhat of a pall that hangs over our country these days. We are portrayed by media as a nation divided. We are "red states" and "blue states." And according to Michelle Obama, America is "just downright mean."

None of this makes us feel real good about ourselves, does it? And it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, either. How is it that we have somehow slipped into this self-induced, "woe is me" state?
We suffer from an identity crisis. Who are we? Apparently we are not as sure as we once were.

Are we the same "middling people" who did all of those great things listed above, and more, or are we now some other people? Have we lost pride in our country, our flag? Is patriotism now passé?

America is becoming like the child who has been told over and over and over again by a parent that they will never amount to anything. Our self-image is bruised. We beat each other up with our words. Our national psyche has been damaged.

Have "we the middling people" trusted too much in our presidents, our judges, our congressmen, our senators, our bureaucrats, our radio talk show hosts, our college professors, our media elites?

Well ..... duh.

Hey, here's some GOOD news! America belongs to "we the middling people." It is ours, not theirs! The first step in climbing out of our national "malaise" is to remember the first three words of our nation's Constitution: "We the middling People."

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4 Comments:

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Brian Francis Hume said...

Mark, thanks for writing an excellent piece for us "middling" people!

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger John said...

Nicely said! The only thing I'd love to see you add are some stories of "middling" people and what they've accomplished.

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger Joel Schmidgall said...

Great post for this weekend! It's amazing that anyone of any class in this country can shift it's course. What a great place to live and what a great responsibility to uphold.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger gregg.reynolds said...

Hello Mark,

Happy 4th of July.

"When you do this for the the least of these you do this for me."

You have no documents. You will take our jobs. Go away. Our laws do not welcome you here. You will be a drain on our medical system. We will have to pay for your health care. Go home.

"When you do this for the the least of these you do this for me."

God bless,
Gregg Reynolds
703-494-8566

 

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