An Unserious Nation in Serious Times

Saturday, July 16, 2016
by Patrick Dorinson

Just when you thought we might get through a week without a major disaster, two more events shook the civilized world.

On Thursday in Nice, France on a warm evening as people got ready to watch the fireworks celebrating France’s national holiday, Bastille Day, a madman drove a truck down a popular promenade crushing bodies under the tires killing 84 innocents.

Among the dead were many children.

Then on Friday evening news flashed around the world that the military in Turkey had seized the country in a coup toppling the government of President Erdogan.

As of this writing it appears the coup has failed which only means a crackdown on the losing side is sure to come.

But according to the media the big story this week was the Pokemon Go phenomenon that is sweeping the planet.

Pokemon began as a video game and with the advance of technology it can now be played on a smartphone.

I have no idea why this is so popular but watching people walk around bumping into trees while staring at their cell phones is troubling.

It’s not that staring at one’s phone is anything new. Go into a Starbucks and that is all you will see.

What’s troubling is that this is not just a game for kids.

Adults are the biggest players and they are becoming addicted to this mindless game.

 And at the risk of being labeled an old fuddy duddy who yells “get off my lawn” at the neighborhood kids, I for one think this and other temporary escapes from the troubles of the world is one of the main reasons why we avoid confronting the problems we need to face.

From ISIS who wants to turn our streets into killing fields to the powder keg of race relations that threatens to tear the nation asunder to a no-growth economy where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle disappears we keep avoiding the inevitable.

And then every four years we look to political saviors to lead us out of the mess never asking what sacrifices will be required of us as citizens to change the errant course of our nation.

We are polled and focused grouped like lab rats so the so-called experts can tailor messages we will respond to.

When politicians tell us they have run out of our money to pay for the things we want they cry “Tax the Rich”!

And since most of us won’t be affected by the tax we agree to it never realizing that raising taxes will never create a better economy.

As Winston Churchill said, “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle”.

(Authors Note: If you are a veteran you can skip the next few paragraphs.)

When the war drums sound and the nation must defend itself, we shout “USA, USA” and act all red, white and blue macho because with an all volunteer military most of us will not be called to fight. It’s easy to be tough when you won’t be doing any of the fighting and dying.

The most reluctant warriors are the warriors themselves because they know what combat really is.

And yet we have strained the lives and families of these gallant men and women with endless tours of duty to the point that their readiness to defeat our enemies has been greatly reduced.

And when our inner cities boil over we have yet another “conversation on race” and when that is over a commission is formed to produce a report that no one reads and our leaders pat themselves on the back believing they have accomplished something.

But the problems only get worse as local urban politicians pillage their treasuries giving subsidies to billionaires to build sports arenas that promise good paying jobs and economic growth that never materializes.

In this election year we should remember that there is no knight in glorious shining armor riding a charging steed with a flowing mane coming to save us as if in a fairy tale.

If you want to know who will be called on to move America forward, look in the mirror.

So here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week and it is from John F. Kennedy first and only Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961.

“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man”.

We have been summoned before the bar of history with a tribunal of our ancestors sitting in judgment of how we have met our challenges.

Our ancestors are currently in deliberations and as of now they have not reached a judgment in our case.

There is time to rise up and meet our challenges as past generations have.

But that will require us to get serious and not retreat into the world of phone apps, video games, sports and escapist cable TV entertainment and think that solving problems is someone else’s job.

And we’d better get started double quick lest the judgment of history condemns us to the fate of other nations that have risen and fallen leaving only ruins for future archaeologists to dig up.

It’s time to slap some bacon on a biscuit, take a long slug of   hot black coffee, swing a leg over the saddle and head out to meet the day.

We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re burnin’ daylight.