Remembering America...Looking Back at the Last Innocent Age
A year has passed since I sat down at a Panera on a gloomy Saturday morning in May, in Franklin, TN. and uploaded this book to the publishing world. A long, grinding, difficult, heartbreaking year. So much has happened in that span. So many tears and so many smiles. Along the way, I learned some things.
I learned how broken we are as a country, as a people. Our spirits are bent, our pockets are empty and our dreams have been replaced with the relentless, harsh minutiae of merely surviving. Surviving policy that chokes off industry and eventually, kills personal achievement. Surviving the cold grip of isolation we feel more and more each day, even as the internet shrinks the world to fit on a fourteen inch computer screen, or a cell phone display no bigger than a credit card.
We can find out anything we want to about anyone we wish...but we don’t really take the time to know anyone anymore. That has made us angry, short tempered, volatile and exhausted. We left something very important behind when we turned the page on the innocence of the world I wrote about in this book. And we are very, very much worse off for it.
We have a government that has gone from being big, lethargic, and difficult, to being an industry all it’s own, with a language all it’s own, answering to no one. We the people have been usurped by Me...the ruler. That’s dangerous. That’s frightening.
That’s not America.
I never wrote this book intending to make a political statement. It wasn't necessary and the stories weren't about politics. But they are about Americanism. They are about Patriotism as a way of life, and respect for our heritage and our history and for each other. They are stories about personal greatness, and drive and ambition and desire and none of those things being frowned upon as something bad. They were celebrated as the very things that made us great. Really, truly, great.
We have removed God not only from schools, but from the lexicon, the public square, and even the sale papers at Christmas. And why? This nation was founded by Christians, upon Christian principles, with Christian ideals, and the goal of allowing all to live here but recognizing what the Founders saw as the superiority of Christianity. We were never a “Christian Nation,” not in the model of a Theocracy, but we were definitely intended to be a predominantly Christian society. We have killed that, and condemned it’s remnants to the scrap heap. Are we better for it?
Are we better for political correctness or are we more divided? When we strip one group of their right to believe and practice their heritage, and do it in the name of “tolerance” aren't we then being intolerant of that group? When we label every single word we disagree with as “hate” we find ourselves isolated and surrounded only by those who think exactly like we do. That’s tragic.
Kids are being bullied at a record clip, and the answer is, sadly, more and more kids being pushed to the brink and responding with a gun or a knife. Why? Because political correctness has stripped bare the natural response to “teach a bully a lesson” behind the school yard, or in the bathroom at school. I did it. You did it. In another time in this country, that was part of moving from boy to man, and in almost every case, the two protagonists wound up becoming lifelong friends. Not anymore. Now we press charges, teach anti-bullying classes and merely supress the anger deeper into the psyche of the parties involved.
Somehow, in the years since the Innocent Age ended, we have attached shame to success, derision to diligence, and we've come to view fierce independence and something akin to madness. Entitlement has stripped us of the rock-ribbed determination to succeed -and succeed our way- that brought this country the greatness she enjoyed. Why? What is so intrinsically evil about a man refusing a handout and standing on his own, facing the winds of difficulty, and digging in to make another go of it?
Not every discovery in this past year has been bad. I am homeless again. The house I was renting was sold and this economy still won’t bend enough to let me get back on my feet. But I learned how much I can take in the name of loving my daughter and staying in her life. And it’s a lot. I learned that a real man doesn't look for a handout as much as he looks for another deck to build, or a wall to paint, or a room to remodel. So he does those things and keeps pushing forward...most of the time through tears and sweat and the fear of defeat.
I also learned one very sweet lesson, about the power of words and memories. About a month after releasing this book, I sent a copy to Mrs. Messick, Sheila's mom, whom I describe in the opening chapter and whose death inspired, in many ways, the memories of Monroe Avenue and the joys we all shared. I had not talked to Mrs. Messick in a couple of years. It was wonderful as we spoke for an hour or so about the stories in the book, and the times our families had shared. There was laughter, joy, and a few tears. Laughter made the still-fresh pain of losing Sheila just a little more tolerable, if only for a moment. And that was enough.
I want my daughter to have a chance at this world. What will that take? I think it will take a return to God, to Patriotism, to Americanism, and to a place where we once again force the leaders we elect to feel responsible to us, and not to themselves and their self-interests. Can we do it? I don’t know. But if you’ve read this far...you know that it’s worth the effort.
God Bless America.