Hopefully readers of this blog (all 3 of you!) have noticed that I never bash individual policy-makers or politicians. Rather, I attempt to focus on the principles involved. This has been intentional, because our problems are bigger than personalities, and our malaise is beyond the reach of political messiahs (whether of the Bush or Obama variety).
I believe many of the problems with the United States today stem from the fact that she has forgotten her roots. It was once a country in love with the idea of liberty. Individuals and freedom were the centerpiece of an experiment in government unlike anything before. The principles of liberty and freedom were what was celebrated, not the STATE itself. But today, we have it backwards. We celebrate the STATE, and think that it is the source of our freedom. We talk about having Czars for this and Czars for that, we create enormous bureaucratic DEPARTMENTS to solve our problems, and we expect THE GOVERNMENT to predominate in all our affairs. The rest of the world has gotten it confused, too. They take the bullying, brash, arrogant, ruthless tactics of our government in world affairs and think, "THAT IS AMERICA."
This all represents a tragic shift in thinking.
We the People are America; not our government.
There is something that demonstrates this symbolically: U.S. coinage. Leaving aside, for the moment, that U.S. coins used to contain precious metals and therefore were valuable in and of themselves, today's "arcade tokens" that serve as our coins also have another major difference, and that difference is quite telling. The early American coins featured Liberty as a beautifully-clad woman strolling confidently and carrying symbols of peace and prosperity. Torches of freedom and symbols of liberty were widely employed. It was as if the focus was on the principles of freedom, not the figureheads of power. We had our Washingtons and our Jeffersons, to be sure, but their likenesses weren't dominant on our coins like a Caesar in all his omnipotent power. No. Lady Liberty got the predominance; she was the focus.
Today that has all changed. Our coins seem to celebrate the STATE, and feature former politicians as the enshrined masters of power. Washington and Jefferson would probably blush, if not blanch in anger. Worse, however, is the bizarre symbolism on our paper currency. Secret society markings and strange sayings are strangely prevalent. Conspiracy theorists run rampant with these, but at the very least, these symbols do not promote freedom and liberty. And at the worst . . . ?
Where has the love of liberty gone?
Why have we left her?
Have we prospered so much we have forgotten it was our freedom which enabled our abundance?
Ronald Reagan famously quipped, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." If the symbols of America accurately reflect the change in thought, understanding, and allegiance of the American people, we may be close to finding out if Reagan was right.
(click on photos to enlarge)