Friday, March 16, 2007

What Price, Our Freedom?

In 1796, a fledgling nation was wrought with disagreements over the role of government, issues of domestic policy and factionalization over foreign policy. All of this was offset by the nation's determination to become a world power and preserve the peace. Thus, the stage was set for President George Washington to leave office with words of advice to the nation. In his farewell address, Washington wished to instill what it meant to be an American patriot and a member of a common nation. He warned against being swayed by those who would attempt to take away those shared traits, both internally and externally. In the same speech, Washington warned against two other enemies of the nation: partisanship in deciding national issues and entangling alliances. He called for the nation to put aside party politics and unite for the common good, wholly free of foreign influence. He went further by stating that the United States should concentrate only on American interests, acting "for ourselves and not for others." While necessary for the country to be friendly and open in commerce to all nations, he felt the country should avoid long-term alliances that went against the interests of the United States.

In all his foresight, what Washington saw as potential trouble for the nation has steadily become one. The United States has forgotten its fundamentals, its culture, and its history. Style points rather than substance of statement dictate debate, while policy decisions are seen by some as a multilateral round table rather than what is in the best interest of the nation. Our leaders should guide, control, and appease with no favoritism, without coddling to the whims of those who do not share our national interests. A leader unites all, whether they want to or not, and ends bitter partisanship. Most of all, a leader shows strength in the face of insurmountable odds, while pursuing a course of peace with all nations – even if the path to such means the use of arms and unpopular decisions.

The problems of the nation, and the world, will take more than one generation to fix. It will also take leaders with strength of heart, resolve, and purpose. Twenty-four hour news coverage continually shows a world on the verge of destruction, and it washed up on our shores on September 11, 2001. Ironically, it did not come from two Super Powers playing a chess match on a world map, but from small-minded lunatics with a death wish. The world has become a dangerous place, but only because of those who shirked the opportunity to make it otherwise. We must not stand with just a strong voice, but with a united front against those who oppose the fundamental principles of this nation. Throughout the world, change often comes from the barrel of a gun or an explosives-laden car. We as a nation should be grateful that we do not live under such conditions. To ensure a peaceful future, our main goal should be the spread of such values to those parts of the world living in turmoil and terror. Otherwise, the lives of those who have fought and died for such will have been in vain.

©2007 Steve Sagarra