by Jayne Friedman, ©2021
(Apr. 23, 2021) — It’s a frigid winter night. The wind howls just outside the front door. My grandfather and I sit in a small room we built to contain the heat in winter. We eat popcorn next to a roaring fire. The pop of kernels and the little explosions of red embers keep us warm and engaged. Our smart meters, scheduled by the gas and electric monopoly, are set to shut off the heat at 8 pm to preserve energy. America needs to preserve energy even while all other nations use it freely. We are told through Public Service Announcements that the Green New Deal is “fair” and that we “are all in this together.” Ever since Republicans were edited out of holding office and America has been in the iron grip of Democrat Socialists, we all share equally in group misery. I asked my grandfather, “What was America like before Democrats ruled us?”
A Shining City on the Hill
We can travel by time capsule way, way back to 1630 when John Winthrop delivered a sermon aboard his flagship, Arbella. Governor Winthrop arrived here in Salem, Massachusetts along with the Puritans. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts had been legally established. And in that sermon, John Winthrop proudly proclaimed that “we shall be as a city upon a hill.” People forgot those birth words, as years went by, until, that is, along came a much-loved president named Ronald Reagan who used those words to explain to the American people what American exceptionalism was all about.
Reagan explained “that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage.”
“Grandpa,” I asked, “what happened? Are we still a shining city on a hill?”
Adrift from our Moorings
“Not in the way Governor John Winthrop envisioned this new country to be,” my grandfather explained. “The Puritans held fiercely to a principle of powerful commonality. They followed their beliefs together, sharing a universal dedication to their cause, plan, purpose and devotion.”
“Back then, society was like one organization divided into varying roles but everyone worked toward a specific purpose. It may have been like growing and harvesting enough food to get everyone well fed throughout the winters. Today, we are a collection of individuals who have individual goals like becoming a famous athlete, a president or deep-sea fortune hunter. The Puritan community was successful. They worshiped God. They created unimaginable wealth for themselves. But prosperity and success blinded them by blurring the rewards of their hard work and their original purpose. Instead, they found affluence and status.”
Time Capsule 1950s
The Puritans’ laboratory of success and then failure would be an omen for the future in America. Most of the 1950s America was free from war and hungry for some normalcy. Americans were enjoying unexpected wealth and power. People were buying their own homes with – driveways, garages and back yards! We had the world’s strongest military, a booming economy, a flourishing suburbia, new cars and consumer goods available to more people than ever before. And we had a population explosion called the baby boom.
Did you know that about 4 million babies were born each year in the 50’s? Americans finally felt secure that their country offered nothing but a bright future for their children.
A space alien would have seen prosperity, wealth, booming industry and a successful economy, but looming just around the corner was the turbulent 1960s, with the advent of the Feminist Movement, the Black Power Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of four iconic leaders – President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy – as well as the issue that ripped our country apart – the Vietnam War.
Why Couldn’t Anybody Save Us, Grandpa?
“Because,” Grandpa said, “sometimes the melting pot bubbles over. Yes, we are a melting pot. We are a diverse people. Most everyone has the opportunity to flourish. But under one-party rule,” he continued, “some obstacles become greater. Not greater than the Great Depression that my father faced, or than World War II, but still difficult.”
“You need to do some hard work and face down these obstacles,” he said, “in order to persevere and seize back control from the dictators in your midst.”
Grandpa continued: “Some take government subsidies and then the government controls your destiny. If you want to control your own future, stay away from government handouts. And don’t forget: What government gives, government can and often does take back.”
A Benevolent Government
“Some people, as a result of illness, injury, and/or bona fide hard times are unable to succeed. A benevolent government helps those in our society who simply cannot care for themselves. That is called compassion. But that government subsidy was never meant for able-bodied people to use as their own personal hammock.”
“How did we get this way?” I asked.
It’s Complicated – Back to Time Capsule
Back in the 50s prosperity, good-paying jobs, belief in God, hard work and loyalty to one’s country was the American rhythm. The ‘60’s woke us from a dream state. We ushered in the decade with the first president born in the 20th century. But by the end of that decade, we saw those four assassinations that changed America forever. All those murders in cold blood happened in broad daylight. Riots and violence erupted. Young people felt misled and were now openly confronting a government they saw as their deceivers, not their leaders.
Music Cries Out
Music belted the outrage that many were now experiencing in America. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” was the protest song that an entire generation sang together. The song’s lyrics – “How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?” – reverberated throughout the country calling into question the racial disparity that was now glaringly evident. No one could be blind anymore.
Drugs and Numbness
A formerly obscure university professor and researcher, Timothy Leary, preached before young impressionable youth to “tune in and drop out.” He urged a generation to use psychedelic drugs and to play hooky from life. His drug of choice was LSD. He didn’t tell his faithful that it could also cause brain damage.
I am Woman, Hear Me Roar
In the 60s, women wanted equality with men. They wanted careers, opportunities and pay that was on par with men’s salaries. The 1964 Civil Rights Act guaranteed equal treatment for all groups, including women. Activists, however, thought that was inadequate and birthed the National Organization for Women (NOW). Today there is still active debate as to whether this helped or hurt women and the family.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how,’” wrote psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl, quoting Friedrich Nietzsche
“I’m in my September years,” my grandfather said, “but I want to ask you a question. What do you see as your reason for being here on earth? Everyone needs to know why they are here. It could be something as noble as finding a cure for cancer. It could be something adventurous as visiting Mars. It could be something as everyday as wanting to watch your children grow up. It could be something as patriotic as Make America Great Again. When you discover your why,” he continued, “ask yourself what you are willing to go through and/or give up to achieve that goal. Our Founders were willing to die for this shining city on the hill. Only you can decide what your why is and only you can decide what you will allow to defeat that goal.”
Jayne Friedman, a native New Yorker who now lives in Cave Creek, Arizona, is a Range Safety Officer and a National Rifle Association certified pistol instructor. She teaches firearm skills to former victims of crimes as well as those interested in their personal defense. Jayne began political activism in 2010. The formation of the Tea Party galvanized her passionate conviction to conservative ideals and policies. As a lifelong writer, she focused her goal on writing political commentary primarily on social media. She is now sharing her insights with a wider audience. Jayne can be reached at JayneFriedman@protonmail.com