What’s Right About America this Fourth of July

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This article is a reflection on Fourth of July, and specifically about what’s right about America as we celebrate national independence. But the ideas for it actually began taking shape this past Memorial Day weekend. And perhaps that’s fitting as well.

It was the Sunday just before Memorial Day. My wife had gotten off work early, and texted me on the ride home – “Let’s go to the beach!” I was wrapping up my last writing assignment for the day, it was a beautiful afternoon, and it seemed like the thing to do.

What’s Right About America this Fourth of July
What’s Right About America this Fourth of July

There’s something exhilarating all by itself about simply driving to the beach. Once there, we enjoyed a seafood dinner on the second-floor outdoor deck of a restaurant overlooking the beach and the ocean. The sounds of the waves hitting the beach, the screeches of sea gulls, and music from a two-piece band on the third-floor deck above provided a magical sound experience.

After dinner, we visited some shops along the boardwalk, taking in the throngs of people doing the same. We then wandered over to a free outdoor concert that would be followed by a free fireworks display. (In case you’re wondering why we didn’t go for a swim, it’s a Northern New England beach, and won’t be warm enough for swimming until the middle of July at best.)

Taking in all that was around – the music from the concert band, the chattering of the crowds of people, the sea gulls overhead, the crashing of the waves in the distance, the gentle breeze coming off the ocean, and the clear but salty scents drifting through the air with it – I realized this was one of those special, spontaneous moments in life, where you come face-to-face with the reality that alas, life is good!

The Special Moment that Produced Some Revelations

Now I didn’t say “life is perfect”, because that would be a gross exaggeration. Like every other year in my life, 2019 has been a year of ups and downs. On the downside, earlier this year we lost my mom and my closest aunt, eight days apart. More recently, both our kids moved out within 30 days of each other. There were some other sundry negative events I can hardly recall, but 2019 has been a hard year to take, and it’s only half over.

But while I was enjoying the concert at the beach, I reflected on other things that happened this year as well. Back in March, my wife and I took a trip to the Bahamas to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I was thankful for the trip and for the blessing of a successful marriage.

And though our kids were moving out, it’s a proud parent moment as well as an emotionally difficult one. After all, moving out is what adult kids are supposed to do. And as a result of them moving out, my wife and I bought a new used car (we don’t buy brand new cars anymore), a Toyota Rav4 that we absolutely love.

I was thinking of all that, along with the fact that we live not 40 minutes from the beach, that we live in a place we’ve specifically chosen, and that we both do work that we love.

Those many positive realizations got me to consider what’s right about America. Sure, there’s a lot wrong – and I discuss it often on this website. And while the grace of Almighty God and personal effort and determination certainly figure in the mix, so does the country where this is possible.

America certainly isn’t the only country in the world where so many good things can happen in a person’s life. But there are many more places where it’s unlikely to happen at all.

And that’s the part of America worth celebrating.

What’s Right About America this Fourth of July

Before getting into any of what’s good, let’s first list what’s not right about America this Fourth of July:

The purpose of this list of ills isn’t to give “equal time” to what troubles us. Rather it’s to emphasize how blessed and fortunate we are to live as well as we do despite the troubles that surround us. That’s the deepest revelation I had on that over-crowded evening at the beach that Sunday night before Memorial Day.

With that in mind, what’s right about America this Fourth of July? I came up with 16 “rights” – feel free to add more in the comments section.

1. We’re Still Free to Do What We Want on Any Given Day

At the beginning of this article I described how my wife texted me on the way home from work about going to the beach. It may seem like a small thing – so normal we don’t really think about it – but it’s more important than we realize.

Whether the reasons for that flexibility are personal, political, or legal, the reality is here in America we have a large measure of control over what we do each day. Whether that’s what we do in our occupations, or what we do in our spare time, it’s a freedom we don’t often appreciate. At least some element of each day is a blank canvas waiting for us to paint it.

2. We Can Choose Where We Live

America is one of the most geographically mobile societies in the world, with about 24% of the adult population moving each year.

Sometimes that’s done out of necessity, like following a job or moving closer to an ailing relative. But many times, it’s done by choice. My wife and I moved from New Jersey to Georgia, then from Georgia to New Hampshire. Both moves were made based on personal choice.

People do it all the time, like moving to a favorite beach or lake, or relocating for retirement. In much of the world, people live in the same town they grew up in all their lives. Often, for one reason or another, there’s simply no escape. We don’t usually have that constraint.

3. We Can Choose the Work We Do

The American employment scene often seems chaotic. And to be sure, millions of people are trapped somewhere in the dark crevices. But while the chaos creates employment traps, it also creates opportunities. Millions of people make intentional career choices each year, whether it’s to change jobs or change occupations. That’s a freedom most of us don’t fully appreciate, and not enough take full advantage of.

My wife and I have. We decided if we have to work all our lives, we’re going to do work we like. My wife works in the jewelry industry, because that’s her passion in life. After a lifetime career in banking, she made the change into jewelry on almost what seemed to be a whim. It’s turned out to be better than we ever expected.

Facing a career crisis more than a decade ago, I made a choice to go into blogging and eventually freelance blog writing. On the surface, a move like that looks like a flight of fancy. But I now earn more money – and enjoy more freedom and flexibility – than I have in any other career or job I’ve ever held. I have no background in either, but just made a choice and followed it through relentlessly.

If we lived in a Third World country, those kinds of choices might not exist. And that’s what we need to celebrate as Americans.

4. We Can Travel Throughout the Country and Even Outside the Country

Travel was once a privilege reserved for the wealthy. But today, even the middle class travels, whether domestically or internationally.

We certainly have the freedom to do so, but that choice is supported by an excellent network of interstate highways and affordable air travel. When I was a kid, most people might’ve flown once in their lives. Today, it’s not unusual for some the fly several times each year.

A lot of times we get caught up in the jealousy game with others who travel a lot, and we don’t. But even if you don’t travel much, the ability to do so is a freedom and a blessing, and one that should never be overlooked.

5. We Can Own Stuff that Makes Us Feel Good

I’m not much of a “stuff” person.  And over-consumption and conspicuous consumption are often seen as some sort of social disease. That’s not without merit, but it also overlooks the more basic reality. We’re able to buy anything we can afford, and millions even buy what they can’t afford by using credit. That’s certainly a trap, but it’s also a form of freedom. Most of us can buy the things we need, and many of the things we want. Have you ever reflected on that?

6. We Still Have Freedom to Worship

As a Bible believing Christian, this one is especially important to me. We don’t have the freedom we once had in this area. As more people in America become “non-religious”, people of faith are more likely to be ridiculed, openly challenged, and even attacked. (Recall the South Carolina church shooting and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting; ridicule has a way of escalating into violence.)

Yet despite the increasing challenges to people of faith, on any given day we’re free to pray and worship as we like, and meet and exchange with other believers. We can even make financial contributions to our houses of worship. That freedom is still worth celebrating.

7. We Have More Savings and Investment Options than Ever Before

The average, ordinary American today has more investment options available than even the wealthy had 50 or 100 years ago.

Whether you invest in any of the following or not, think about the value of having so many options:

  • Online investing
  • Discount brokerages
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Mutual funds, enabling you to invest in hundreds of companies with just a few thousand dollars.
  • Exchange traded funds (ETFs), enabling you to invest in hundreds of companies with just a few hundred dollars.
  • Robo-advisors
  • Online banking, enabling you to invest with banks across the country.
  • Precious metals
  • Commodities
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Foreign exchange
  • Fractional shares investing, enabling you to invest in dozens of companies with just a few dollars.
  • Real estate
  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs), enabling you to invest in a portfolio of commercial real estate with just a few thousand dollars.

Collectively, this means you can build a portfolio of diversified investments with just a few thousand dollars. Through these vehicles and innovations, we can even invest in foreign assets, like stocks, funds and real estate.

The fact that this level of investing options has become so common as to be under-appreciated attests to its value.

None of them guarantees investment success, but collectively they do give us opportunities ordinary people have never known in history, and still don’t in much of the world. Much of it has come about through technology, particularly the Internet. But in general, the federal government has been extremely accommodating in this area, even encouraging investment activity through tax-sheltered retirement plans and lower tax rates on long-term capital gains.

8. There Are No Debtor’s Prisons

Debtors prisons were common throughout thousands of years of human history. They were officially abolished in the US by the middle of the 19th century (though they are making something of a comeback through the “backdoor”).

In a nation where so many are so deep in debt, and many are having difficulty servicing those debts, we should all be relieved that debtor’s prisons are no longer common. (And we should be vigilant to make sure they aren’t.)

9. We Have Access to Some of the Best Medical Treatment in the World

I’ve devoted a lot of ink on this website to discussing the ills of the American healthcare system. But it’s also true that it’s produced some of the most advanced lifesaving treatments in human history. Yes, it sucks when we’re paying those insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. But it feels oh so good when we or a loved one successfully dodge a healthcare bullet because of it.

The current system is in desperate need of a complete overhaul. But let’s enjoy the benefits it produces in the meantime. They’re real, even if they’re often exaggerated.

10. We Can Be Friends with Whoever We Want

I grew up in a well-to-do suburban community located 23 miles west of Midtown Manhattan. By all external accounts, it was an idyllic place to live. But back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was undeniable that racism played a serious role in the community’s growth. Many of the residents were “refugees” from New York City or other urban areas in New Jersey.

Racist attitudes and commentary were “normal”. I can fully appreciate when people today make racist comments and follow them up by saying “I’m sorry, that was my father talking”. To his credit, my own father was much less of a racist than his peers. But I can’t say the same for most of the adults in my hometown. There was little doubt that there was a pervasive culture of racism.

In my own experience, far fewer white people today are anywhere near as racist as was the case 40 or 50 years ago. I’m not so naïve to believe that racism has been eliminated from our culture, but I am confident that it’s less a factor today than it was when I was growing up.

Today, we can – and often are – friends with people of other races and ethnic backgrounds. Racial intermarriage – unthinkable when I was a kid – is more common today than at any time in American history.

The point is, today we’re free to be friends with whoever we want. That’s a major advantage because life is richer when we welcome others into our lives who come from more diverse backgrounds.

And apart from race, the Internet has given us the ability to interact with people beyond our own communities, and even around the world. That’s a form of freedom we don’t always fully appreciate, and it benefits us all.

11. There’s Still Plenty of Free and Low Cost Ways to Entertain Ourselves

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that our trip to the beach last Memorial Day weekend included a free concert and free fireworks. While there’s little doubt that higher end entertainment activities, like concerts, sporting events, and Broadway plays, have gotten out of financial reach of the majority of Americans, there are still plenty of free and low-cost ways to entertain ourselves.

My wife and I will often take a drive to the beach, up to the mountains, out to the countryside to visit farms, or to visit local historic towns. Sometimes we head downtown at night, to take in free concerts and have a drink at a favorite bar (as in one drink – neither of us are serious drinkers).

The point is, there’s plenty to do to entertain yourself that doesn’t involve spending a lot of money. But so many are so focused on following their favorite professional sports teams, going to concerts to see top name bands, or partaking in the latest techno-experience, that money eventually becomes a problem.

The good news is that we have the freedom to do both – to immerse ourselves in gold-plated entertainment, or to pursue less expensive alternatives. There are still plenty of those alternatives, so we all have a choice.

12. We Have More Communication Options Than Ever Before

Communicating by cell phone, email and live chat have become so common that we think of them like air and water. We even dare to criticize them – all while we fully immerse ourselves in them.

No doubt, being constantly connected is a negative. But we don’t have to go there either. We can choose to use communication technology for our own benefit, without letting it control our lives.

Living in what may be the most “connected” country in the world is something to be celebrated. And we’re free to decide whether we’ll use that benefit as a tool, or allow it to become a master.

13. We Can Buy Just About Anything from Just About Anywhere in the World

I don’t know about you, but I’m always mesmerized at the choices we have when it comes time to buy something. We can buy a widget at a high end retailer for “snob appeal”. But we can pay less at a big box retailer, and even less by buying online.

We also have the benefit of being able to buy products from all over the world. Once again, that’s a privilege once reserved for the wealthy. In our world today, shopping is basically borderless. We can choose a specific product – or the cheapest one – whether it’s made in America, China, Korea, Brazil or Canada.

We can bemoan the ills of globalism and foreign competition, but at the same time it’s combined to create a world of unlimited options. In general, I think there’s more good than bad in that mix.

14. More Food than We Can Ever Eat

Few people in Western civilization, and certainly here in America, ever contemplate the massive food advantage we have. But hundreds of millions around the world live on the edge of starvation, and many more live with the perpetual uncertainty of where their next meal is coming from.

It’s not just the amount of food we have available in America. Anytime I go grocery shopping, or even flip through a grocery store flyer, I’m amazed at the variety of foods we can buy. Unlimited meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and even those favorite culinary demons, processed foods, are widely available. At the deli counter alone, there are at least 50 meats and cheeses to choose from. And if we don’t feel like preparing meals at home, we have a choice of scores of restaurants in our communities, at all price levels.

Throughout much of human history, and still in much of the world, finding or producing enough food has been a perpetual struggle. Sure, we all wish food prices were lower. But closer to the truth is that we don’t deal with anywhere near the food insecurity that people thoughout history have, and many around the world still do.

15. Cutting Edge Technology

It often seems as if Americans are obsessed with technology, and there’s more than a grain of truth to that. Much of it is only of marginal value, and some of it seems to be aimed more at vanity than anything practical.

But the point is, America remains the cradle of technology. That technology may be manufactured in China, but it originates and is designed here in America. Even if you hate technology, you have to acknowledge the benefits it provides through the Internet, online investing, electronic money transfers, cell phones, and cable TV. And many of us even make a living as a result of that technology.

The spread of technology is not without its problems, but I for one see it primarily as a blessing. How we use it may be the real problem, and that’s no one’s fault but ours.

16. Nearly Unlimited Entertainment

I saved this one for last because it really is a mixed blessing. While we may think of entertainment as frivolous, it serves an important function in human life. It serves to distract us from the day-to-day stresses of living, as well as the crises we face from time to time. Living a happy life is mostly about balancing out the good and the bad. Entertainment helps us to do that.

And it often seems we have unlimited entertainment. TV is perhaps the most basic form of entertainment. With streaming services, we can watch just about any movie or TV program we want, at any time.

But there’s also radio, CDs, the Internet (accessed by both home computers and smart phones), and the oft-mentioned staples of sports, concerts, live theater and travel.

The point is, we’re blessed (or cursed) to have virtually unlimited entertainment. And it’s available on a 24/7 basis. Like anything else, too much is detrimental. But we have control over exactly how much we take in, and what.

Once again, it’s that freedom of choice thing. And in America, we have that in almost every facet of life.

These Are All Gifts We Need to Seriously Embrace and Preserve

After devoting more than 3,000 words to what’s right about America this Fourth of July, I also want to add a warning – it could all slip away.

It’s often said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance (or isn’t free)”. That statement is sometimes attributed to Thomas Jefferson, though the exact source is actually unknown. But many people today use that statement in support of foreign warfare. In truth, it relates more to a free people properly valuing their freedom, and defending it from encroachment by domestic sources.

We still enjoy an incredible number of freedoms in America. But there’s no question many of those freedoms are under assault. For example, we routinely submit ourselves to constant surveillance, all in the name of security. Both freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under assault because someone somewhere is “offended” by what another says or believes. Think about the number of people in the public eye who have seen their careers destroyed simply for saying the wrong thing.

When I was young, I often heard the phrase “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”. That concept is nearly dead in America today, and its death comes with serious consequences. It removes the right to disagree, and that’s truly the beginning of the end.

Don’t Be So Willing to Trade Your Freedom for the False god of Security

We’re willingly surrendering freedoms – if only gradually – to satisfy the god of security. Or in exchange for the “right” to not be offended.

A famous Bible passage illustrates the consequences of trading the long-term good for a short-term benefit:

“ Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” – Genesis 25:29-34 (NIV)

As Americans, we’re increasingly are willing to trade a birthright of freedom for a rising measure of security, putting all freedoms we enjoy at risk in the process. The slow nature of the erosion of those freedoms makes their disappearance seem invisible.

But here’s a quote no freedom-loving American should dismiss lightly:

“The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people. His servitude is strictly objective.” – Aldous Huxley

Final Thoughts on What’s Right About America this Fourth of July

My hope is that you’ll carefully consider and embrace the 16 freedoms I’ve listed in this article. And with an election year before us, and the many empty promises that will come with it, don’t be so willing to give up your right to choose to live life on your own terms in exchange for the promise of a security that doesn’t exist this side of Heaven.

The future of freedom in America depends on us being alert, and making the right choices. Not just in who we vote for, but also in how we live, what we support, and what we oppose.

( Photo by Phil Roeder )

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24 Responses to What’s Right About America this Fourth of July

  1. So I have one.
    It’s amazing because I am so disappointed in us as a country and where it has gone.
    I actually have become quite uncomfortable living here. I spend at least nine hours a week in Canada. My golf club is there. I just feel different when I am in a different country. I find myself going over there as much as possible.

    However, one of the things that I am still very happy about is that we have never had a major war on the shores of this country. In my lifetime.
    Yes, we had 9/11 and a civil war and a few others.
    I look at the images on TV of destroyed countries and millions of people forced to flee these areas and it makes me grateful I have never had to do that.
    It makes me sick that we are responsible for some of it. I can only think that it’s only a matter of time before we a forced to answer for a lot of this.
    But for now it is still good.

    So this is one thing I am thankful for and something that is still good about living here.

  2. I say that also, my mother in law fled a war torn country in the early 70’s. She misses here home but would never go back.
    She arrived here with nothing. Just the clothes on her back. Could not speak the lingo. Had no idea where she was.
    I can’t imagine that.

    It ripped her family apart and scattered them all over the world. Some never saw each other again, to this day.

    So that is something we should all be grateful for. That we have never had to do this.
    That is something good about being here.

  3. That’s no small advantage Tim. In some countries, like Israel, Lebanon and others the threat of war is constant, and in personal memory. Others, like the eastern European countries have served as battlegrounds in the two world wars and many others. The prospect of war is never so remote as to be ignored. France is often derided for surrendering against the German advance in WW2, but when you consider the destruction of the country and the loss of life they experienced in WW1 it was a smart strategy. It’s probably the main reason Paris managed to preserve its historic buildings. It’s really too bad about the Cathedral of Notre Dame burned.

  4. To your second comment, my uncle left Greece for the US in 1954. He never went back. In February I asked him if he ever thought about going back or wanted to. His answer was an absolute NO. Back in the 1970s, when he needed to bring his mother here from Greece, he sent his younger brother to get her. He fought in the Greek civil war, so it’s all a matter of your perspective. I have a friend from Mexico, same thing. He goes back to visit, but he has no intention of ever moving back. And Mexico doesn’t even have the war problem.

  5. We have been very blessed here, not to have to deal with that. My mother in law is from Lebanon. The country is good now but there is always a feeling of, that won’t last.

    There is to much destruction. I don’t blame them ( France ) for doing that. Nobody really wins. Even when you win you loose. Loss of life and soldiers who are ruined for life by physical or mental problems. For what?
    Other countries who are destroyed and never the same.

    America is very blessed this way.

  6. Yes, her and I have a different perspective. She doesn’t care what happens here. It’s still better than where she was.
    A lot of her family is still there. She talks daily on the phone with them but she would never go back to live. She’s been back there but once she is there it takes about a week and she wants to go.
    She just doesn’t trust the country.

    I try and keep this in mind but I grew up here. I was a kid when I consider America still awesome to be in. I don’t really share that feeling anymore.
    It’s not so much the country itself but the people in it. I hate political correctness. You can’t pass laws into forcing people to think or act or talk in certain ways. Making it almost a crime.

    My son is 11. He goes to school with all different races. On stupid dare from his classmates, he made a stupid race joke on a piece of paper. Granted, the people that dared him where mostly black.
    The school saw it, suspended him and called the police. Citing racial hatred and hate crimes. He’s 11!!!!!!
    Yes, it was stupid and he has been punished. Lucky cooler heads prevailed and he had to take the week.

    This is what we have become.

    So, I’m sorry but it is tough for me right now to find much good in this country right now.

    I’m happy about the war thing but not much else.

  7. I’ll say more on this. It was a piece of paper cut into ticket form, that said this allows you to say the N word one time for free.
    All his classmates had them. Black, white, spanish. They all thought it was funny.
    That is until the school wanted to have a GD 11 year old arrested for a hate crime?

    This was the start. It was a living hell the last month a school dealing with these people.

  8. I’m happy with everything I listed in the article. But I get what you’re saying. A few years ago, the daughter of friends of ours, then a freshman in high school, got into a pushing and shoving match with another girl in the hallway at school. Our friends were summoned into the principal’s office, and warned that her behavior constituted – get this – a terrorist act.

    One of the worst aspects of life in America today is that we hang labels on everything and everybody. The purpose is to assign people and events into specific groups, and then to marginalize them. Even inferring a pushing and shoving match is a potential act of terrorism is downright childish. That it was inferred by school authorities makes it downright shameful. But the labeling crowd have moved miles away from shame. They just keep looking for more labels to hang so they can blame.

    This is why, while this article is positive in its general direction, I included the warning at the very end. It’s very true, everything we know and love can easily slip away. It’s already happening, but mostly at the fringes, and always just under the radar. We have to be aware, and resist it.

  9. Easier said than done. It’s pretty hard when your standing in front of ten people who are calling your kid a hate monger to resist it.
    It was crazy and shameful and embarrassing. I felt sad for them. they were unable to think for themselves.
    They basically were reading off a piece of paper that was giving to them as to what to say and how to act.

    I understand what you said above. Yes, there are still good things but I do not share your hope.
    It’s already gone.

    My son was at a loss and could not understand the reaction. I had to sit down and explain it to him. He had no idea.
    I’m not saying what he did was good or right but the complete overblown reaction was shameful.
    They wouldn’t let him back in without counseling. The first thing the counsel person wanted to do was put him on meds? I walked out and he is no longer attending that school. They were offended when I did it also. They were offended?

    So, yes you can talk about the good, but it’s over. We are pretty far gone as a people.
    Anyway I’m getting on a tangent.

    Happy 4th. Go to the beach, LOL

  10. I actually fully understand. In my son’s senior year in high school he was implemented in a bomb threat – because he was in the bathroom (not in his classroom) at the time the threat allegedly took place. He was grilled by the principal and the police as if he did it. They were essentially accusing him of a crime, but he was not given access to an attorney. (Under Georgia law, a minor is not entitled to an attorney, apparently.) It turned out to be a prank and the whole thing blew over. But the possibilities there were serious.

    My point with the article though is that even though things are getting worse, there’s still a lot to enjoy and celebrate – while it lasts. But people have become so sensitive and paranoid, and do desiring of being taken care of by the nanny state, that the cooler heads that prevailed in most of our history seem to have gone AWOL. I often think about how Prohibition was repealed in 1933 after 14 years of its existence proved it was a failure. We don’t repeal anything any more, we just add more crap and complication on top of the existing mess. I agree, dark clouds ahead. But since we’re all just passing through on this rock in space, I’m going to enjoy the good things wherever and whenever I can. It will help to offset some of the BS.

  11. It would be easier if it were my wife and I.
    I could do that. Right now because the kids are caught up in the system it’s pounds at my doorstep all the time
    He told me he wasn’t allowed to say Columbus day because it represents oppression and racism. They call it indigent people day. Good God.

    I hear you. Maybe this is a reason also the birthrate is down. Like your past article. Who needs the B.S. in there life that goes with it.
    You can’t raise kids anymore. The state says they are better at it than us

  12. All true, that’s why I’m glad mine are grown. We lived with similar threats all the while our kids were in school, especially my son. All political correctness aside, boys are targeted in the school system. It’s the anti-boys-will-be-boys movement and it’s incredibly pervasive. It’s as if the system is trying to get even for centuries of male dominance by marginalizing and even persecuting young boys. Fear of threats of sexual harassment has even been cited as a reason for declining marriage and child-bearing. Young men are afraid of being accused of misbehavior or even criminal activity for the normal guy-girl social interactions. I still try to steer my son into self-employment, since the corporate and government employment universe is mostly just an extension of the school system. Same crap, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

  13. Sounds like you two have had some exposure to individuals who are hypersensitive to everything, to put it mildly, but because we are here in the USA, we all have the right to remove ourselves from situations that are bothersome. I feel the frustration, that you Tim had to deal with at the school which apparently has drunk deeply in the Kool-aid of political correctness. You did the best thing by taking your child out of that school environment.
    As far as myself, speaking as a woman, I am glad to be here in the USA, where I have the right to say NO, I can vote, I can earn a good living if I fight for the right salary based on my job skills, I have the right to my own property and money, I don’t have to be married as proof of my existence. If I want to achieve something the only thing standing in my way is me.
    Yeah, there’s a whole lot of people in the USA, who think they’re privileged for what every reason, they dig up, but I also have the right to totally ignore their verbal abuse but I also have the right to protest and use the same laws they claim protects them to protect myself, because I am an American.

  14. Hi MariaRose – You’re pointing towards something that is frequently missing from the discussions, at least about women’s rights. Women do have more rights in America than in most of the world. I think most women properly celebrate that, but for some the women’s rights crusades have become an obsession. A lot of it has to do with personal promotion – gaining notoriety as a champion of a cause – or because they have an ax to grind on a very personal level (“I can’t get at the person who mistreated me, so I’m going to go after someone/everyone else”).

    This is of course an extreme example, but we have to wonder what motivated Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews. It was a case of a man with an ax to grind who eventually came to control a country, and executed millions of innocent people because of his own anger issues. Extremism in any form takes no prisoners.

    The more relevant issue we have to be concerned about is all these special interest groups advancing their own rights. If taken in isolation, there’s some justification behind each of the movements. The problem is where do “we” fit into the equation. It’s an example of the “me fixation” to the exclusion of all others. It doesn’t unite us toward common solutions, but divides us in such a way that each special interest group is working to feather their own nest. The country is degrading into a hodgepodge of special interests, while the whole concept of e pluribus unum – “out of many, one” is the ultimate casualty. It raises a serious question about the inclusion of the word “united” in United States of America. I think that whole concept has become superficial at best, as everyone tends to their own individual or group needs.

  15. Good points and I agree with you. Women have the same rights as anybody else here.
    However in this day and age too many women are using that as a weapon to demonize men.
    I agree Kevin, seems like most of the people we come in contact with in these systems spend there time and energy turning boys into girls.
    They expect them to act the same when they were clearly built different.
    I was in a grown up school. Sane crap with the political correctness. We had to sit through hours of classes on all this garbage.
    There are still good things here but they are getting harder and harder to see as time goes on

  16. BREAKING NEWS: Tim, one of the best – and undeniable – examples of what we we’re talking about here happened yesterday with Nike withdrawing the Betsy Ross flag sneakers because Colin Kaepernick said the Betsy Ross flag is offensive to African Americans, since it was the flag of a nation that supported slavery. It’s yet another example of how the I’m Offended movement is taking over our culture and restricting/reducing freedom. As we might expect, the media is falling all over themselves in support of the forced withdrawal of the sneaker line.

    I personally take offense to this, because while I fully supported Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem as a personal protest against a current law enforcement culture that targets African-Americans, I’m personally offended that his protest extends to denigrating a part of American history (the Betsy Ross flag, the first flag of the nation).

    This reminds me of David Hoog, the self-proclaimed leader of the Parkland school shooting episode, initially rallying people and the media to wake up and take notice of the carnage in schools. But he eventually extended to calling for boycotts of specific companies. His crusade seems to have run aground when he targeted Vanguard, a company millions of Americans invest through. But he’s still at it.

    The problem I have with both these individuals, as well as advocates of the “me too” movement, like Alyssa Milano, is that they take their cause too far. There’s a point at which a crusader can become a greater evil than the evil they’re attempting to stamp out. In the process, a lot of well-meaning people and organizations are discredited and destroyed. Your son was caught in the cross fire of that movement – and he’s only 11 years old! But that’s how extreme these crusades can get.

    It harkens back to the Salem witch trials. We all need to study that dark episode very carefully, because it highlights how personal opinions and biases destroy people’s lives, and even cost lives. Another example, though fictional, is the character of Chabert in Les Miserables (but as the saying goes, “art imitates life”). He dedicated his life to pursuing a single ultimately innocent man. But on one of his programs, Dr. Phil was coming down on a self-styled child abuse crusader. He described her actions metaphorically with the description, “When you’re a hammer, you see nails all over the place”.

    Unfortunately, this kind of mentality and activity is infecting our culture. The attempt is the overturn the culture and history, and even human systems and behaviors that have worked for centuries. The systems and behaviors may be flawed, but that’s a reflection of the flaws inherent in all human beings – including those who claim to be on the moral high ground.

    So your concerns are not without merit, and that’s what we need to be on guard against. But the go-along-to-get-along approach is gradually wearing our society down, neutering us, and turning us into sheep. We should all be concerned about that. If we’re not free to disagree, we’re not free at all.

  17. You guys make great points, especially the reference to weaponizing things as a method of kickback via social media. I thoroughly feel the #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter,#Feminsist,#LBGT, all movements, etc. have been abused to the radical extreme using the Free Speech Amendment to mean that they’re right but everyone else is wrong and it is perfectly okay to use violence against anyone who doesn’t agree with them. (my referral to drinking the Kool-aid) But I know that this too shall pass, based on historical trends, which is where our educational system has failed our younger generations. I purposely got out of teaching, despite being in a needed field of studies, because I couldn’t teach by developing my students’ thinking process but had to make them learn using rote learning instead. I got disciplined for getting the 6th-grade class with a reading level of 4th grade, pass their math and science classes after failing twice with the regular teacher who was on a sabbatical because of the “stress” of teaching these children. I wasn’t trained to instruct Math, as I was a science teacher, but I knew Math as I had taken Math through Calculus and understood the process of basic division and multiplication at that level, just not doing it, “new math” style. I showed them how to process my way and it made the connection for them to understand the new math version.
    But I have deviated from my main point if history will follow its cycle, this mass minded thinking of drinking the Kool-aid will pass after they (the mass) suffer the consequences of their words and actions. To be fully inclusive of all matters of culture, one has to be able to accept others and find common ground. You can’t do that by using violence. Which is why it is had to believe that certain loud-mouth members of Congress want to give money to an aggressive anti-USA country, but deny funds to protect our borders, We are extremely lucky here in the USA, with the exception of 9/11, to have not had war inside our borders, but we are slowing allowing terrorists into the country, who are influencing internal attacks with radical thinking. The Cold War never ended, it just changed tactics.
    But we still all have the right to be free, despite anyone’s view. Our government was set up as a means to guide us, not control individuals. If your state location has become so controlling of your defined rights then you have the right to demand change using the process in place, even if it means repeating the process multiple times and no one has the right to hurt another in reaction. Maybe conservatives have become the minority view today, but today’s “progressive” thinkers are pushing too radical of movement without fully realizing what they are doing. What we all want is the ability to live peacefully with each other. When violence occurs, that should be addressed correctly in a civil matter. Gentlemen have a safe, happy Fourth Of July

  18. You’re making good points MariaRose. First, I’ve heard similar stories from other teachers and former teachers. They’re doing everything but teach, and when they do they have to “teach to the test”. Meanwhile, they’re to be on high alert for any signs of any activity that violates political correctness, or any indication of a potential serial whatever. They don’t get to do what they signed up to do. Unfortunately, that’s become common throughout the job world. Increasingly, jobs are narrowly defined, with responsibilities handed down from above. If you try to bring individuality and creativity to the job, you’re in trouble. That’s tragic, because it stifles progress and the promotion of creativity at the most basic level. And progress and creativity are exactly what we need.

    I hope you’re right about this being cyclical. There are signs that the progressives are getting so radical as to become disconnected from the average person on the street. We’ll see as the election process moves forward, as well as the final results of next year’s outcome.

    But I think what we really need to have happen is for the average person to become more assertive of what we all believe. That might include the right to be left alone, the right to earn a living, the right to our own brands of freedom of expression and creativity, and the right to not be harassed from others claiming the moral high ground who don’t share our beliefs. However, the country seems so fragmented now that there’s no longer a “center”. The average citizen is being pulled in multiple directions, and often doesn’t know what to believe beyond the latest scandal driven headlines.

    Personally, I think the best strategy is to take advantage of the freedoms we have left, and to thrive as best we can. Not only does that remove us as a problem to the rest of society, but it also serves as a good example to others. Whining and calling for collective solutions doesn’t solve individual problems. Only forward initiatives and actions do, and that requires right and independent thinking. Which are two other qualities not currently taught in the school system. That’s tragic.

  19. This is a long topic, Kevin. Well said and I am in full agreement.

    I agree with the basic freedoms of the country as you listed. They don’t really exist to me anymore. It’s the people and all the movements and everything you described. It has sucked the life out of anything that was good or could be good.

    I do enjoy things. I play a lot of golf, work in my business and travel some. I eat some good food and have a pretty drama-free family. I have maybe one or two real friends and I ignore the rest. I stick to myself and that is how I survive now and keep my sanity.
    It’s a shame, it doesn’t have to be like that but I refuse to be a victim or put myself into the crosshairs of all these whackos.
    Bad always drives out good. That to me is what’s happening. Just decent honest good people have been driven unground by this insanity.
    That is not freedom or culture I want to be part of anymore.

  20. I’m in agreement, but I’m trying to focus more on the positives. When I step back and realize how good life is and can be – in spite of all the crap going on – I can’t help but feel that’s something to enjoy. In 20 or 25 years or so I’ll be dead and the world can sort this all out without me. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on living the best life I’ve been blessed to have. I think that’s all any of us can do, especially now that the extremists are becoming the unofficial official gatekeepers. I need to get Harry Browne’s book “How to Find Freedom in an Unfree World”. He was a brilliant guy so there must be some good insights in that book.

  21. Tim – You might appreciate this article from Jim Kunstler today Ghosts of the Fourth. Toward the end he speculates how everything could take a positive turn, in the ashes of the collapse of the current economic/commercial cycle. I see something similar since the infrastructure to make it happen is already in place. As he put it, we just need for a few shoes to drop.

  22. It’s a good article. I actually know where that is. I have been there or passed through that area a few times.
    The only good thing that I hope is that the trade war drives us back to making our own stuff. Putting these towns and areas back to use. Yes, there would be pain involved but in the big, long picture I always think it is better.

    I love that all the big box stores are starting to fail. It can’t happen soon enough for me.
    We need a major shirt of attitude though if we are going to survive. It can’t go on in it’s present state. It is so destructive.

    I would love to see people taking pride in there work. Building things. My cousin was talking about this yesterday how he thought it was so cool that a steel plant that was right in this town, provided the steel for the golden gate bridge.

    I’d love to see Wall Street actually investing and helping businesses grow. Instead of sucking off the false economy.
    There was still a lot of that when I was little. My father was proud of his job. Could you imagine that happening again.
    My brother in law is a wood worker and he is actually building custom shelving for the actor James Spader, right now. He builds things, creates. This is what people need. Not shuffling papers in a cube 10 hours a day really accomplishing nothing.

    I’d love to see it. This is the America I loved. The one I had pride in. Was proud to say I lived in.

    People are people. There will always be racism. There will always be issues. It will never end. We are a flawed species.
    Government has sucked the life out of half the country. With it’s endless wars, Bubble economies and a complete desolation of small business.
    Special interests and all these movements have taken the rest.

    I hope people are waking up to this. I know some are. We have a long long road ahead of us if is to ever change. It took a long time to get here so it will take a long time to get back. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime but I’d love to see the direction change.
    It is changing in some places but it is hard to see right now.

  23. I have hope in that, at least according to the IRS, many millions of people in America have side businesses. That’s probably financial necessity, starting a side business to generate extra revenue. But whatever drives it, it can ultimately bring us back to the modern equivalent of cottage industry. I’m also really happy to see all the emphasis on chefs and people who rehab houses, because those are actually crafts. I also know a lot of people who make a living on the web, like me. Then I hear about people like you who are running more traditional businesses against all odds. It takes creativity and skill, and that’s what we need so we can get away from a credentials driven workforce.

    All of this is a positive step, because as the corporate economy continues to shed jobs, millions of people will already have a Plan B income situation up and running. It’s good to see this developing now, with the corporate unraveling being in its early stages. But as it accelerates, I expect to see more budding entrepreneurs.

    I think once we reach that point, and the masses become less dependent on the corporate and government systems, wr’ll also get more independent thinking. Maybe at that point we’ll begin to return to what made America a truly great, which was the emphasis on faith, family, community and enterprise. The current reliance on government and corporations has created a zombie culture. Maybe this is the beginning of a reversal of that trend. We can dare to hope, I certainly am.

  24. Hopefully there will be more than understand this as time goes on. I always told the story, when I left that god forsaken law enforcement job. I could have wrote my own ticket right into google.
    One of my closest friends is a big shot there and he would have gotten me into a pretty good, higher up position.

    I just couldn’t do it. He really accomplishes nothing of value. I just didn’t want that for my self. We are still close. He lives very well. I visit him three times a year in his gated beach community. He looks hundred years old. He is always on call. Spends half a round of golf on the phone. He thought I was nuts to say no. I would have had an easy six figure salary with a high school diploma. It wasn’t about the money. I wanted more out of life than that. I didn’t need the money. I needed piece of mind.
    I opted to start over with my own business. I made 3000 dollars my first year. LOL

    I do hope in this. I hope it becomes a reality for more people.

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