In a time of incredible unrest, where the clash of ideology, poverty, and corruption has turned fear into both violence and death, America is displaying the ugly side of freedom. In a place so often called “the greatest country in the world,” the face of ugliness has become more prominent than ever before.
All of this has not stemmed from the actions of a singular despot seeking ultimate power, it is battle from within. I don’t mean some kind of core group acting within the borders of our country, I refer to a battle within ourselves, and those are undoubtedly the toughest to win.
If everything we faced were a physical challenge then we would follow the path so often found in books and film. The character seeking victory would ultimately lose enough conflict to train them to get better. They would follow the example of winners, gain counsel from learned colleagues, and progress toward their final goal.
The ancient Japanese Samurai trained diligently in the art of weapons, warfare, and the mastery of their technique, but they also sought spiritual and inner peace. They sought to bring balance to their lives in every aspect, and those are qualities long missing in our present world.
As a parent I have tried to serve my children and family while setting an example worthy of following. Only the end of my days will eventually prove its value since our legacy seems to so often outshine our actual time of labor. Yet across all those years, the capacity for understanding and compassion will stand tall over anything accomplished through anger, rage, or vengeance.
We remember the wars fought and the battles won, but the most lingering after effect is the loss of life. We call it sacrifice to remind ourselves of the reason why, to console ourselves over the absence of a loved one, but in the end the sting of death still strikes home. All loss and pain because people were too unwilling to reach an understanding, too stubborn to compromise, and too greedy to care.
All war ends in a room with leaders, not on a battlefield. The taste for killing is filled to overflowing as many a soldier has returned home tortured by nightmares after coming face to face with killing another so much like themselves. They are the ones who truly bear the burden of the decisions made by idle leaders in the safety of their lofty rooms.
But today, in our hometowns, the battles are raging between our own citizens, and those charged with keeping the peace are caught in the crossfire. How many of us could effectively do our jobs each day if it meant fearing for our lives? These men and women are not facing a clearly uniformed, identifiable enemy, but the people who live and breathe around them each day. They are also people who chose to serve, and do so for a shameful salary given the risk. How have we become a society so tilted that we glorify professional athletes that are paid millions while we demonize those we call on to protect us from unruly harm? How is the entertainment of a game worth so much more than the security of our communities or the schools our children attend?
America will never live up to its proclaimed greatness until it learns to win the battle that is raging between its own citizens. Not its immigrants, not its enemies across the oceans, or its competitors around the globe, no, America must first and foremost achieve its own title…
“The United States of America”
As we stand today, it is a title we are not worthy of, and before we will ever reach the potential to truly lead the world we must first find accord and unity from within. Not by the means of any singular religion or leader, we must embrace each other and find the places where we all can contribute. We must make our nation as a whole stronger than any one person or group, because it is only through the strength of all that we can ultimately become… United.
Race, creed, gender, origin, young, old, rich, poor, etc…we are all made up of a diverse background. We all came from two hundred years of mixed ancestry, but that is exactly what makes us American. This is the common denominator we must hold most dear. Let us win the battle within and leave a legacy for generations to come that will be told with pride, and not a tale of woe.