5 min read

National Pride — I Believe There is Hope for Our Future

National Pride — I Believe There is Hope for Our Future

I'll just come out and say it – the state of our country and the world has me more concerned and generally despondent than ever before. It's not a new phenomenon to hear more bad news than good news, but this feels different. 

There are so many destructive things happening that it has become almost impossible to avoid. At a macro level, when looking at the history of our country and the global situation, I can argue that every prior generation has had to suffer through the same, if not more dire, circumstances.

I've always been a history buff, so it was natural for me to be very interested in the ancestry and lineage of my surname. I've attempted to trace my ancestry back as far as possible, and if the records I've found are accurate, my ancestors trace back to emigrating to America from England in the 1600s.

If my tracing is correct, one ancestor was a governor of the Carolinas before the American Revolution and independence. So, my family has been on this land and in this country for a long time.

Our ancestors were so disillusioned with the English rule that they fought a bloody war and declared independence. Without electricity and telephones, unhappy people had to risk the danger of speaking in person and through newsprint. Finally, they hit their breaking point, deciding to risk everything and bet on themselves to create a new nation.

It must have been a very chaotic and scary time determining what sides existed, which one you wanted to belong to, and the risk it brought to yourself and your family if even families agreed. The stress and uncertainty levels must have been palpable during those early times. But history has shown as rough as the beginning was for the new experiment, it was successful.

From that point on, there has been no generation of Americans, zero, that has had the luxury of living without chaos, uncertainty, and personal strife:

  • War of 1812
  • Native American eradication
  • Slavery
  • American Civil War
  • World War I
  • Great Economic Depression
  • The Dust Bowl
  • World War II
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam War
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • 9/11
  • War in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Climate Change
  • The Pandemic
  • Russia-Ukraine War

It was also during those times that we achieved great things:

  • Independence
  • End of slavery
  • The Model T and assembly line
  • Air flight
  • Electricity and the light bulb
  • The equal rights movement
  • Landing on the moon
  • The invention of the computer
  • The creation of the Internet
  • The advent of social media
  • Private innovation in space travel

I did not intend this to be an exhaustive list or purposely omit or weigh one more important or impactful than the other. The point is that we have had severe challenges to overcome consistently and constantly throughout time, as well as triumphs and advancements.

I am 57 and can vividly recall my grandparents saving every metal, plastic, and glass container and reusing them for another purpose. They were both teachers and lived in a small, modest home. My grandmother could sew and cook anything; I even recall her making me a small tent for one of my birthdays. My grandfather could build, repair, and create anything, like the brakes on their car, he even made furniture and jewelry, and he made me a baseball bat on his lathe. They also saved obsessively due to living through the Great Depression, which profoundly impacted my grandparents and the whole country.

Every generation has had to endure personal, local, national, and global situations that seemed so desperate and dark that there was no way out and nothing good to look forward to. The international tensions of today bring back memories of school drills in the 50s to prepare for a nuclear event.

Our government and people seem more divided than ever, with many questioning if the two-party system or even our democracy itself is still viable. Yet, in the 60s, the civil rights movement and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King seem to be at the same level of uncertainty.

One of the most significant changes impacting our lives more recently has been the advance of technology, namely the Internet and social media. We no longer have to wait a day or even an hour for information; we get it instantly as it happens. With so much access to create and absorb, anyone can find infinite information to support their agenda and beliefs from countless sources.

This notion is nothing new, but the immediacy and ubiquity of access are different. People worldwide argue, agree, fight, slander, praise, and publish in real time. The term "influencer" has now become a lucrative profession simply for taking advantage of these realities.

Twenty years ago, before online news, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram started, we received most information via television and newspapers. Then, being heard required writing to the editor or picking up the phone. Today, anyone and everyone can be heard instantaneously, no matter how brilliant or idiotic the idea or rhetoric is.

So why does it feel like things are so bad? Why does it feel like we've lost our way? Why does it feel like we are a nation that has lost its pride?

I was born in Oklahoma in 1965 and lived overseas in places like Dubai and London in the 1970s, and I would not give up those experiences for anything. I learned more about cultures, people, and myself than I ever did in school. I've lived the past 43 years in Texas and can say I am and always have been so proud to be American.

I am not proud of many things we have done in our history and some things we are doing now, but I don't know any nation that can claim otherwise. So when I hear American's stating they will move to another country because ours is so bad, the very right they have to do so is fundamental to our own country's beliefs.

It's understandable but sad that the times in history when we seem to have put differences aside and come together as a nation is during times of terrible and horrific events. The latest examples are World War II and 9/11. Yet, I cannot think of a time since then when pride in our flag and being American was top of mind.

It makes me wonder if we are in a worse spot than ever, or are we just in a different place that feels worse? Is social media helping society or hurting it?

The Covid-19 pandemic will become one of the worst disasters of all time. But will we notice the herculean positive response of the medical community and the small shop owner's innovation and fight to stay in business? More than ever, people have more choices to work where they want and do what they want. Yet we are still unhappy.

I find it interesting that we spend so much time, energy, and money to explore and privatize space with the idea that one day we could populate Mars. Civilians, today can pay to go to space with more extensive plans on the horizon. Yet, we don't see the paradox. The number of resources (time, energy, money) it would require for the red barren wasteland of Mars to become livable is immeasurable when we are sitting on the most beautiful planet we have ever found and yet continue to treat it as garbage.

We live through massive changes to our planet, but we believe it would be easier to ditch it rather than come together and do something meaningful about it. I'm not against any exploration in space or the oceans; I'm all for it. It is just disappointing that we as a country and civilization cannot agree to take meaningful action due to the age-old demons of greed, politics, and prejudice.

My wife and I became first-time grandparents during the peak of Covid in 2020, proving in our little world that amid despair, we were given one of the best gifts of our lives. I worry about my little granddaughter about what her life will be like, what our country will be like, and what our planet will be like. I only hope their generation will stand up like so many before to push aside differences and have the courage and fortitude to take on challenges we seem unable to. But I'm sure my grandparents felt the same way.

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