Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Another Trip to Washington DC and Rising to the Occasion of Patriotism

On my recent trip to Washington DC with my adult children, I asked my 23 year old daughter if staring at the capital caused her to feel patriotic.  She paused and then said something like, "not really".

We toured the Air and Space museum and I looked on in awe remembering the space race and John F. Kennedy inspiring a nation.  My adult children saw something that has been there their entire lives.

At the fence today, on my way home from the evening walk, my neighbor called me over and asked if I was watching the Olympic Games.  I told her I had watched the Russian figure skaters and what an inspiration it was for the young man to win the gold.  His story being one of rags to riches.  She said she remembered as a girl how exciting the Olympic games were.  We would all crowd around the television like it was the evening news with Walter_Cronkite. It was a big deal and we rooted for our country - the US of A.

We pondered on why the patriotism level is diminished, or at least we perceive it that way.  I suggested that it is because the generations have no one unifying goal.  In a world where we can unite faster than ever before -on line for a reason, we also can lose focus just as fast.

In the pre-computer days, we waited all year for the winter Olympics to show on the t.v.  We had reason to look forward. Long cold winters, short days, long nights. Catholic school.   Now, the everyday question can be answered in seconds and you can watch so much live, without wait or editing.  Our feed us now, feed us more, feed us quickly generation is not as easily inspired over the long run.

That discussion moved to Obama and his inspiration then transmigration to one of them, one of the every day.  He lost the magic moment, not because he is not inspirational (although I leave that to the pundits) but because he lost the one simple message repeated and rejoiced and repeated.

Kennedy had the luxury of the space race.  Obama inherited wars, the debt, and the oh so many lagging conservatives.  He also had healthcare for all.  Basic human dignity for all. His message got lost in websites and taxes.  He started to give in here and give a bit there.  He lost the message of basic health care for all.  He lost his short attention-span fans, because he left his message for something none of us really understand.  Funny, he had the insurance companies with him.  And he is still changing it, delaying it.  Diluting the message and his history.  And perhaps, though not all his responsibility, diluting the youth patriotism.

Patriotism is not just about loyalty, it is about inspiration, tears, willingness to step us, protection, love, and the future and the past.  Our young people need to believe they have a future, a country that encourages them and a place where vision, bravery and risk pay off.  They need the 2015 version of go west young man.  I don't know where these leaders and ideas that inspire will come from, but I know they are out there. The youth want to believe in a cause, in truth and justice.  But they don't want to wait.  They want immediate 2014 on line feedback that they are worth it and their accomplishments meaningful.  They want to be recognized for their own wild wild west.  Because this is America, and there will always be a cowboy or girl to take us to the new frontier.