Monday, July 27, 2009

The Curse of Interesting Times

America is facing turbulent times and major challenges these days. Facing hostile enemies abroad, and economic and social challenges at home, we are faced---as in the ancient Chinese curse---with the prospect of living in "interesting times."

To be honest...and I hate to say this...but many of our current problems just reflect the reality that our country---or, at the least, the "elites" that define our country for us---has become. When Society started deeming it more important to protect "self-esteem" than to be concerned about accomplishments, I think we entered a very dangerous stretch of history.

Among the critical moments in a democracy is when the public realizes that it can vote itself money from the public treasury. For us, that moment came during the Great Depression, when we first turned to the Government to rescue us from an internal crisis. Over the last 75 years, we've seen the role of government gradually expanding, at the same time that cultural influences were undercutting our traditional notions of personal responsibility. Now, I think we're facing yet another critical moment...and it's not looking pretty.

At heart, I remain a hopeless romantic, and so I'm still not convinced that things will end in disaster. I hope, instead, that the public will recoil from the spectacles we see in Washington and Wall Street...cashier the lot of them...and start anew, having been chastened about being too trusting when it comes to spending public money. But I've also read about the various stages of development in a democracy---from Despotism to Liberty and back again---and we do seem to be a bit more than half-way through the cycle. And just as Rome collapsed as a result of its own excesses (and was promptly overrun by barbarians), I don't think America is immunve from the same fate, if we let ourselves be guided by our greed and passions, rather than our ideals and principles.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a veteran public prosecutor in Detroit, Michigan, specializes in the appellate practice of criminal law and writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.

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