There has been more material progress in the United States in the 20th century than there was in the entire world in all the previous centuries combined. Almost every indicator of health, wealth, safety, nutrition, affordability and availability of consumer goods and services, environmental quality and social conditions shows substantial improvement over the last century.
What will be said of this new century 100 years from now? It is difficult to predict the future with much accuracy. Shortly after the Russian revolution in 1918, learned Russians gathered and predicted the future of their country under the new collectivist economic system we call communism. Their view was that a new era was dawning and the future was bright and shiny.
In fact, a new era was dawning. However, it wasn’t what the futurists had in mind. Within a few short years, millions upon millions of Soviet citizens would be imprisoned and executed for trivial offenses (both real and imagined) and the Soviet economy would completely collapse. Gangsters and black marketing has replaced collective cooperation and socialist utopia.
The United States is the greatest nation in the history of the world. The great experiment in self-government worked. We are now poised to become even greater. What should we do to promote our greatness in the new century?
Without dwelling on the minor issues of the day, it seems to me that America lacks a sense of unification. We need a cause behind which we can all line-up and push forward. We need to agree, in broad terms, on a central national theme. What should that theme be?
Approaching the subject backwards, what problems in our society might keep us from enjoying national unification and commonalty?
Racial intolerances? Poverty? Crime? Greed? Government self-absorption? Economic challenges from abroad? All these issues enter into the mix.
How might we go about reducing or eliminating some, or all, of these threats to our prosperity? The problems are not simple, and neither will the solutions be simple.
A good starting point is the individual. Strong, self-confident, well-grounded people make strong citizens who, in turn, make strong, progressive nations. Our country was founded by such people. They had a spirit of giving rather than taking. They were also fierce individualists.
If people were only satisfied with themselves and were firmly grounded in their importance as individual human beings and Americans, many of our problems would disappear. Happiness comes from within and is different from being entertained or pacified. Unhappy people take drugs, commit crimes and measure their importance by their possessions. Likewise, unhappy people harbor racial hatreds and are lulled into looking to others for solutions to their problems.
In order to inspire people to give of themselves, our institutions must prove themselves worthy of being given to. Departing from government “by the beltway and for the beltway” would go a long way toward creating confidence that those in public service are dedicated to the public good. Government should admit that it cannot be the solution to all of our problems. Government can be the catalyst and provide the framework to address problems. The ultimate solution, however, must come from the involved, informed electorate.
A free economy is the most efficient, powerful engine for producing goods and services ever conceived by man. Unfortunately, it is not necessarily fair to everyone. This is a fact of life and should be accepted as reality and attempts to circumvent the system through political rhetoric abandoned. Otherwise, people are given the false impression that wealth is going to be taken from the rich and given to the poor. Not going to happen.
In order to create a national unification of purpose, we need to make this the century of the individual. To make gains comparable to the last century, Americans needs to return to living independent, value-driven, people-centered, God-loving, anti-complacent, self-disciplined, self-reliant lives. Should we turn in that direction, there is no limit to what good things this century holds for America. Otherwise, we may see our dreams smashed to bits like the Russian futurists following the Bolshevik Revolution.
Thought for the Moment
You people remind me of the boy who set a hen on 43 eggs. He rushed in and told his mother what he had done. “But a hen can’t set on 43 eggs,” replied has mother. “No, I guess she can’t, but I just wanted to see her spread herself.” That’s what I want to see you people do.
— Abraham Lincoln
Dr. Tichenor created Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic in Liberty, Miss.
Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.