Where is common sense? If ever needed, it is now. Historically, Americans knew their history, knew something of world history, cared to understand the difference. If we forget who we are – if we do not educate youth honestly – we risk losing it all. Here is the unvarnished truth.
Some people think today’s difficulties materialized from thin air. They did not. They represent laziness, a decline in critical thinking. As society has sped up, attention to values, clear thinking, and history has not kept up. It must.
Today, too many people default labels. Labels get one nowhere. Rather than honest dialogue, thinking exchanges, and pursuit of truth – people revert to tossed-off insults, dismissing whole groups of fellow Americans as racist, fascist, xenophobes, supremacists, promoters of “systemic racism,” and countless other demeaning departures from reason, respect and common sense.
Focus, for a moment, on our President. If he were truly a racist, fascist, authoritarian or totalitarian – like China’s Xi, Russia’s Putin, Iran’s Rouhani, or any of history’s authoritarian monsters – his critics would all be in jail. They are not.
Ask yourself: Can people in Communist China speak freely in a nation that, as of October 2019, ordered books critical of communism be destroyed? Yet modern Democrats and reckless media outlets toss words about – criticizing a President who defends the First, Second, Fourth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth amendments – as if this were Communist China. It is not.
Ronald Reagan warned – if we did not respect who we were, freedom and history – many older Americans, in sunset years, would talk of a free land that was unknown to the youth. We are approaching that time. The nation is watching a generation of youth being indoctrinated into a culture that is bereft of thinking.
Today, “feelings” cancel facts, reason, respect, and appreciation for core values. Critical thinking has become an alien term. Labels and nihilistic nonsense replace logic and nimble thinking; dependence and mob manipulation replace self-reliance and independent thought. Societies do not long survive such intellectual shrinking, lack of engagement, dishonesty.
We do not preserve the best in who we are, get to truth, or persuade an antagonist by dropping f-bombs, insults, and emotion-laden labels. That gets us nowhere. A new force in society is trying to silence disagreement, cancel alternative viewpoints, marginalize anyone who does not agree with the mob, party, and centralizing force – anyone who refuses to be pulled into the current.
Look at history – and the present. Socialism, a long step toward communism, destroys the individual – and the society, from moral values to economic prosperity. Venezuela, once the richest country in South America, went socialist and now one percent own what remains of the nation, and 99 percent suffer in abject poverty, fear, and starvation. A good model for America?
In China millions of dissenters are herded into reeducation camps or have disappeared forever. How did those countries get there? Promises of a better life, government will meet all needs, free stuff, free medical, give your rights to the government – for security and utopia. Only the lazy dream becomes an inescapable nightmare.
Today’s politics are polarized, but common sense is still within each of us – to be found and used. You can love individualism, hard work, free choice, your country’s heritage and our Constitution – ever confident in the future, an optimist; or you can punt away the future, adopt the doom and gloom, anti-American mindset the left is selling. They say the country is bad, all white citizens are racist, justice a function of mob violence, anarchy, or socialism a better way forward than freedom and personal accountability, hard work and self-reliance. We are being spoon-fed class warfare, Marxism, and the notion that all should be envious of all – exactly what led the Soviets into 70 years of fear and repression.
Meantime, truth goes unreported, while “narratives” – absent facts, but feeding prejudice – bounce about social media. Is it not time to pause, refocusing on facts? If racism is bad, and it is, why do we not ask the hard questions: How many black men die at the hands of other black men? How many black babies were aborted in the last two months? Why doesn’t the left care about these seminal facts? And are those not racist who lump all of one skin color together, and call them racist? Where is our bearing, our reference to facts, our common sense?
And where is today’s Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan? The leaders in Congress are not helping, but model disrespect for each other – and how does that help unify a country around core beliefs? They seem increasingly unaccountable.
In short, America needs to wake up, as history is a funny thing – it repeats itself when people are ignorant. Our Founders knew it – and that is why they expected us to keep educating ourselves – into the misty future. Permitting group think, immorality, centralization of power, public corruption, and violence to replace independent thought, moral compass, self-reliance, accountability, and peaceful discord – is a formula for dark days. We can avoid them – by returning to common sense, that is, self-respect, knowledge of history, caring about who we are – and have been. We are not socialists, we are Americans. In November, remember who we are – then vote. The choice is stark: Live free or cede all choices to an elite few.
Cliff Perkins is former destroyer captain with 24 years in the US Navy, who spent 15 years with Lockheed Martin working in satellites and rockets, is an educator and writer on national security and policy issues.