(originally published May, 2007 in The Burro magazine)
This Memorial Day, let’s celebrate The American Way-- innovation, and a common effort to increase the common good. This Memorial Day, let us remember what the brave soldiers of past and present really have fought for-- The American Dream. It’s a dream where anyone can get ahead through hard work, and you can hope for a better life for your children than you had.
Part of the American Dream-- the dream that men and women have died for, for over 200 years-- involves change. At first, it was change from British rule, to a new system of government called Democracy. You might guess that the British were not too fond of the concept, and they fought it-- with soldiers, guns, political measures, and every other way they could fathom.
We’ve gone through many changes as a country since then-- from a small group of colonies to a vast country that embraces a whole continent. We’ve gone from an agricultural society to the industrial revolution, from candles to electricity in most every home, from outhouses to indoor plumbing. We’ve gone from horse drawn carriages to the automobile, from the abacus to the calculator to the computer. Still, one thing remains the same in all of these changes. They were resisted, tooth and nail, by the people who had time and money invested in the old ways.
We are at one of those huge crossroads in our history once again. Oil companies and combustion-engine car companies are doing everything they can to keep us from advancing to the next stage of The American Dream-- where we develop eco-friendly cars and power solutions that save the environment for our children and grand- children. They have mounted a propaganda campaign that denies scientific fact about global warming. They have repressed technology that would have given us electric cars a decade ago-- and instead, are charging us over $3 a gallon for gas. They stall solar and wind power development wherever they can, and instead charge us high rates for electricity created by pollution-causing coal.
And they are using their power, and their money, on every level, including their most successful effort in all of American history. And that is, of course, the election of an American President whose sole purpose in office has been to promote their agenda, and make them profit. We make jokes about George Bush’s intellect, but the harsh fact is that he is the most successful president in American history-- at creating profits for his friends at oil companies, military contractors, drug companies, and companies that taint our food supply with experimental genetically altered food.
So the question is, this Memorial Day-- who will be the next generation of brave Americans to fight for The American Dream? Who will put down the priorities of their everyday life, and sacrifice for the common good? Who is willing to go to war, so that their children and grand-children have a better life than they did?
This is not a war that needs to be fought with guns. This is a war of politics, of power of the people, of taking back our great form of government from the people who are abusing it, because they are invested in old ways at a historical time of change.
How will future generations remember us on Memorial Day, years from now? Will our country live on? With our dependency on foreign oil and our trade deficit with China, surely some doubt exists.
Where we would be now if past generations had been too busy to fight for our common good-- if the richest people on the planet cried poor when it came time to give? Ask yourself that, the next time you are asked to volunteer or donate to your local Democratic party.