John F Kennedy’s exhortation during Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961 of “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country” delivered at the height of the Cold War became the rallying cry of many youth in the early 1960’s. It inspired many young American like me to see the importance of civic action and a life of public service. Its central message was that self-sacrifice and service to the greater good above self were more important to a nation that was on the precipice of global nuclear warfare with the former Soviet Union. This message inspired the Peace Corps and other altruistic organizations dedicated to serving the betterment of mankind.
Well, fast forward some sixty years and it appears the relationship John F. Kennedy envisioned between the government and those who it governs have been reversed. LBJ’s “Great Society” gave rise to generations who are dependent on the government for the very essentials of life. Rather than work hard and pursue the American Dream and contribute back to society they have found it much easier for them to simply sit back and to rely on the government to provide. The nation’s recent experience with the COVID-19 Pandemic has reinforced the fact that a large segment of our society would prefer not to work but rather collect the fruits of those who have labored and contributed.
At one time, America was the “Melting Pot” where immigrants waited their turn to enter the county legally, assimilated into American Society, worked hard, and took pride in being known simply as Americans. One only has to look across the landscape to see this is no longer the case as many expect government subsidies to sustain them with the implication their allegiance to one political party.
Unfortunately, we are a nation JFK would no longer recognize. We have become self-centered and lazy – more concerned about posting our latest selfie on a social media platform than self-sacrifice contributing to the greater good of the Republic.
It is no accident that China has now filled a power vacuum in the middle east that was once the exclusive domain of the United States of America. Say what you may about President Donald Trump, but he understood the restrained use of military hard power and economic soft power which the Biden Administration has failed to grasp. Our timidity of a withdrawal from Afghanistan certainly was the catalyst for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and I suspect it will also serve as a green light for China to seize Taiwan while we stand by and issue strong diplomatic demarches.
Yes, unfortunately all great civilizations must come to an end. We continue to pretend all is well in spite of our obvious decline as a nation both internally and externally. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and we all know how that ended – unfortunately I now hear the strains of a fiddle in the background – please stop the music.