Posted by: amylamb | October 21, 2012

America’s Greatest Threat

Every nation has a story, and ours is one worth telling. But legacies become great only when they are threatened by a formidable enemy.

The greatest threat to America is not al-Qaeda, dependence on foreign energy sources, or even a failing economy. So what, then, could it be?

I am my nation’s greatest threat — and so are you.

We, the citizens, are the greatest threat to America because within us dwells entitlement and irresponsibility. John Adams said that a democratic republic is not sustainable for a culture in which those two characteristics reign preeminent. Benjamin Franklin also noted that the nation depends on the responsibility of the people therein when he remarked that America would be “a republic, if you can keep it. ”

The generations before us have “kept it” well, especially in light of the challenges they faced. Indeed, the United States of America was a masterful experiment from the beginning: the idea that people strewn across thousands of miles could achieve unity in diversity by governing themselves. This premise is the source of America’s exceptionalism, based on the assumption that Americans are responsible enough to be their own authority.

We forfeit the privilege of a democratic republic when we choose entitlement over responsibility, complacency over conviction, and apathy over advocacy.

That is no recipe for a sustainable democratic republic.

Though the statistics are merely evidence of a deeper issue, few would deny the culture of entitlement that is quickly taking over the culture of responsibility on which our nation depends.

Entitled people cannot govern themselves. Entitlement makes short-term decisions with long-term consequences. Entitlement gives away responsibility instead of taking it upon oneself. Entitlement is fitting for a socialist government, not a democratic republic.

America was simply not designed for this. A nation cannot change if its citizens do not change first.

I don’t want to tell my grandchildren the story about the America that once was:
About the America that was established on the grandiose idea that freedom, liberty, justice, and equality can be enjoyed by everyone, everyday.
About the America that invited “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” to taste and see the liberty in self-government.
About the America that forsook its heritage of faithfully facilitating “a new birth of freedom,” and instead let entitlement take root.
About the America that forfeited its opportunity to be an example to the world, and instead chose to follow the pattern of history, declining into authoritarian government and restricted liberty …

This November, Americans have a choice to make: will we choose to take responsibility for our nation’s crisis, bearing the cost of the nation’s rebirth upon ourselves; or will we continue to relegate responsibility to a government incapable of bearing the weight of our entitlement?

Now is the time to decide how the story ends. Will America’s greatest threat become a reality, or will a nation of people stand to defend their liberty?

Perhaps the moral of America’s story is this: “liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – George Bernard Shaw*

*Though I certainly can’t affirm all of Shaw’s views, he sure got this one right!

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Responses

  1. Extremely well written. Good summary of what is going on in America.

  2. So impressed with your summary.
    Please share what George Bernard Shaw is most known for and what he actually stood for.

    • Samantha, thanks for the comment! I didn’t elaborate on Shaw’s views originally because he was a bit of a pseudo-socialist. So, I added a footnote to clarify that I certainly don’t condone his perspective, but he was certainly correct about the relationship between liberty and responsibility.

      • Another George Bernard Shaw quote

        A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul. – George Bernard Shaw

  3. It is easy to forget the REAL America when we continually perpetuate myths about what we say we stand for. America has always been a nation of entitlement: we thought God (mostly in a deistic sense) had entitled us to the land so we stole from those who were here first. Many more of our wealthy citizens did not want to work the land; they were entitled to ease so they hired indentured servants with a sum they could never pay back and later took Africans from their homeland and enslaved them because they were entitled to racial superiority. We were not content with the East Coast and soon believed we were entitled all the land from sea to shining sea; Manifest Destiny is what I believe it was called. More Native Americans killed and more immigrants brought in to discriminate against and to let our curses, which we were entitled, to fall. These same immigrants we compelled to build or railroads and work our sweatshops. Then we felt we were entitled to more and our Manifest Destiny led to Imperialism where after the Spanish-American war, we had our own colonies to spread our mythos abroad. After two world wars, we began to think we were entitled if not divinely chosen to be 1) a beacon of unbridled capitalism and 2) the world’s police officer. Even today we believe we are entitled to a military presence in every country and have the right to invade any sovereign country we wish in the name of “national security.” So, yes I agree Amy, we need to end America’s view of entitlement, but that doesn’t just mean Americans who sit back and do nothing on the governments dollar, it also means a people deciding that they are just one of many nations in my Father’s world and stop believing our own myths about how special we are.

    • Thanks everyone for your input. Will, you are correct in that our nation’s early origins are not exceptional, but I stand by my statement that our form of government, and thus, our long-term sustainability, are exceptional but not invincible. We are subject to the same forces of human nature as every other struggling nation, and it is up to us to decide whether or not we will continue honoring the exceptional form of government which has been bestowed on us.


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