With So Much to Be Grateful For, Why So Much Negativity?
- 17 June 2007 by Author 0 Comments
With So Much to Be Grateful For, Why So Much Negativity?
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 06/17/07
There is a negativism that seems to be growing like a cancer in America. Criticism of the government has digressed to the level of vitriol and acrimony. Not just of the government in general, but more specifically directed toward the President and those who work for him. But it has surpassed even that level of degradation, as the country itself is apparently caught in a negative vortex of public opinion where the country is “headed in the wrong direction,” and we are perceived to be hated throughout the world, and we can do nothing right.
Perhaps much of this perception is shaped by a public media that promulgates nothing but negativity. News broadcasts are replete with pejoratives, which seems to play well to the “glass half empty” philosophy, rather than the “glass half full” mentality. This is not necessarily a condemnation of mass media, for they have to market news that sells, and regrettably bad news and sensationalism sells much better than good news.
As the third most populous nation in the world with over 300 million people, it is inevitable that there will be something bad happening every day. But most of us here in “fly over country” enjoy a quality lifestyle with greater peace and prosperity than our fathers or grandfathers saw in their times. Our lives our filled with a relative sameness from day to day; not the degree of trudging through mortality like our forebears endured, but a routine filled with less time in the workplace than at any time in history, being paid more for that time than at any time in history, and able to return home spending more leisure time with family than at any other time in history.
What makes so much of this possible is the remarkable free-enterprise system that our economy is modeled after. There is great angst by some over how powerful China is becoming, and certainly they are an economic force to be wary of, considering their history of civil rights abuse, their communist roots, and their bellicose past. The U.S. economy has grown more over the past three years than the entire size of the Chinese economy. America’s share of global GDP in 1980 was 20%, and it now is over 29%.
Not so long ago, economic matters were of primary concern to Americans. If there were enough jobs to go around, and decent pay associated with those jobs, and we had relatively low inflation that wasn’t doubling prices every couple of years, and interest rates were not at usurious levels, and government wasn’t taking most of our income for taxes, that we were generally a pretty content people. Maybe the economy has been too good, since we find so many other things to be critical of.
Consider the incredible freedoms we have in this country: we can live where we want to, travel, work in a chosen field, purchase goods, enjoy varieties of plentiful food, and even say what we want to. In light of these things and all other bounties we enjoy in this great land, it’s hard for me to understand how it’s possible that over 60% of Americans feel we’re going in the wrong direction.
There are even many among us who not only seem to hate America and think we’re heading the wrong direction, but they seem to think that the rest of the world hates us as well. Those who think it’s never been worse obviously don’t remember the massive demonstrations all across Europe in the 80’s. They also fail to acknowledge that before Ronald Reagan was President, there were fewer than 40 democracies in the world, while now there are nearly 150. America has been the standard-bearer for democracy since our inception over 200 years ago, and America still leads the charge for increased freedom, individual liberty, and trumpeting of human rights. France and Germany recently elected leaders who are pro-American, and if the polls are to be trusted, Spain will elect new leadership that is more pro-American than many of our fellow Americans are. President Bush was greeted in some areas of his visit to Europe last week like a rock star, or perhaps more appropriately, the leader of the free world that he is.
Sure we have our issues to deal with. What nation doesn’t? Does that make us awful? No, for this is still the greatest land and bastion of liberty to the entire world. Does this make us imperfect? Absolutely, for as long as we have a nation established on principles that are eternal in nature, endowed by our creator, and idyllic in nature, we will come short of our ideals. Nations, like nature, are never in a condition of stasis; we are ever changing and evolving.
Even if you don’t like the President, and there are a lot who don’t with his approval rating now at 29%, you can still love America and all that she stands for. Even if you don’t like Congress, and there are a lot of us who don’t with their approval rating now at 22%, you can still love America and all that she stands for.
I read something recently that is ascribed to Jay Leno; I don’t know if that’s correct or not. His observation was that perhaps we’re just a nation of ingrates; the largest collection of spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves America and what we stand for, yet has such disdain for Americans. Maybe the world sees us for what we are; the most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have and what we hate about the country, instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.
And what about the President who took us into war and no plan to get us out? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The President that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The Commander in Chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?
This is still the greatest nation on God’s green earth. Sometimes we just need a little perspective on the good that Americans have done for our nation, our posterity, and the nations of the earth in spite of our shortcomings.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.