These are indeed strange times. We now question not only America's future, but its very existence. This is not the first time we have questioned our ability to carry on. The 1860's, 1930's and 1960's were strange times in our country's history, but somehow we held on and succeeded in spite of overwhelming odds against us.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of being able to see quite a bit of the world, and there are many countries with admirable strengths, but there are weaknesses in them as well. Although other countries are quick to criticize our actions and policies, make no mistake, America is the country everyone wants to work with, and the place where everyone wants to come to. In spite of all of our problems, America continues to somehow persevere. One cannot help but ask, "Why?"
As the world's melting pot, we are a culturally diversified society with a heterogeneous set of opinions and perspectives. Our customs, beliefs, and values are derived not just from the "old world" but from geographical idiosyncrasies as well; e.g., New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and the Northwest, each with their own indelible peculiarities which influences the behavior and opinion of the citizens. Getting the people of the United States to conform to a standard set of values, rules, and laws is not only incredibly difficult, it is nothing less than a miracle that we have lasted this long.
So why does America succeed? Two reasons:
First, Freedom - We were very fortunate to have a set of founding fathers with the foresight to develop an innovative Constitution and Bill of Rights which defines the checks and balances of government and establishes the unalienable rights we all enjoy as citizens. It is simply brilliant. Freedom allows us to express our creativity and imagination, encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, and promotes a free-enterprise system that stimulates the growth of the middle class representing the economic engine of our country (and the world). Without this engine, America would be no different than any other third world country.
We have been fortunate to have had many people defend these rights over the years, both in and out of uniform, but perhaps no more than Abraham Lincoln who seemed to grasp the significance of what our forefathers were trying to do and, thankfully, preserved it for succeeding generations. I very much doubt we have anyone in our government today with the wisdom and vision needed to devise as sophisticated a document as the framers of the Constitution did over 200 years ago.
Second, the People - who thrive under an environment of freedom. America is not just one people, it is several types of people operating under one umbrella. Both our strength and weakness lies in our cultural diversity. It brings many different perspectives, insights, and new ideas to the table, thus encouraging opportunity, competitiveness and invention on a global scale. It is because of this cultural mix that we only come together as a result of disaster; the rest of the time is spent arguing, finger pointing, and political wrangling. This is why Americans are typically better reactors as opposed to planners. If America has an Achilles' Heel, it is that we tend to wait for disaster before we act; e.g., The Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, and 911.
America succeeds not because of our government, but in spite of it. Without the blueprint of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, our government would be more invasive in our lives than it already is.
So, why do we succeed? Actually, I think it's more than just dumb luck, but rather because the time was right to create a country like the United States, the need was real, and we were fortunate to have good and learned people who put it all together. As long as we believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and do not deviate from them, and believe in ourselves, "We the people..." of America will succeed.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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