It is one of those weeks on capitol hill where everyone either has an opinion or is trying to understand what the hell is going on: the Affordable Health Care Act, a government shutdown, the debt ceiling etc..Anger becomes the dominant emotion as the need for media and the blame game accelerates among our representatives and the media themselves. I guess in a time where it seems everyone is a cynic and no one is a prophet it may be time to look at what America has accomplished and why globally we still are the beacon of hope, the beacon of freedom. Despite the fact that so many today in this country no longer seem to believe it. But if you stop to look around and see the rich makeup of this country, its people, its land you will find something special, something beautiful. Sometimes it is simple, sometimes it is grand. But in the end it is always America,
When the founding fathers set out on this journey they aspired to something great. To create a land not of tyranny but self-determination. To allow citizens the right to select their government and to vote their representatives out if they felt they were not doing the work of the people. Even early on there were doubts on what this form of government would mean and if it ould work. Alexander Hamilton favored a system more reminiscent of Great Britain. His nemesis Thomas Jefferson did not subscribe to this idea and perhaps luckily, neither did his star pupil James Madison, who wrote our constitution. George Washington decided two terms was enough, they said he could have been King, but he declined and set a tone for this country that would go unchallenged until the arrival of FDR in the White House. Some two hundred and thirty-seven years later this idea of democracy lives on in American hearts and souls.
As dark as some may find the current times we have lived through far darker. The Civil War is front and center the worst and darkest time in American history as we fought against one another. It would have a lasting legacy as it led to the creation of Jim Crowe laws and the Civil RIghts movement, a very ugly episode in American history, that showed a country not championing human rights to its own citizens. We lived through the Great Depression and prospered. We lived through the Cold War and prospered. We lived through 9/11 and prospered. We have lived through the global financial meltdown and prosper again. Despite our short comings or what befalls us we are a resilient nation and no matter what divides us or hurts us, we always have come through better in the end. Sometimes even unified.
Many cynics argue due to either big government or little government that we are losing our ability to advance the nation. Despite all these cynical episodes America has continued to advance and create industry and economic opportunity for those willing to take chances and view a different and greater world. Much of this goes back to America’s own sence of discovery. How we expanded and explored (and yes, exploited) our own nation as we grew and moved west. We had an innate sense of discovery. The oil industry began here in the US, not the Middle East. When science and entrepreneurship discovered oil in Pennsylvania and a way to refine it, they stopped having to kill so many Sperm Whales, which were the primary source of oils for lights at the time. We created the world’s automotive mecca in Detroit thanks to Henry Ford. We became the epicenter of global finances. Kitty Hawk and the Wright brothers and the birth of flight We took the world atomic. Thomas Edison was American. Too modern times and the development of the world of technology from the microprocessor to Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook etc..Gate, Jobs, Zuckerberg etc..all born and educated in the United States. Our heritage of innovation continues to live in and grow grander.
Moving forward despite people screaming about government intrusion we still continue to retain the spirit of the wild west and invest heavily in the next big idea. There is still a lot of venture capital to be found. Big corporations from Coca-Cola to AT&T to IBM to Exxon continue to thrive and profit in the field of dreams. Google is only 15 years old and generates over 40 billion in revenues. Microsoft generates over 70 billion yet after only 38 years is in decline as the next big wave of opportunity approaches. As much as people suggest that emerging markets may replace the US and its streak of innovative ideas, We are still waiting for it to happen. In the meantime it continues to happen here. In our universities, in our schools. Our economy sets the standard for the rest of the world to follow.
We also have the benefit of living in one of the most spacious and beautiful lands in the world. Thanks to visionaries like President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir we have the National Parks system (yes I know it is currently closed). The Grand Teton’s, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, Glacier Park, Badlands, Crater Lake etc..those are just the some of the many magnificent National Parks. Then you have fifty states with their own parks system many very beautiful in their own right. Not to mention cities both large and small living with serene surroundings. Whether it be the backdrop of Olympic Mountains, nestled softly against the Puget Sound glistening against Seattle or the Statue of Liberty standing tall before the New York City skyline. There is indeed much to be in wonder and awe of in this great land
Probably one of the best things anyone can do in their lifetime in America is just get in a car and drive through the country and see the various landscapes and bodies of water. See the people who make up this country, it is not just white nor should we ever want it to be. It is diverse and ever-changing. As you cross the country you will experience different cultures and different foods. The Creole and Cajun influences of Louisiana. The sea foods of the Atlantic to the different and unique sea foods of the Pacific. The Caribbean influences in Florida. To our european heritages in cities like New York and Chicago. As you travel east to west you go from colonial to more modern architecture. Ascend the sleeping beauty of the Appalachians. You will cross the Mississippi, see the Arch of St Louis. Make your way through the Great Plains and up and over the Rocky Mountains, to the shining coast of California and the Pacific. Whether you want the hustle and bustle of the big city or the quiet get away to compose your thoughts, this country has something for everyone.
We have grown from a small boat of Quakers to a country with over 300 million people. Despite this enormous growth none of the above has diminished what we have to be thankful for. Our corporate kings continue to be our wealthy. Our representatives continue to diversify and represent the entire population. We continue to exert our freedom of speech at the top of our lungs, to whomever will listen. The government may be shut down but the American spirit will always live on. I am not pessimistic over where we are today nor where we will be tomorrow. I am optimistic in this countries resilience, it’s ability to absorb change and move forward. Yes the government may not be working today but it will comeback and we the citizens will adapt and move on in our journey forward. Sometimes things just need to be said, If we believe in doom and gloom we risk becoming in it. Sometimes all it takes is to wake up and simply enjoy the sunrise over America,
Good Night and Good Luck
Hans Henrik Hoffmann October 4, 2013