As the Presidential campaign season heats us we face the perennial choice about who we want to be in charge. Nope, I am not referring to parties as such but the more fundamental choice about who is in charge of our lives, destinies, and the roads we take or don’t take with our lives. We Americans have a very strong history of an independent streak in us and a chary attitude toward government. That suspicion has served us very well over the last couple of centuries. It has been the leitmotiff of relationship between citizen and Government. For most of our history Government was not viewed as the first and favored solution to what might be ailing us. Remember why the early settlers came here in the first place. It was mostly to get away from “Government” and follow their own dreams and desires.
You will recall the Turner Thesis that posited that the American west was what and still does dominate the American culture and political movements. Those early pioneers took off from the East to move west once again mostly to live their own independent lives. The last thing they wanted was Mother Government giving them direction and issuing ukases about how to conduct their lives. The current housing and foreclosure bruhaha is a prime example of how some wish to extinguish that flame of individualism. So many proposals now and they all involve the Government doing something to help us. When I read of them they are merely bailing out people or institutions that made bad decisions and Mother will comfort them and make it all better. I have real problems with that. Failure should be the consequence of bad decisions or greed at all levels. Failure is the other side of the coin of success and to have the whole you must have both. Unless you want the Government to define success for you and be in control of ever move you make along the walk of life. If you believe that a safe timid life but one that is secure is the best and only route then you will favor that and I have no doubt many do prefer that approach. I only ask that our system allow room for us who wish to march with a little risk in our lives on occasion.
To be an arm chair general you should start with geography. Where is the water? The ports and the major waterways dominate your options and dictate so much of what you must do or can do. You should consider the Iraq conflict now and the turmoil with Iran and study a map of the area. Those rivers and the Persian Gulf control the area of conflict and if you ignore that fact you will pay the price. Just think how the water guided the development of our own nation. The ports of New York, Boston, Charlston the Cheasepeake Bay were destined to be areas of major influence. The same development of our nation can be tracked by our major rivers–the Hudson, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri and Potomac to name the most noteworthy. Remember the early pioneers went by water more than by wagon. More people went west down the Ohio than any other route.
Take those family photos. The day will come will they bring such a smile.