At the end of each day we should play back the tapes of our performance. The results should either applaud us or prod us. Likewise, as we look at the past year, perhaps we should ask the same question.
On the national level, 2016 has been a tumultuous year. The United States of America has gone through a serious debate between liberalism and conservatism, between globalism and nationalism, between self-reliance or reliance on the state.
Our second president, John Adams, once said that “facts are stubborn things”. As President Obama leaves office, we find more people surviving on food stamps, more people having left the workforce, our borders wide open, a national debt that has doubled, and a foreign policy where our allies cannot rely on us and our enemies do not fear us.
President-elect Donald Trump is promised to take us in a different direction, with repeal of President Obama’s executive orders. Whatever he accomplishes, I would remind him that the challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude. Be kind, but not weak. Be bold, but not a bully. Be thoughtful, but not lazy. Be humble, but not timid. Be proud, but not arrogant. Have humor, but without folly.
President John Kennedy reminded us that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future. Our problems are man-made, and they can be solved by man.
Ironically, most of the problems confronting our Congress are problems they have created themselves. Every law they create must be scrutinized for its “ripple effect”. We can never indulge the juvenile idea that “we must vote for it to find out what’s in it”, as Rep. Pelosi demanded.
One of the great liberal documents of the world is the Declaration of Independence. One of the great conservative documents of the world is the Constitution of the United States. We need both documents to build a country. One to get it started – liberal. And the other to help maintain its structure over the years – conservative.
For those in our society who are striving for a better life: I would remind them that anyone who is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else. Life asked us to make measurable progress in a reasonable time. That’s why they make those fourth-grade chairs so small.
Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, once provided the following piece of advice: The best motivation is self-motivation. Some people say to themselves, “I wish someone would come by and turn me on.” What if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan for your life.
“If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
I suppose the real title for this brief note could be “Personal Accountability”. For many years, we have all witnessed the mendacity of many bureaucrats controlling governmental departments, which significantly affect our lives on a personal level. It is an insult to us all when we find unethical and/or illegal activity being either ignored or found acceptable by those we elected to office.
James Madison, our fourth president, once said that “all men having power ought to be distrusted”; he was right then and he is correct today. You can’t run a society or cope with its problems if people are not held accountable for what they do. We do that in our families and we have a right to expect the same in our government.
There are some who have said to me, “What is the use of getting involved?” I would borrow one of the quotes from Plato: “One of the penalties for not participating in politics is that you will be governed by your inferiors.” Let us pray that 2017 brings us all good health and prosperity.