Thursday, April 20, 2023

Discovering a New National Identity

A nation without borders is not a nation at all. And a country without common cultural denominators and at least a patchwork set of shared objective moral principles undisputed in the public sphere cannot hope to foster a healthy society for it's people and their posterity. 

The writer is not a political academic in the professional sense. He is not a cosmopolitan, nor an affluent member of society privy to the company of elite members of the wealthy social caste stationed comfortably behind gated estates, immune to the chaotic and sometimes troubling scenes of ordinary contemporary American life. Hailing from a working class background, he is an honest, blue collar and humble man. He offers only his forthright opinions on a current social problem from the perspective of a youth reared in a conservative, christian, patriotic and traditional American family.

It is obvious to any American with a rudimentary knowledge of national and cultural history that the United States is not the same country, culturally or ethnically speaking, that it was a half century ago. Indeed, comparing the cultural composition of an average community in the United States from 1776-1965 in comparison to the United States from 1965-the present will reveal a myriad of differences at many levels. It is no secret that there are many challenges that the nation faces in the present from a foreign and international standpoint; these include a rising and aggressive communist China, declining military capabilities and a nascent cooperative relationship between Iran, China, and Russia forming in opposition to America on the world stage. These are troubling developments.

But the writer would argue that the problems the country faces at the domestic level are far more dangerous to the future of the United States than any foreign predicament. These domestic problems include but are not limited to: rising divorce rates and declining marriage rates, a slowing birth rate and a decline in the white population in the 2020 census for the first time in the history of the country, and a decline in religion and christian influence amongst the general population. Symptoms of these larger issues include a sharp increase in deaths of despair (mental health and suicide), an addiction epidemic amongst the nations youth propelled by fentanyl, heroine and other opiates, the canker of modern feminist culture which has created dysfunction in youthful romantic relationships and destroyed traditional dating etiquette, the indoctrination of American children in public schools, an overly sexualized education curriculum in many states at the grammar school level, the disparagement and revision of American history, and the assault of the nuclear family. 

Compounding all of these issues amongst the already established and native American population is the unfettered and uncontrollable surge of millions of illegal alien migrants from south America and across the world through a porous southern border. Make no mistake; while immigration in both legal and illegal terms into the U.S. from continents outside Europe has steadily increased since 1965 and the effects of this immigration has created more problems than benefits, the recent tide of illegal migration into the country brought about by the feckless Biden administrations border policies has created an unprecedented issue. It is estimated that over 4 million illegals have crossed the border since 2020 alone; this number is likely higher. The reader may be asking- what does illegal immigration have to do with the established American community and its problems?

This begs the question: What is a nation? Is it simply a speck of land on a geographical map? Is it an economic machine and an entity simply existing for profit? 

Or is it perhaps a culture, fostered, carried, and comprised by its people- who, bound together by a shared language, customs, and faith, with a reverence for and a tangible connection to their history, existing over a defined geographical area which also holds a larger and deeper meaning in the generational, historic and spiritual sense? 

For a moment, let us step away from the philosophical, and return to reality. The writer will now use an example of a deep-rooted and distinctly American community to illustrate national identity. 

In the writers hometown, there has been significant social and economic changes in the region over the last four decades. But nonetheless, the roots of this community, in cases dating back to the early 19th century, in some areas have been resilient enough to remain intact in the present day. For the sake of anonymity, the names of a family used as an example of community will be changed to the letter "B". 

The "B" family has lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey for over ten generations. With a proud family history dating back to the 1670s in the region, the "B" family has carefully preserved the knowledge of their lineage and roots. Grandfathers served in the New Jersey Militia during the revolutionary war and aided Washington and the Continental Army during the nearby battle of Monmouth, and another fought for the Union in the New Jersey Calvary in the Civil War. A church which the current members of the family still attend to this day was built by their ancestors in 1861. The youngest male in the "B" family often says with a source of pride that his "ancestors literally put the nails in the roof of my church". Generations of family members have been buried in the churchyard, side by side, for over a century. The "B" family boasts a long lineage of hardworking, land owning men; from farmers, to teachers, to machinists, to mechanics, in every generation they have been employed in professions of skill, discipline, and humility. Generations of women have been loving mothers, valuable and influential community members, and charitable and impactful at every level. These women were responsible for communitarian charitable efforts and the proper raising of generations of contributing citizens and moral men and women. Some held professions of their own- as school teachers, nurses, clerks and other jobs. Across town, many locally recognizable surnames intermingle, each with a distinct root- some were Dutch, others English or Irish, or German. In one region of town, black Americans whose ancestors arrived in the area following the Civil War still remain in family homes passed down for generations. And while many farms have been paved over for housing, many others still remain- the soil still rich, the farmers still tilling and planting, the roots of the families still strong on the land their forefathers settled. 

Each year in this community, on the fourth of July, the Declaration is read aloud at 9 o'clock in the morning at the center of town. A street is barricaded and closed to traffic, and local residents gather, together reciting the words of the document that put clearly to paper the sentiments of a fledgling nation searching for identity, creating the voice of the American Revolution. In this annual activity, with reverence for their founding generation, the members of this community not only display patriotism and national pride, but they reaffirm their belief and commitment to the ideals set out in the declaration, which created the bedrock of traditional American culture. Throughout the summer, there are community days open to the public, boasting car shows, amusement rides, and musical performances. The battle of Monmouth is re-enacted every year, and on memorial day, volunteers place flags on the graves of local veterans. For the Christmas season, carolers are sometimes found on main street outside the town hall of records, and the streets are adorned with lights and wreaths. Church bells still ring. In ordinary life, local bars which have operated for decades welcome the same locals after the work day. Several bowling allies operate, and are filled nightly with enthusiastic individuals participating in local leagues. In the local municipal building, the local government holds a weekly meeting and residents often arrive to partake in the practice of local governance. On Sunday mornings in the spring, summer, and fall, a small farmers market is held outside the building, where local farms sell their produce. In this town, even with all the development which has occurred and continues to alter the landscape of the area, even with all the influxes of people moving in from out-of-state (and in some cases even out of country), fragments of community and social cohesion still remain, alive and well, accessible for all who seek them out. 

In a long manner, the writer is attempting to paint a picture of an average American community which in the present still retains a somewhat traditional identity. In communities across the nation, the writer is certain a similar picture can be envisioned, no matter the state or region. And while every one of these communities, including the one discussed, faces issues aforementioned (especially amongst the youth), the challenges in themselves are not insurmountable if the community is allowed time to reform and assimilate new members into the fabric. 

Much like a glue which dries and connects objects to one another in an art project, the American community which faces serious problems and a decline in social cohesion at many levels can be saved, IF the community at large is allowed to "solidify"- that is- to form a new identity without the disturbance or significant alteration in composition over a short period of time. 

Therefore, in a long rambling conclusion, the writer asserts the notion, that in order to save the historic American culture, a sense of social cohesion and national identity, with the hopes of once again creating a vibrant and unified public free from the divisive, toxic and polarizing times of the present, that the federal governing body of the United States fulfill its constitutional duty to provide for the security of the nation by strongly countering the waves of illegal migrants arriving at the southern border. Should this initial step be accomplished, congress should then seek to reform legal immigration policy in America. 

As Teddy Roosevelt stated: 

"There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all... The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities... each preserving its separate nationality, each at the heart feeling more sympathy with... that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else."

Whatever the nation of origin, and wherever the ethnic enclave may exist- matters not. If America is to survive, immigration in all senses must be significantly restricted in the immediate future- so that we may hope to have the posterity of the many groups of people who have immigrated here over the past several decades be able to assimilate into the fabric of existing American culture. As a nation, we are at a crossroads, and the American youth at large is misguided, lost, and empty.

Let me be clear- the American Community of the 1950s is dead. But perhaps, with the help of providence, the right governance at the Federal level, and the willpower, patriotism, and shared civic efforts of Americans across the nation who understand what it means to live in the lifestyle of that historic culture, we may build a new cohesive national identity.

This identity, must originate within the community. From every city block, or country road, Americans must unite and persevere.

"One of the signs of a great society is the diligence with which it passes culture from one generation to the next. This culture is the embodiment of everything the people of that society hold dear: its religious faith, its heroes... when one generation no longer esteems it's own heritage and fails to pass the torch to its children, it is saying in essence that the very foundational principles and experiences that make the society what it is are no longer valid. This leaves that generation without any sense of definition or direction, making them the fulfillment of Karl Marx's dictum, 'A people without a heritage are easily persuaded'. What is required, when this happens and the society has lost its way, is for leaders to arise, who have not forgotten the discarded legacy and who love it with all their hearts. They can then become the voice of that lost generation, wooing an errant generation back to the faith of their fathers, back to the ancient foundations and bedrock values..." 
-Winston Churchill.  


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