I just read an op-ed by Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post. In it, Mr. Meyerson wonders whether we have become a nation that is unable to meet its challenges:
Watching the centrist Democrats in Congress create more and more reasons why health care can’t be fixed, I’ve been struck by a disquieting thought: Suppose our collective lack of response to Hurricane Katrina wasn’t exceptional but, rather, the new normal in America. Suppose we can no longer address the major challenges confronting the nation. Suppose America is now the world’s leading can’t-do country.
I’ve wondered the same thing lately. Why is it that we are the only industrial nation that can’t provide universal healthcare? What is our excuse for failing to lead on climate change? Don’t we realize that if we don’t get out front on alternative energy production someone else will, leaving us to play catch up or worse? When are we going to get serious about improving our educational system, especially in the areas of math and science? Are we ever going to understand that we are not the center of the universe and that the rest of the world does not exist primarily to cater to us? The list goes on and on….
Sometimes I think we care more about proclaiming ourselves "the greatest country on earth" than in truly achieving greatness. Let’s be clear. A country that has so many under-educated citizens can not achieve its potential, nevermind true greatness. A country that refuses to provide for its less fortunate, isn’t great; it’s thoughtless, cruel, and selfish. A country that refuses to lead will eventually have to follow. And a country that hides its head in the sand will someday smother itself.
Maybe it’s time that we have a national conversation about who we Americans really are and what we truly want to achieve in this world and how we’re going to do so. Maybe it’s time for some honesty. Harold Meyerson is on to something, I fear.