Like the vast majority of Americans I am saddened and disillusioned by the continued ratcheting up of the hate filled speeches and rhetoric which fill the political discourse of the day. It was inevitable that violence would spill from the hate filled environment that has been created in our nation, and we unfortunately witnessed that again last week with the shootings that occurred in Arlington, Virginia.
The lone gunman that perpetrated that cowardly act does not represent my nation or anyone I choose to call a patriot. He was a deranged and sick individual that did not stand for anything this great nation and our heritage has so proudly stood for over these 241 years since our founding.
We have many challenges within our borders that face our nation today. Those challenges will only be appropriately dealt with through intelligent discourse, ingenuity, reasoning and hard work. Violence never will solve the social, racial or the political challenges that face us as a people. Those issues will only be solved when reasoned men and women come together to find solutions and put the blame game behind us.
As a people we must become better informed regarding the issues of the day. The responsibility to help find reasonable solutions lies first with our commitment as citizens to understand the issues and not rely on others to lead us like sheep by the use of slick words or slogans.
When our Founding Fathers penned the Declaration of Independence all those many years ago, they did so in believing in the value of the individual. They understood the need to recognize the inherent value in the ability of the individual to guide his or her destiny, and therefore that of the nation.
Each and every individual has much to offer society in their own way and we must be prepared to accept those contributions based upon the good they can offer humanity. This relates to all matters which lie before us, and has no relationship to the color of a person’s skin, their religion, nation of origin or their political party. Instead it has to do with only the fact we share one common denominator; we are Americans, one and all.
We must tear away these terrible “labels” we’ve placed on individuals and be prepared to deal with the issues rather than the “labels.” We are all Americans first and not Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives.
Whether it be in education, healthcare or the environment, there can be middle ground that must be found to insure we meet those challenges as we move forward. No one would dare debate the fact that there are issues regarding health care that must be addressed. The costs have spiraled out of control over the last several decades and that must be addressed, amongst many other items that need attention.
Immigration is another area that needs a steady hand and reasoned approach to addressing those issues and not the name calling and bigoted hate speech that has been associated with it the last two decades.
Those that choose to come here with an intention to break our laws, prey on the defenseless or act in a way to bring shame and dishonor to their heritage should be immediately expelled from our nation and dealt with in a swift and decisive manner.
That does leave a number who have broken the laws regarding entry and some who have lived here for decades, raising their families, paying taxes and participating as good citizens; for them the challenge is greater for our nation and a reasoned and intelligent approach much be found, not a knee jerk reaction.
The air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we live off must be a priority in our lives. It should not become another political football, instead we must find a balanced approach to insuring we don’t ruin the wonderful gift God has granted to us, but still be able to utilize those resources he also provided.
We are the nation that has sent men to the moon and back. There is no reason that we cannot apply that same brilliance to how we deal with the challenges regarding the environment and how to better co-exist within it.
On July 4th we’ll celebrate our nation’s birthday. That celebration should not only be about independence from our former British landlord. Instead we should reflect on our responsibilities as individuals in maintaining the dream of our Founding Fathers of a nation that Ronald Reagan would describe as a “Shining City on a Hill.” We must make a difference, as Reagan said in his farewell speech from the Oval Office, if we are to maintain this wonderful place we call home.
Happy 4th of July folks and God bless America.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced awardwinning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com