In 1948, my cargo boat, docked in New York Harbor. Looking at the statue of Liberty, and sky scrapers, was overwhelming. The absence of check points between the states blew my mind! Instead, I saw “Pennsylvania welcomes you”. “Maryland welcomes you”,” Virginia welcomes you”.
While at the Americanization School, in Washington, D.C, with immigrants from many countries, we learned the basic history of the United States, the constitution, and Democracy. President Harry Truman was running for election, against Gov. Thomas Dewey, of New York. One morning, Harry Truman held the front page of the New York Times, declaring Dewey, as the elected president! But the votes declared otherwise. Dewey, congratulated Truman, and wished him well. I saw this again, with Al Gore and G.W. Bush. Al Gore disagreed with the one Supreme Court vote in favor of Bush, but he accepted defeat, congratulated Bush, and said that the county was more important than he. And, when John McCain, lost to President Obama, he immediately congratulated the newly elected president, and said: “He is now my president”!—statesmanship at its finest.
In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt, told the nation about the 4 freedoms: Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion, Freedom from want, and freedom from fear. We seldom locked our doors. We never feared walking anywhere, and we respected the separation of church and state. We trusted the news, and Walter Cronkite was never questioned. About 6% of the population was on food stamps, and rarely saw homeless on the streets. But in the 70s, things began to change, gradually, but relentlessly. . We started to lose our freedom from fear– afraid to walk alone in our streets, our kids afraid to go to school, afraid to go to a place of worship. Security systems and surveillance cameras, became ubiquitous, and police guards in every public building. Our government representatives are afraid to vote their conscious, citizens afraid to serve on juries, judges afraid to render justice. Dictatorships rule by fear, not consent; fear of government and of each other. Press: It is difficult to separate news form entertainment, and facts from fiction. Is that what we want and deserve?
Want: In 2023, 12.5% of our citizens, double that of the 70s, receive food stamps, and the streets of our cities, are occupied by homeless citizens. The election of 2020 led to the destruction and desecration of our capital, the temple of democracy; not by a foreign foe, but by many of our fellow citizens. That election is still contested by many.
This is not the America I knew and loved.
What kind of America will we leave to our children and grandchildren? Ben Franklin said “we have a republic if we can keep it.” John Adams said “I have yet to see a democracy that did not commit suicide.”. Are we slowly committing suicide? Is our republic slowly dying, that, our grandchildren will know not, when it had died?
I cry and pray, for my beloved country, the United States of America—a beautiful country, created by the people and for the people. Only we,, the people, can save it. Only we, the people, can destroy it.
Rashid Abdu, M.D. F.A.C.S.