• Is This the Flag of Riches to Rags?

    by  • November 27, 2011 • Leadership, Life

    State of AmericaI’m a Canadian on assignment in California. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining a group of 12 for American Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a much bigger deal down here than it is above the 49th parallel. The days around the holiday are the most travelled of the year. Families and friends come together to give thanks. Strangers wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Americans believe no one should be alone on Thanksgiving. I’m certain that’s the reason my wife and I scored that dinner invitation.

    On reflection of this nation’s celebration, I soon came to realize that Thanksgiving epitomizes America the Good. You see kindness in the people. That’s not to say they are always civilized to one another, especially in political debate; right and left wing positions are as hardened as ever. Yet, apart from an insatiable race for the almighty buck and a few other vices I’ll not mention, American values are admirable.

    This brings me to the tattered flag that hangs in shame from my neighbor’s California beach house. Not only on the homeland, but throughout the world the Stars & Stripes has stood for American ideals such as liberty, happiness and equality for all. The red, white and blue rag that I see every day is an outrage. Yet, I cannot avoid the tattered rag’s symbolism – that of a once great nation, now burdened by debt, unemployment, homelessness, and divisiveness. Any student of history will tell you that every great nation eventually crumbles when it succumbs to complacency – when its leaders and its citizens forget that “privilege” does not mean “right.”  Home ownership is an example of a privilege. The harder you work for this privilege, the more you appreciate it, like anything else in life that requires sacrifice.

    Like a troubled company swimming in red ink, America has its work cut out for it. Politicians say they have the “will” but they seldom show the “way.”  Maybe it is time to return to those old fashioned values, the ones that built this country in the first place – what harm could come from hard work, personal sacrifice and acceptance of responsibility? I’ve a hunch bringing these values back into the family unit might be a heck of a good start.

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    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Historical Novelist, Business Journalist

    4 Responses to Is This the Flag of Riches to Rags?

    1. November 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      John, I enjoyed your post. America is a nation of ideas. Anyone can become an American if they adopt our ideas and values. But, being a country of ideas comes with risk. Historically, America gets into trouble whenever we as nation abandon our core ideas and values. We’re currently experiencing one of those times. Most folks, even those in government, know what is necessary for the country to succeed. However, virtually everyone in government seems unwilling or unable to act. These are strange and challenging times. Thank you for sharing your perspective. You chose to look at the serious side of Thanksgiving. In my blog post (http://wp.me/p1h0KY-bn), I chose to take a more fun look. Now that the holiday has passed, it’s time to get back to being serious about our challenges.

    2. John
      November 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Enjoyed your insight, Michael. You are quite right, I took the serious side of Thanksgiving. That flag has bothered me since I moved down here two months ago. Thanksgiving happened to be the ‘hook’ I needed to write a blog about my outrage. I still find it quite amazing that another nation’s flag, allowed to go to ruin would raise such emotion in a foreigner. But because of that rag, I’m now closer to America.

    3. December 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

      We love your posts John. They are all very insightful. Particularly this one. It’s good to see the view points of our nation from a travelers perspective. It’s one of the reasons I like to travel. I always come home with a new set of eyes and vision of my country…

      • John
        December 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

        Since the Cold War, America has come under constant criticism by the rest of the world – some of it justified. This little vignette brought to light an opportunity to recognize the good in America. I was delighted to witness it and share it.