The hours of daylight have waned and the temperature has dropped. Across the country many are rushing to complete shopping, making last minute preparations for the holiday agenda, or packing their bags to be in the company of loved ones. Throughout American neighborhoods and cities, the familiar sights and sounds of gleaming lights and sentimental songs all herald the arrival of Christmas. It is interesting that a holiday, whose central theme is the redemption of mankind, is followed by the start of a new year. However, in a time that is usually reserved for the aspirations of “peace on earth” and “good will toward men,” the reality we see in the news is much more grim.
Tensions have risen between the U.S. and Iran with the recent capturing of a U.S. military drone. This comes amidst the strong possibility of Iran engaging in the development of nuclear weapons to use to whatever nightmarish ends. In response, the Iranian military has conducted naval maneuvers to seal the off the Strait of Hormuz which would result, in addition to many other things, in a harsh spike in gas prices.
China continues to affront the U.S. economy by raising tariffs on American imported automobiles. This will have an adverse effect on the industry, which has struggled to stay afloat with government bailout funds. Over the past year China has proposed replacing the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency, which could raise gas prices and harm the American economy.
The nation is finding itself in tense division as Occupy Wall Street encampments have encysted many major cities around the country. Civil discord is on the rise as the presence and actions of these protesters have discouraged the influx of patronage to local businesses and incited inappropriate actions taken by several law enforcement authorities.
Perhaps the most troubling news this Christmas: growth of the gross domestic product remains stagnant. Because of this, unemployment numbers remain high, and U.S. debt continues to increase.
The weight of our nation’s grave circumstances abroad and domestically is brought to bear on the shoulders of the American people. The burden is felt at our gas pumps, in our bank accounts, at home, and in our hearts. In spite of this, the Christmas season has inspired in me hope (a word that is still untainted, in my opinion by political demagoguery), prompting a wish list for America:
1. In the coming year we will apply a vigilant observation and understanding of the candidate we support.
As conservatives, we value a strong sense of responsibility. If we are to truly be a government that is “of the people, by the people,” then we must make an awareness of the legislative actions taken by our elected officials a crucial priority. We must evaluate our candidates objectively like an employer would to a potential hire rather than brashly supporting them like a football team.
2. We will live our values honorably by example.
We extol the virtue of great aspirations tempered with hard work. “The Pursuit of Happiness” is one of the most important phrases in the English language. It is vital that we put as much effort towards “the pursuit” as we do dream for the “happiness.” I cannot think of a better way to communicate our core American ideals than working hard, planning well, and achieving success.
3. We will be more civil and loving in our discourse with those who disagree.
This is a wish of particular importance to me. This is not so much a wish regarding politicians so much as it is one concerning our liberal neighbors. Regardless of how misguided and ridiculous a democrat or progressive view is, there is no justification for rudeness solely over a disagreement with our fellow Americans. While we should always hold firm and be vocal regarding our conservative convictions, we have to stop throwing rhetoric and insults at each other and start intelligently engaging on the issues, even if such considerations are not mutual. The tension in our country over party politics is almost unbearable as we are the most politically divided as we have been in a generation. How can we expect Congress to accomplish anything if we, as a people, can’t communicate and find common ground? An argument is useless and makes you look as foolish as your opponent. A discussion makes someone learn, think, and change. As Benjamin Franklin advised “Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them.”
4. We will, as individuals, be fiscally responsible.
We must make a personal commitment to plan accordingly, work hard, and save money. We have to be careful to make sound decisions regarding our spending and live within our means. This means relying on government funds as little possible, and paying back our loans. The more our personal debt belongs to a deficit strained government, the more liberty we lose.
5. We will not be slaves of the wonderful conveniences that we have been blessed with.
We have to put down the phone for minute and escape the digital confines of our social networking. We need to spend more attention and time in the company of our parents, siblings, children, or spouses. We need to be friendlier and more engaging to the people we normally ignore. The American people have a low morale; we must lift each other up with encouragement and kindness. The recent news of a generous patrons paying for the lay-away items of strangers at various discount stores affirmed my belief that American individuals are much more qualified to distribute charity than the government.