On America

Monday Musings for Monday February 24, 2014

Volume 4. No. 8/164

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A Wake Up Call to America

By: Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

With the election cycle forthcoming, here are some reflections about our beloved country, America, originally designed to be a Republic, now seemingly leap-fogging toward socialism. Yes, our beloved country is going through a difficult time. We are stuck in two major wars sinking billions of dollars every week in black hole that sees no end. The economy is in a shambles. Many respected (and one-handed) economists who have opinions without inserting “…and on the other hand…” think that we are going through a double depression/recession- the “W” curve. Even Time magazine printed a cover story on George Washington with a black eye, his right eye. In ritual Masonry (our Founding Father was a Mason) this portend grave importance. Are we indeed that bad off?  I think not. I have a different view of America.

Eric Sevareid, one of the most respected commentators and sages of 1950s and 60s television, when the monster box had some redeeming features, said that if you open up the gates of all countries in the world and allow people to go where they please, they would choose the United States and Germany. Things have changed very little since the 1950s. People from all over the world want to come to America. The tsunami of immigrants, while horrifying and threatening, also points out the desirability of American citizenship. America, in spite of all the bad press, declining dollar, and looming financial depression, remains a bright beacon for liberty lovers and freedom seekers. Also, America’s strong, diversified, and vast economy provides possibilities, promises, and opportunities for self fulfillment to those who pursue them. A friend who recently visited Mexico told me that in some villages and small towns, there are no men, only women and children. Their men continue to come to America, to work and send money home, even though the trend is changing with the downturn of the economy.

America is decent because, unlike Pax Romana that conquered, destroyed, and gorged smaller nations in an unprecedented manner in the history of Neolithic man, America uses its power to bring justice, democracy, and equality to mankind. What other country on earth would change from bigotry and prejudice prevalent in the 1950s to having a woman and a black man as front runners of a major political party, and a black man for President? Where else on earth does a country offer its immigrant citizens the opportunity to meet their maximum potential educationally, spiritually, socially, financially, and emotionally? It is astonishing to see the son of an immigrant Kenyan as a United States Senator and now President? This is an unparalleled attribute of America, a nation of immigrants that is nowadays so undeservedly maligned. Looking at the election of a president in Kenya where opponents fight with bullets killing and stranding thousands of innocent citizens should give us reason to be grateful for our system of debate and ballot over guns and bullets. America’s supremacy of “the rule of law” is the envy of the world.

However, what is scary and threatening is the deterioration of America’s values and culture- values that God, through a deliberate plan, commissioned the founding fathers of our country to devise, articulate, and enshrine the United States Constitution, and values like the supremacy of rule of law, like primacy of education, pedagogy and patriotism, and personal responsibility. Alas, these values are being gradually replaced by a culture of dependency, martyrdom, victimhood, entitlement, and politicians who encourage the erosion of America’s values by promising more and more and rewarding the delinquent behavior of self-indulgence.

I read a fascinating book by an honorable and honored black colleague, Ben Carson, MD, professor and pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, Maryland, who truly epitomizes the fulfillment of American virtues and what it means to be an American. Dr. Carson has performed numerous delicate neurosurgical operations at Hopkins and throughout the world, including separation of twins conjoined in the head and brain. He is a consummate physician, skilled neurosurgeon, and has the soul of a Saint. He is a Moses Maimonides of Cordoba, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and the Muslim philosopher, theologian, and music lover, Ibn Khaldoun all wrapped in one package of decency and humility.

His book Take The Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk (Zondervan Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008) is inspirational. In it he talks of how education, and education alone, rescued him from the depths of a segregated neighborhood, marred by drugs and gangs, in Detroit, Michigan, to become one of the world’s most eminent neurosurgeons. He emphasizes (and admonishes) that America is on the slippery slopes of abandoning education and replacing it with sports and entertainment. He argues that America is producing 50 thousand engineers a year, while we need 350,000. How much longer can we import engineers from Bangalore, China, and other developing nations?  We are NOT producing nearly enough scientists. America ranks below Ethiopia and Somalia in math and basic science tests, and we do not know much about our own history, language, arts, and basic humanities that connect us with the rest of the world. Look at our daily newspapers: The sports section is the fattest, followed by the entertainment section. We reward coaches with enormous salaries and perks, often in the millions. Yet a dedicated professional teacher who trains and prepares our children for life as adults makes a meager salary and is often unable to make ends meet. Take the Risk is a wakeup call worth reading by parents, educators, rabid sports fans, and university chancellors.

Wake up America! Let’s all do our part to keep this country true to values of our forefathers. The education of our children should be our top priority.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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