Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Concerns and Challenges Abound For America

I am generally a positive and upbeat person about our nation and the direction of our culture.  But lately, I am fraught with concerns.  While I am confident in the ingenuity, initiative, and creativity of the American people and in the system our forebearers layed out, it seems prudent to occassionally be constructively critical and to articulate problems we face.

I have listed below 10 concerns I have as we continue to move forward.  I recommend you consider your own list of concerns as well.  While much work, discussion, consideration, and focus must be brought around these issues, here, concisely, are my 10 biggest and most urgent concerns for America:

I.  Legislative leaders in America are not at all responsive to the people they purport to lead and represent.  They are controlled by, and responsive to, the special interests who finance the expensive re-election campaigns in which they engage.  "The people" must regain control of the system.

II.  America, and particularly the people in positions of power in America, do not exhibit any sense of urgency regarding climate change and the climate catastrophes which are resulting. We ignore this issue to the peril of our descendants.

III.  Organized religious institutions, critical to previous cultures, seem extremely stagnant, unresponsive, and unwilling to adapt to the faith and spiritual needs of a 21st century world.  The fault certainly lies as much with the flock as with the leadership, but it is a critical issue which the collective body of the church must address.  Faith, attention to that which is "greater and larger than ourselves", is essential.

VI.  The wealth, ideological, knowledge, and cultural gap in America continues to accelerate.  Unlike the past, we seldom interact with, listen to, or respect, those with attitudes, values, opinion, and beliefs different from ours.  There appears to be no discussion, and very little concern or recognition, of this dilemma.  The wealth gap and divide in America is becoming obscene.  This is dangerous and bodes very poorly for our future as a culture.

V.   The culture of inner city poverty, drugs, crime, violence, and hopelessness, a long-time problem, appears to have become an accepted way of life, with its own subculture.  This will, at some point, destroy our great cities and a large population of our people, if focus, hope, jobs, and resources are not more vigorously committed and forthcoming.  When any one of our people is in distress, most certainly we are all, collectively, in distress.

VI.  The issue of health care costs, quality, and access, while beginning to be addressed, will be a serious economic problem for America for the foreseeable future.  Our divisive approach to a solution makes successful resolution doubtful.  Cost and financing is the major challenge for the future.  Resolution will require major cultural change in attitudes toward the delivery and the consumption of health care.

VII.  The issue of debt for our nation, for all governmental units, and for our companies and families, continues to go unaddressed to any serious degree. We must come to the realization that we must spend less, be taxed more fairly, and be more productive as a culture.

VIII.  The issue of long-term care for the "baby boom generation" is a rarely discussed or addressed issue and dilemma, which is just around the corner.  The economic implications are enormous for America.

IX.  The obsession with, and the amount of resources dedicated to, the institution of sports in America (and I plead guilty as charged) reflects poorly on our values and keeps us from more effectively addressing more urgent cultural needs and challenges.

X.  Citizens of the world must take the time to focus on, and commit themselves to, the teachings of the great religious and philosophical thinkers, teachers, and leaders who have emphasized the principles of responsibility, industry, service, peace, courage, reconciliation, compassion, forgiveness, cooperation, sacrifice, hope, and love of one's neighbor as one's self.  A focus on the teachings and lives of Jesus, Gandhi, Lama, King, Wesley, Teresa, Calvin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt, Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, B. Graham, and other great philosophers, thinkers, leaders, and theologians, is critical. Only then will continued peaceful coexistence and growth be possible.  It is our great command and our obligation.

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