Ronald Reagan first spoke of the “shining city upon a hill” in January of 1974 and referred back to it many times throughout his life. A pilgrim named John Winthrop first wrote about it, describing an America he imagined would one day be. In these tumultuous times, with terrorists waging holy war against us, a dysfunctional government doing everything within (and outside of ) it’s authority to save us (and thereby perhaps doom us), and the threat of economic collapse on the horizon the city upon a hill may not seem as shiny as it once was. History tells us we have faced worst and come thru it. It seems reasonable to believe we as a nation will survive whatever evil comes our way.
To be sure we are in one hell of a mess. We being most of the civilized world and pretty much everyone else as well. Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Latvia, Hungary and more are in financial ruin. None have the resources to save themselves or repay their multiple bailouts. Many others like France, Great Britain and the US are writing bad checks. At this point the world economy is a house of cards and a strong wind is coming in from the east. The euro is on a path to worthlessness and American presses are busy printing Dollars . All over Eastern Europe & the West massive cuts in social programs are being enacted or being discussed in an attempt to ward off the inevitable collapse of these various economies. Their citizenry aren’t taking kindly to this. Riots, flash mob looting and violence are today’s tools of revolt. Socialism fought poverty…. And Socialism lost. Lately it is happening in our own front yard. It seems inevitable that it will get worst….. much worst.
January 27, 1996 President Clinton announced “the era of big government is over”. This after reaching agreement on a balanced budget with the republican controlled congress. Unfortunately it didn’t stick. Soon the weight of our own social engineering will force the issue and our government and it’s spending will shrink regardless of whether the people are ready for it or not. Whispers urge to prepare for the worst and pray for anything short of that. Some listen…. Most do not.
Not all is lost, There may still be time to turn this all around. There are smart and patriotic people all over the country, and many are in a position to effect change. Even those in powerful positions who still cling to the old way will soon realize our new reality.
They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where — because of our past excesses — it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true. I don’t believe that. And, I don’t believe you do either. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don’t agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world. – Ronald Wilson Reagan
We don’t know what might come of all this, we hope people much smarter than us can figure it all out, can reach out and pull us back from the brink. For our children’s and their children’s future we truly do hope it turns out so. But if not, if our country, our way of life changes profoundly, perhaps in the future historians will look back at this time as we have looked back at the time when our country was first born. That this was the beginning of a return to the constitution we were founded on, and it has led us to the greatest years this country and it’s people have ever known.
Let us resolve tonight that young Americans will always … find there a city of hope in a country that is free…. And let us resolve they will say of our day and our generation, we did keep the faith with our God, that we did act worthy of ourselves, that we did protect and pass on lovingly that shining city on a hill.” — Election Eve speech, Nov. 3, 1980- Ronald Reagan