Bob Tamasy: A Day To Celebrate – Or Not?

Thursday, July 3, 2014
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Independence Day can’t get here soon enough. The United States needs a patriotic booster shot. Lee Greenwood’s ”Proud to Be an American” might be suffering from embarrassment. We need to soak up some “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and other festive marches, and stirring fireworks shows. It’s time to get good ole American bounce back in our step.

I’ve long considered myself a patriot. I attribute that in part to having been born on July 4, while my dad was serving in the U.S. Army. Yep, I’m one of those Yankee doodle dandies – although my degree of “dandiness” is up for debate. 

To this day spotting an American flag waving in the breeze makes me smile. On football Saturdays I bleed Scarlet and Gray, but all other days I’m a red, white and blueblood. Annually on Independence Day I’ve been all-in. Flag T-shirts, patriotic concerts, pyrotechnics, the whole shebang – and boom. Not only because it’s my birthday (I won’t tell how many I’ve had), but because I’ve always felt the United States was unique, unlike any other nation in history.

But lately American pride has taken a beating. Kind of like an American flag I spotted many years ago, unfurled in the front yard of a private residence in Ohio. It was flying in shreds. “Old Glory” had known better days at that home. Being the stalwart patriot I was even then, I photographed the tattered banner and published the image in the local newspaper I was editing. The accompanying caption suggested no flag should be displayed in such condition. (The homeowner, while unnamed, still was not pleased with such attention.) 

I’m thinking the image of our nation finds itself in similar tatters these days. It’s not just attitudes toward the United States around the world. It’s the values, the culture of our country – what it was, and what it’s become. I’m a traditionalist, and while I appreciate the great strides we’ve made in overcoming racism and discrimination of many kinds, we’ve forgotten the distinctions between rights and privileges, liberty and license, freedom and foolishness.

This wondrous “land of opportunity” is turning into the “land of entitlement.” The grit and determination that forged our national work ethic have taken a hit, disintegrating into belief that people “deserve” certain wages regardless of respective levels of responsibility, initiative and authority. Burger flippers are demanding almost as much compensation as nurses and teachers. 

Political and ideological divides besetting the U.S.A. threaten to make us more “untied” than “United.” Factions insist there’s only one way these days, “our way.” Rather than a citizenry pulling together to secure and safeguard common ground, everyone nurses agendas, intent on foisting them on everyone else.

Historical revisionists will howl and argue to the contrary, but faith was vital to the fabric of our nation for most of its existence. Today, faith has become anathema for many people despite having benefited from principles and values championed by our Judeo-Christian heritage. 

Recently I was reminded of a statement credited to historian Alexander Tyler, although others attribute it to Alexander Fraser Tytler. Who knows? But it’s worth reading nevertheless:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. 

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations, from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage."

Hopefully the United States can escape this dismal cycle. But in any event, it heartens me to know that although I swell with American pride without apology, my true citizenry lies elsewhere. The Bible offers these perspectives:

“We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope” (1 Chronicles 29:15).

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world…” (1 Peter 2:11). 

The Scriptures declare all Christ followers are “aliens and strangers” in this world, eagerly awaiting the world and life to come. That, regardless of whether the U.S. of A. still deserves being called the United States, is where my hope lies. 

* * * 

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.



Pinky Up For Freedom Event Set For July 28 At City Church Chattanooga

A women's tea luncheon, "Pinky Up For Freedom," benefiting Adult & Teen Challenge Midsouth, will be held on Saturday, July 28 at City Church Chattanooga, 7122 Lee Hwy.  Doors open at 11:30 a.m., table viewing and silent auction will be held at 11:45 a.m. and the tea luncheon will begin at 12:30 p.m.  Tickets may be purchased here . (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: I’m With Him

Being a journalist for most of my life has had its perks. Lucrative compensation wasn’t among them, unfortunately, but I did get to go to some interesting places. I had the privilege of meeting the late, highly respected Dr. Richard Halverson in the U.S. Senate Building when he was chaplain of the Senate. I got to go up to an exclusive restaurant atop one of the World Trade Center ... (click for more)

Former City Education Commissioner John P. Franklin Dies

John Porter Franklin, long a leading figure in Chattanooga city government, has died.  He was the city's first, elected black official, post Jim Crow laws, in 1971. Mr. Franklin's father, G.W. Franklin, was a pioneer funeral home director and John Franklin continued in that line. He was first an official in Franklin-Strickland Funeral Home, then he started John P. Franklin ... (click for more)

All School Board Members But Rhonda Thurman Approve Going Ahead With Equity Study

All County School Board members except Rhonda Thurman said Thursday afternoon they are in favor of pushing ahead with an equity study sought by new Supt. Bryan Johnson. Ms. Thurman said she was "tired of bullying tactics by outside groups" such as UnifiEd and Chattanooga 2.0. She said the 132 people who signed a letter in support of the study include people "with deep pockets" ... (click for more)

The Boss, Claude Ramsey

I try not to overuse the word great, but we lost a great man today, Claude Ramsey. I had the pleasure of serving under him as director of Commercial and Industrial Properties for 14 years while he was the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. He was probably the smartest person I have ever known. He was tough but patient, kind, caring and compassionate. He knew how to get ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Not A Blessed One

When I read, to no great surprise, that 132 of Chattanooga’s “leaders” had signed a letter in support of “socioeconomic integration” in Thursday’s Times Free Press, there were two things that were immediately obvious to me: Not a blessed one would have (a) written such a letter on their personal stationery, and (b) not a blessed one would have ever voted for the current president ... (click for more)