Pin It

Not Enough "We" 

click to enlarge comment2-1.jpg

"We the people of the United States..." So starts a story that continues to be written every day. Along the way, there have been ups and downs, war and peace, heroes and kooks, but we have generally worked, for 237 years now, toward a more perfect union. I think it's because of that one word at the start of the Preamble to our Constitution: "We."

That's a powerful name to encompass common cause, shared prosperity and the whole being bigger than the parts. United we stand.

Somehow "We" has given way to "Me," however, leading to a big "Sorry, We're Closed" sign hanging over our nation today.

But the "Me" was there at the start, too, right in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson's indictment of royal, decadent Europe. That's where he threw down the then-revolutionary notion that all men hold "certain, unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Of course Jefferson added, "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men," but everyone likes to remember the "Liberty" part most of all. We've even got a whole Statue of Liberty devoted to "Me."

So our my-way-or-the-highway politics aren't a complete surprise: It's "Me" on the steroids of unlimited election spending and endless campaigns. It's Thomas Wolfe's "Me Generation" finally putting the "Boom" in Baby Boomers. And if this was a movie, the catchphrase could be: "Works for me!"

The father of our country worried about the "Me" — especially in the form of me-first factions that we call political parties. He hated them. Parties, George Washington warned in his Farewell Address, can "become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp... the reins of government..."

Sound familiar?

Maybe America needs therapy? Psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust, so he viewed America as the hero — even as he saw our inner conflict. He analyzed our character in Man's Search for Meaning. "Freedom," he wrote, "is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness."

Degenerating into arbitrariness? Um, we're already there, Doc.

Perhaps a Statue of Obligation could remind us that balance is the key to America — between the freedom and the responsibility, the "Me" and the "We." Until then, it's left to the vast majority of us who live that balance to embrace and defend that crucial little word: "We." ♦


  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Fat Cats
  • Fat Cats

    What Larry the Cat and our Congress have in common
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Comparison Shopping
  • Comparison Shopping

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both candidates for president; that's where the similarities end
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • The Party of Pot
  • The Party of Pot

    Trail Mix: Party platforms and death of the "Never Trumps"
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone



election 2016

trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • A Persistent Life
  • A Persistent Life

    Scott Reed won more cases than he lost in life, and the beauty of the Coeur d'Alene area has been the beneficiary
    • May 27, 2015
  • Sacred Mt. Spokane
  • Sacred Mt. Spokane

    Economic possibility is not a good enough reason to destroy the Spokane Tribe's holy land
    • Jan 14, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation