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Over the summer of 2010 I began to ask myself, "what do you do if two of our Rights, as citizens of these United States, are diametrically opposed?" I came to the only viable conclusion: you compromise. Our great Nation works when there is compromise.
Right now most of you will agree with me that our political system is broken. What we currently have is: the politics of destruction; special interest groups who have the power and money to dictate policy; politicians who must spend their time raising money for the next election instead of doing the People's business; and, there are those who are so concerned about getting re-elected they cede their responsibilities to the citizenry to those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats.
The attacks that we were inundated with during the this election cycle belittled the democratic process. Shame on everyone involved. And, shame on the political obstructionists who are more interested in gaining and maintaining power than doing the people’s business. During these very difficult times all of us should be supporting our President. The challenge for all of us is, how do we improve upon this imperfect union that we call the United States of America? One thing I know for certain...it is not by dividing us.
I can remember when I was sixteen years old there was a day when my father called out to me, "Jackie, come quickly. You have to hear this. It's Winston Churchill. Come listen." I raced to the radio and for the first time heard a recording of Churchill's speech to a Nation standing alone against the greatest evil the world has ever known: "...we shall defend our island no matter what the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; and we shall not surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until in God's good time, the New World, with all it's power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of The Old."
That day my hero was born. Where are our heroes today? jkt
Longing for a more peaceful future for our Nation, I look forward, not backward. Jaded, I know that the same struggles continue as history repeats itself. Forged in the jungles of Vietnam, on a street in Dallas, a balcony in Memphis and in LA….gunned down, dreams dashed we rise again, all too often through the haze of violence and ignorance and hatred. Instead of learning from our mistakes, over and over again we march blindly back into our past.So here we are...full circle once again. We must become engaged. We have to push back against the culture of guns that is striking down the hopes and dreams of too many of our fellow Americans while so many more live in fear of those who are armed and dangerous. We must quash the rise of those, armed, who wish to overthrow our democratically elected government. We must heal those who are overcome and driven by the sickness of their minds. Oklahoma City. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Aurora. Newtown. We can no longer turn a blind eye or remain passive. It's going to take all of us to halt the plague that is engulfing our country.
While addressing the crowd at the NRA convention center, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said "Freedom has never needed our defense more than now...So I ask you this afternoon -- do you trust this government really to protect you and your family? We’re on our own. That’s a certainty." What we are seeing is a fraying of our society... a civilization crumbling. Whereas we came together with a shared dream of a country founded on laws, and assigned to our government the duty to protect both individuals and society as a whole, Mr. LaPierre and others preach paranoia and lawlessness. When people think they have the right to supplant our Constitutionally-appointed protectors and arbitors of our laws with a gun on their hips and the right to shoot to kill (no questions asked) and to intimidate, then how long will it be before we sink into anarchy?
The Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest, recently wrote: "I've found over the years that most people have powerful spiritual experiences outdoors, experiences which move them deeply and which connect them with the divine as powerfully as anything else. These stories -- of God entering their lives through plants and animals and landscapes and storms and flowers and rocks -- are spiritual touchstones, cornerstones in the foundation of their faith. These are often the most real experiences of God with which they are blessed."
Our parks fulfill the longing in our children for adventure and exploration. By cultivating the natural curiosity and sense of wonderment in our children, we prepare them for the future. It is from a childhood well spent...days and nights filled with dreams, both real and imagined; of curiosities and longings (for what, we do not always know); of adventures, awaiting, around the next bend. It is from these children that our future leaders, our inventors and innovators, our writers and philosophers will emerge. Our parks are an integral part of the fabric of our Nation.
"It was here that the romance of my life began." -Theodore Roosevelt
According to the National Park Services, Theodore Roosevelt's experiences in the North Dakota badlands shaped his adult life, helping him become the Rough Rider, the President, and the world's leading land conservationist.