Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Downfall of a Country by Fernando J. Milanes. M.D.
It was not easy. With many diverse factors, interests and ideology at play, our forefathers were able to unanimously agree on a beautiful and simple manuscript, the Declaration of Independence. The words that began the second paragraph of this document became the basis upon which the philosophy of a new country would be built.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
After defeating the English empire under the brilliant direction of George Washington, and the signing of the Constitution, an experiment consisting of a different form of Democracy was started. The success of the United States of America was dependent on the strength of four ideological pillars.
Our Constitution; when the first ten of the twelve proposed amendments of this document, known as the Bill of Rights, were drafted by James Madison its main purpose was to avoid a takeover of individual rights by a central power. This idea of limiting central authority and concentrating it on the citizen was crucial to the success of the system. Power to the States, and separation of federal governance by three equal branches, legislative, judicial and executive would provide checks and balances to the structure. Human folly, including personal ambition was supposed, paraphrasing Madison, to neutralize each other. The success of the US and its democratic approach was highly dependent, explained Alec De Tocqueville, on the wisdom and education of its citizens.
The community; our population was and is based on immigrants. The attraction to come to the U.S. was rooted on the search for freedom and opportunity. Most of the newcomers shared the Judeo-Christian values of the original pilgrims. Freedom to worship, to labor, and to raise a family was central to these original inhabitants. With the initial success of the country, the idea of opportunity for liberty and the pursuit of happiness attracted many that were unable to achieve those in their nation of origin. Our nation’s accomplishments increased with these new arrivals. In addition to a strong family unit, religious support, and schooling, the people were educated by what was supposed to be a fourth power, the press.
Education; the earlier and most important education, came from the family unit, religious advisors and schools. These institutions were in agreement of the importance of love for one another, for our land, work, sacrifice, and helping those in need. As adults the free press gave us facts, many diverse opinions, and demonstrated impartiality in order to help us form an independent opinion, not to manipulate our thoughts. People that achieved, worked hard, and had some luck and entrepreneurship abilities, were able to accumulate riches in our capitalistic economic approach.
Free markets; the economy grew based on free market principles with limited regulations, competition, and incentives for individuals to come up with new and original ideas. There was no limit for achievement, and those who made it were praised and admired and became a source of inspiration as written in the popular Horatio Alger stories of rags to riches.
As described in the Chinese torture of one thousand cuts, our way of life was attacked in a thousand ways, causing inexorable erosion to the four pillars previously described. Our Constitution became old, before our times, needing revision. The separation of powers became a farce, with the legislative branch weak, the judicial dependent and subservient to the executive that appointed them, and a presidency more and more resembling the strong voice that our forefathers feared. Persons with ambition united, instead of cancelling each other as Madison had hoped. Individual liberty has increasingly been defined by the bias of the leaders, thus curtailing the ability to voice an independent opinion.
The family nucleus has been eroded to the extent that marriage, in its symbolic definition, has been eliminated; couples remain together in dwindling numbers, religion beliefs, especially Judeo-Christian, are not respected, and God is eliminated from our teachings.
The press has become, for the most part, a propaganda apparatus in the service of the establishment. The ones that dare to oppose the governing machinery are surreptitiously being attacked by branches of the same government that we elected to represent us.
Our schools and institutions of higher learning are led by teachers that spouse a particular point of view, thus intellectually forming a new youth, with preconceived notions of reality.
Our citizens are mostly uninterested in the electoral process, more and more ignorant, and attracted less by the opportunity to pursuit happiness than the guarantee of receiving it.
A symbiotic relationship between capitalists and politicians has changed our free market system into one where regulations kill initiative, and favors the crony allies of the rulers.
What was decades ago the majority of the population that revered our nation, constitution and way of life, are now defined as extreme, selfish, uneducated and racist. As in Europe, both political parties are of a liberal philosophy, the less extreme called conservatives. Whether this erosion of our way of life has been caused by many diverse circumstances, and/or an inevitable cycle of the rise and falls of civilizations, or, as some belief, under the direction of a single evil force, is debatable.
What are not are the facts, and these are clear, and demonstrate our continuing decline and eventual downfall.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Bear Witness Central.