Poor Uncle Sam!
From the moment he was born, he was a star! He rose from the dark ashes of a terrible war to defend and lead his people, his nation and the world toward a bright future of truth, prosperity and peace. "Equality!" was his battle cry and "Democracy" his unwavering shield.
He suffered many challenges over the course of his life and wielded his triumphant arsenal time and time again. He was no quitter and, though some challenges posed greater threat than others, he always came out on top. In the end, Adversity was his greatest teacher and he reveled in the potential glory it contained.
For more than 200 years, Uncle Sam continued his reign, lending his life for the cause of his country and his precious wife, Liberty. But, even the greatest kingdoms must come to an end and, for Sam, the fall of his began when Prosperity entered his doorway.
Prosperity was always a woman of good intentions, giving her aid and support when the country needed it most. Her sons, however, were not. Whenever she came for a visit, her seven sons, Greed, Hatred, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, Lust and Pride, came too. They were sly individuals who slowly worked themselves into the delicate fabric of society when the nation least expected it.
Now, 236 years later, Uncle Sam is dying -- choked and betrayed by the very country and people he vowed to protect. Under the dark influence of Prosperity's seven sons, WE, the people of the United States of America, have all but completely dethroned him.
Years ago, many of our ancestors could walk the calm neighborhood streets at night without a single thought of threat or fear. Now, our theaters, schools and even homes must be guarded every day from the possibility of threat, theft and violence. Today, one of the greatest squanderers of electricity, fuel and money is security. Think about it! When viewed from space in the black of night, parts of our planet look nearly as bright as the moon or sun thanks to all the lights left on for safety precautions. If all Americans were honest, instead of greedy and envious, can you imagine the difference?
In the past, perfection was a thing of rare beauty that drew a sense of awe and wonder from audiences who viewed it in the works of another being. Now, however, perfection has become an expectation. When a film, illustration or literary work shows the slightest defect, critics tear it to shreds! When a company or doctor messes up, we sue them. When an actor or celebrity makes a single mistake, the media spreads it across the globe. What if instead of focusing on defects, we let go of our pride and criticism and focused on the beauty of others -- following a more optimistic approach?
Gluttony, sloth, lust - unfortunately, these types of words have come to represent the American continent in the eyes of billions around the world. We have it so good here in our amazing First World country. Cars, television, restaurants and grocery stores on every corner, good-paying jobs that, though they don't afford us the luxury of a boat or mansion, enable us to feed our families and clothe our backs. The fact that our teenagers own their own cars is nearly incomprehensible to most countries of the world.
Yet high-rising debt, credit cards and an "I want it now!" attitude permeate the very air of our continent as we become less and less satisfied with what we have and our appetite for more money, more food and more luxury grows. Imagine how much more friendly and charitable our society would be if, as a nation, we added just a smidgen more gratitude into our diet?
In 1796, George Washington retired from office, leaving a legacy that's forever changed the course of our nation's great history. Before stepping down, however, Washington left the nation with one last word of advice. In his farewell address, he warned against permanent foreign alliances, unstable public credit (national debt), the formation of political parties and many other political temptations.
While many argue that Washington's advice applied only to a young, infant nation, I daresay they're wrong. Go to any public event and mention the words "Democrat," "Republican," "conservative," "liberal," "Obama" or "Romney" and the whole place goes up in flames. Hatred embodies the very words "two party system." In some cases, it's bad enough that, if a Democrat or Republican (see, I had to list both of them to ensure I didn't lose my head) has a great idea, the other party will completely oppose it, even if they secretly agree with it. What if, instead of treating members of the opposite party like scoundrels and vermin, everyone banded together and learned to listen to and honestly consider the viewpoints of the other side? We did it with race and religion (for the most part), why can't we do the same with political parties?
Uncle Sam is dying and he needs all the help he can get to tear down the overarching monopolies of Prosperity's seven vicious sons. He wants YOU! To join the armies of Liberty, Peace and Freedom where charity, love and hope shine like golden pillars, lighting the way to a future void of greed, hatred, pride, envy, gluttony, sloth and lust.
Of course, these monopolies cannot be torn down in one fell swoop. Time, sacrifice and persistence are needed to rectify and heal the enormous wounds. Will you join the cause?
Shane Goudy recently graduated from Northridge High School. Email him at email@example.com.