Our country was not founded through the means of peaceful times and negotiations. Disease, battles, wars and fundamental disagreements are the foundation from which this nation started. Yet from it, we grew into a civil nation.
As those founding years turned into more than two centuries, our nation is once again experiencing a tension that will only be eased by courageous men and women stepping forward who are committed to truth, values, and principles that honor God and the bloodshed on behalf of this country.
But since the 1960s and ’70s our nation has grown soft. We have packaged education and national concerns in bubble wrap, and it is beginning to burst.
Prior to 1960s, it was typical that the American high school student would have three separate courses in civics and government. According to the National Education Association, only 25 percent of U.S. students reach the “proficient” standard on the NAEP Civics Assessment today. Test yourself. How many of you or your children know your representative, senator, or how many serve in Congress?
One could also argue that when the draft was removed in 1973, our nation’s conflicts, that once required Americans to pay attention, were suddenly placed on the shoulders of the few who volunteered. As our men and women returned from Vietnam without tickertape parades, politicians were shifting the burden of our national concerns from everyday Americans to the fewer than 1% who serve this country on active duty.
And the ignorance and burden are beginning to have some disastrous effects.
Today, only nine states and the District of Columbia require one year of U.S. government or civics in high school. Many of today’s youth have taken to the streets and we have watched cities burn instead of civil discussion.
When one knows the history and experiences the cost and price required to preserve this country, despite its flaws and shortcomings, you do not burn it down. You commit to discussion and resolving differences – even when those discussions are not pretty – with the intent of supporting a decision in the best interest of the whole.
Our nation’s conflicts, which are being carried on the backs of fewer than 2 million Americans, are crushing our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019. A recent report found that the rate of suicide for veterans aged 18-34 years old has more than doubled from approximately 22 suicide deaths per 100,000 in 2006 to 45 per 100,000 in 2016 (VA, 2018; VA 2019).
The responsibility to defend our Constitution, to serve this country – whether in uniform or through other constructive opportunities – needs to be required of all our youth. Because then we will all pay attention.
It is time to remove the bubble wrap. It is time to teach truth and it is time that we stop dividing because of our differences and become one team, one fight – for this country.
It will take courage. But as Dennis Prager says, “the most uncommon of all good human traits is courage. But without courage, goodness is not possible.”
— By Mike Schindler
Edmonds resident Mike Schindler is the founder and chief executive officer of Operation Military Family Cares –– a 501(c)(3) veteran service organization and technology provider that combats veteran homelessness, while working to strengthen relationships and equip communities and families for success.