As I begin preparing for the return trip to Northwest Ohio, I am reminded of how important “homecomings” are. No matter where we travel or what we do, for most of us coming home evokes intense emotion. The comfort, familiarity and security we find at home allow us to function more freely without fear. Our surroundings, no matter how modest, and the people we know so well provide us with the solid assurance that things will be “OK.” Warriors fight more ferociously to protect the homeland when facing invaders. Mothers resemble angry bears when their homes are in danger. Home is a special place that we hold dear.
Going home suggests that we are returning to a private place with its own social structure and culture. Home is unique. While it may share a number of attributes with other households, it remains different. When I was born near the middle of the 20th Century, the progressive undermining of our nation was well underway. It’s most corrosive elements had not yet penetrated into the often maligned “fly-over country.” The reach and grasp of an out-of-control government had not tickled the consciousness of our hardy Midwesterners. Certainly some were alarmed and warned the others, but our hard-working, somewhat idyllic lives seemed to be unaffected by those rascally politicians and their madcap schemes. Yes, there were jokes about bombastic politicians and sleazy ones, too, but most of us were not seriously concerned that our nation would stumble. Our ignorance, our apathy has proven to be costly.
While we labored for sustenance and sought prosperity, the foundations of our country were eroding. Some of the changes were welcome and past due. The abolition of Jim Crow laws and the partial shattering of the glass ceiling were significant. Our lives were changed, but adjustments were easily made. On the other hand “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Jackass” reek of a culture and society that has been debased. As someone who loves every facet of personal liberty, I’m not particularly concerned about individuals who act shallowly as long as they accept responsibility for their actions. My fear is that irresponsibility has become too pervasive in our nation. I detect echoes of the Roman bread and circuses as we meander through our daily lives. As someone who embraces liberty, I fear that too many in our nation have no respect or desire for responsible self-disciplined freedom.
The cup of liberty is precious and shouldn’t be handled so cavalierly that it is spilled. Each drop of freedom has been purchased by those who chafed under oppressive regimes. As I survey our land, I wonder if we are capable and willing to repurchase our natural heritage. Perhaps we have become too distracted by our games and frivolous pursuits to hunker down to the task of securing liberty. It’s possible that we are too irresponsible to hold on to freedom if we are fortunate enough to grasp it again. Even among those who appear to be serious about the status of our nation, we find many of them focused on the little things…the symptoms rather than the roots. Rarely do I hear the people calling for liberty. Instead, many have their pet policy that they seek to change. That is not enough for it substitutes one form of tyranny for another.
Homecomings should be grand occasions. As we settle into the glowing warmth of home, we should know that all is right, and all will be well. The uneasiness we experienced while away should be banished by the familiar comfort of home. Home, as we remember it, however, is no longer there. It has been replaced by short-term avarice and irresponsible behavior. Home is but a memory…an ideal…that has melded into the mists of time. Home is where we can be free. I want to go home.
This week’s Littlestuff Weekender will appear on Sunday.