Fork in the road; now what?

At least once in our lives, we all come to that proverbial fork in the road.

We can do two things: “Stick a fork in it, we’re finished!,” or, “Grab your fork, let’s eat!”

History has shown us the same dilemma exists for every country past and present, including the United States of America.

History has also taught us to beware of the flashing red warning lights that the fork in the road is dead ahead. Get ready to turn or do nothing and go straight ahead and run completely off the road.

Folks, I believe we as a country have approached those flashing lights.

The Rand Corp., a worldwide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, has studied extensively and published a massive report detailing the cause and effect of nations in decline They went back to the Roman empire right through to the British Empire.

All indications point to America being right in the beginning stages of decline, and action is necessary to alter the future course of our history.

Here are some warning lights indicating the precipice of decline.

Have we lost our national unity? Have we lost our national will? Do we have a common project we can unite around? Has our society become fragmented? Has our national debt affected our ability for continual societal growth? Has our federal government gone into a state of bureaucratic ossification, described as a conventional pattern of behavior, fossilized and inflexible?

Are we losing faith in our institutions? Are we still fighting for equality? Does America still have an enviable international influence? Have we reached the financial point of overreach, common to countries in decline? Have we failed to design a coherent plan for our future?

The answers to most of those questions — each a flashing red warning light — is yes.

The fork in the road is here.

The good news is that decline often takes decades. The bad news is recovery often takes decades. Which way we go depends on what we choose to do or not to do.

Michael Mazaar, from Rand Corp., asks, “What would a renewed reform experiment look like?”

Let’s start by saying what not to do: Do not ignore the warning lights!

Let’s now talk about what we need to do: We must first realize and identify the sources of decline. Secondly, we must have the determination and will to correct our trajectory. If we don’t do those two things, it could be “stick a fork in it” time.

Our number-one challenge is to rein in our national debt, simply because nearly one dollar in six of our national revenue (our taxes) is going to service the interest on our debt instead of using those financial resources for good.

We must refocus and concentrate on our country’s own self interest, because we cannot help others around the world if we cannot help ourselves first.

While many still have faith in our military and small business, society is losing faith in the government, big business, religion, education, and the media. The only way to regain that faith is for substantial reform.

And that, folks, is where it gets tough.

We must have an innovative restructure of government, expanding what is working well and slashing what isn’t working.

Congress is in decay, and one of the reasons is that technology has passed them by. Just think how technology has changed our lives and the way we do business. Now, think how Congress is stuck in the last century, trying to legislate at the speed of a glacier, while we now have the world’s knowledge in our hands and available in seconds.

As sad as it sounds, catastrophes historically have helped us focus. One just has to remember 9/11 and the patriotism that overwhelmed the country, or World War II, when the nation mobilized around the war efforts.

We shouldn’t have to wait for the next catastrophe. We should act now by taking our national frustration and turning it into innovation.

The vast number of Americans are begging for positive actions toward solving our problems. That is good, meaning we are open to revitalization and reform.

What we need most right now are leaders across the spectrum, from government, business, the states, and the media to point out the potential we still have. We need a national vision inclusive enough that all Americans can rally behind it. Just think of John F. Kennedy’s race to the moon in the 1960s, or the information revolution in the 90s.

Hey, we are all Americans. We breathe the same air, eat the same foods, share the same roads, and, basically, have the same goals in life.

Just think of what we could accomplish if all the energy we put into fighting among us we instead put into fighting for us.

We can do this. We can restore the American Dream, restore the can-do attitude, and restore the faith in our society and our country.

But, first, we must recognize the flashing lights warning us of the fork in the road, and react now before the decline continues.

Grab your fork, let’s eat!

Do we have the courage and determination for a national renewal? Let me know at gregawtry@awtry.com.


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