It is not often that you will read me espousing a point of view in this space. But today is different.
I'm asking you -- no, I'm pleading with you -- to pick up a newspaper or two today. Tune to broadcast news. Google beyond the major headlines. And yes, devour any of the more than 850 Patch sites across the nation.
If you haven't seen the first episode of HBO's The Newsroom, you must. [Update: HBO has now made the show available online at itsh.bo/LLps4r.] Not just because screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and I each have degrees from Syracuse University. And not just because lead actor Jeff Daniels and I share the same surname. (We're not related.)
All the soap opera aspects of the plot aside, you need to see it for the power and importance of the following speech by Jeff Daniels who plays a news anchor being questioned by a college student who asks: "What makes America the world's greatest country?"
We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest.
We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn't belittle it; it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered.
The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
With Independence Day approaching, it is time to rethink America. Not rethink left/right politics, but America.
In the words of John McCain's campaign theme: "Country First."
With newspapers failing, network TV ratings falling, and Internet sites flailing, what are each of us going to do to become more informed every day and turn around this ship of state?
Please join the conversation and share your thoughts about America in the comments box below.