This visit with you today is a sort of follow up message to my last two columns on Firehouse.com. In one I spoke of the problems I encountered when my faith in an individual was misplaced. In the other I spoke of the problems caused by the interaction of dumb-asses and disasters. It was during our Rally Day service at the Colts Neck Reformed Church that my thoughts on the problems outlined in both of these commentaries were made abundantly clear to me. I have worked on a method of tying the two together.
As I sat waiting for the church service to start, the words to an old standard began to roll around in my mind. I kept hearing the tune to Amazing Grace being played on my mental music box. As you might imagine, I have heard that song played at more than one fire service funeral. Then the words kept coming. I once was lost, but now am found. Over and over again these words kept repeating themselves. I got out my notepad and jotted down the words which make up the title of this commentary.
The thoughts then began to flow. I started to think about the many problems which are taking hold of our fire service world. But are we not just one subset of a greater society, I thought to myself? If we are encountering problems in the world, are not our fellow travelers on this earth also suffering? I then thought about a number of issues which I am working my way through. There are a number of similarities. Then it came to me.
As I look at the problems facing our nation I see yet another issue which is not being addressed. It seems as though there are some people who seemingly revel within the concept of being lost. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are lost and are not seeking to be found. Sadly, many in this group are our political leaders, the people charged with running our country. They refuse the counsel of those with whom they disagree philosophically. They are deaf when it comes to listening to the ideas of others.
Let me suggest that I am not singling out one particular level of government. I seem to see these lost souls at the local, county, state, and federal levels. I worry that is left to their own devices these folks will lead our nation down the road to the status of a third world nation. They seem hell-bent on making political capital out of the very tasks which must be accomplished to take care of the business of America.
It seems to me that I saw a lot of fine folks in days gone by that seemed to be motivated to do good works in the public sector. Now I am not so naive as to think that there has ever been a time in our history where politics was not a strong part of our government's operational equation. Perhaps it was my youthful enthusiasm that caused me to overlook the foibles of our forefathers. Perhaps I simply did not see the role that selfish, personal propensities played in the formation of our nation. I do not know.
However, in the living of my life I am afraid that a certain amount of practical cynicism has become a part of my personal modis operandi. I have seen good people trampled into the dust, while at the same time seeing some really selfish people rise through the ranks to positions of great responsibility. Perhaps I should have questioned how this was possible. But I did not. I just took things like this at face value. That is just how it is. That is what has actually happened to me on occasion.
As I recall it, the people leading the nation during my youth were many of the same folks who led the fight against fascism during World War II. Now it seemed to me that if these people were talented and brave enough to lead us to victory, then they should be able to create a great nation during a time of peace.
Perhaps it was my youthful propensity to raise people to the level of idols. That is a possibility. Maybe it came from being raised by an Army officer dad who taught my brother and me to obey orders and do the best job that we could. That is how it seems now. During those years it seems as though I saw good people achieving seemingly laudable goals.