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We shook our heads when Greeks rioted in the streets last year protesting government budget actions. Now it’s our turn. Thousands gathered at the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin this week to demonstrate their opposition to a Governor-led move to address the state’s budgetary woes.

In Washington, D.C. things aren’t any better—budget deficit, $14 trillion national debt, runaway entitlements. Instead of steady, courageous leadership, we get mostly partisan infighting.

The Greatest Generation became the greatest in part because of how it—or should we say they—weathered world war, but before that, how they weathered the Great Depression of their youth. They stepped up, stood tall, sacrificed, and walked through their troubles with a strength we still benefit from today.

Since 2008, our economic problems have been called the Great Recession. Whatever name we give it, it’s real, extensive, and not going away soon or without sacrifice. We’ve made our bed and now we have to sleep in it.

But the jury’s out on whether our generation will rise to the occasion. And that’s the point: do we have the necessary resolve to deal with our self-generated budget woes?

We’ve lived way beyond our means, mortgaging our children’s future and our culture, and maybe our country. Yet so far, we’ve heard more talk than seen action. Everyone wants someone else’s ox to be gored. There’s yet no spirit of self-sacrifice or “We’re all in this together.” Not to pick unfairly upon the good government workers of Wisconsin, but it is difficult to take some of their ire seriously when what they’ve been offered is still substantially better than the average and must be paid for by the rest of the citizens of that beautiful state.

I don’t like to think that what we’ve seen in Greece, Great Britain, and France in response to budget cuts—volatile and at times violent demonstrations—will happen here. But I am afraid that they will because our culture isn’t as strong as it appears. We’re not our grandparents. Yet I hope that I’m wrong.

We need statesmen and women strong enough to lead the way even as they endure the inevitable bile. It remains to be seen if they emerge and it remains to be seen whether we will both produce and support them.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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