Special to WorldTribune.com
By Sheda Vasseghi
Something is rotten in the State of Denmark — “The Tragedy of Hamlet” by Shakespeare (Act 1, Scene 4)
“What Federal holiday can we do without?”
It was the response to this question on the radio a few days post-2012 presidential election that provides a possible glimpse as to why an administration that failed on every level imaginable – economics, job growth, spending, housing market, following the Constitution, honoring public opinion on matters such as Obamacare, lapse in national security as witnessed at Benghazi, and a foreign affairs in turmoil – would be kept in power for four more years.
It’s not demographics. It’s not a candidate’s marketability or likeability. It’s not the presidential or vice presidential debate strategies. It’s not the Hollywood crowd or mass media’s blatant bias and manipulation of the general public. It’s not the political parties. It’s not lobbyists or interest groups. It’s not the undecided. It’s not voter turnout. It’s not lack of sufficient information. It’s not government-mandated birth control pills either!
It is the “element,” or lack thereof, that prompted the most frequent response to the question posed above.
What is that “element”? Well, half of those who were asked what Federal holiday Americans could do without said the third Monday of February in honor of a Founding Father and first American president post-independence, George Washington. Hence, it is the “element” that underlies such a response by 50 percent of those surveyed that deserves a second look as it parallels how 50 percent of voters this month sent President Obama back to the White House in an election that should have been a no-brainer, but ended as a shocker!
Half those surveyed believe Americans no longer need to celebrate not only George Washington as a historical figure in relation to the nation, but as a symbol for all the sacrifices early Americans made despite the odds in what eventually made this country different, unique and successful by our time.
Half those surveyed are either unaware of America’s history, foundation, or Constitution; or not in touch with the spirit of the nation which is based on individual liberty and property rights with minimal government interference.
What is the source of the disconnect that marginalizes George Washington and the birth of this nation? Is it lack of proper assimilation? Is it lack of proper education by schools and immigration authorities especially regarding history and, specifically, America’s Constitution which is above all political parties, social demographics, and personal beliefs?
There are basic truths (cosmic rules) that are universal and timeless. History, if taught properly, is where these truths may be found. History not only shows the origin and spread of ideas and events, but records the outcomes as well. According to Tunisian-born Andalusian scholar and a key figure in historiography Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), “when the group feeling is lost and replaced by another group feeling, a great disintegration sets in.”
Of course, history is filled with examples leading to Ibn Khaldun’s conclusion. In late antiquity one may reflect on the fall of the Western Roman Empire which faced difficulties with assimilation and disconnect with the notion of being Roman and loyal to the state. In modern era, we may see that a secular, modernizing Iran fell to the Islamists in 1979 to the detriment of its people and their relation with the rest of the world mostly because a generation or two had lost touch with the essence of being Iranian. Somewhere along the way they no longer knew of or related to Iran’s foundation based on its rich native and ancient pre-Islamic identity and ideals.
Ibn Khaldun writes that under an unrestrained governing body, a people’s self-reliance eventually deteriorates. They come to depend on the government for their basic needs and protection. They cannot do anything for themselves and become powerless leading to a diminished stamina. Eventually a people’s fortitude is broken and they no longer have the will or ability to resist domination. This state of affairs leads to the beginning of the decay of a civilization.
Americans, who value the principles on which this nation rests, must focus on the education system that has fallen behind not only in math and science, but social studies crucial in guiding future voters not to be so easily dismissive of the founders of the nation in which they live, or as gullible to believe that being emotionally and financially dependent on government is the key to America’s historical trademark as “the land of opportunity.” After all, Ibn Khaldun also states that people are a byproduct of their environment.
Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation, and is a regular contributor to Freepressers.com and WorldTribune.com on Iran’s Affairs. Join the Official Site of Sheda Vasseghi on Facebook.