Loyalty – The Lost Treasure
by Andrew Castanuela on July 25, 2010 at 6:58 PM
We can all recall one of our favorite movies where the actor or actress goes against all odds and stands their ground for a simple principle. My favorite movie is “We Were Soldiers” with Mel Gibson who is Lt Colonel in Vietnam and he is in a fire fight with the enemy. His radio operator is on the radio with headquarters miles away from the front line and they are asking for him to return back to base. He responds, “I will not leave my men”! What commitment, decisiveness, and character he demonstrated. A principle that is rare these days. Has this principle been lost over time, and if so, when did we lose it and where is it?
There was a time in our not too distant past when there was a nation that had one of the most resilient citizens in the world. This nation would stand side by side with its fellow citizens faintly noticing the color of their skin or the money in their wallet, and they would take arms against an enemy foreign or domestic that threatened their way of life. They stood side by side based upon a principle dear not only to their hearts but their survival. The belief in this principle united a group of people in faith and commitment with a solemn resolve of nationalism and victory. This nation is better known to the entire world as the United States of America.
We represented freedom in every facet of our lives. We believed in goodness and fairness to all citizens in the United States and that every man, woman, and child in our world should have the opportunity to attain and practice this national ideology. But what was it that united such a vast diversity of people? What could bring different ethnicities, races, and social economic classes to serve one cause? My assumption is a word that once again is rarely used or observed in out nation’s moral character and that word or belief is Loyalty.
Loyalty is a tradition that is seldom practiced in today’s American society unless for selfish reasons. It is presumed that if you are American you are automatically loyal to one another. Although that may have been demonstrated in the earlier years of our nation, a lot has changed. We have expanded in population and diversity. Our economy has dominated the world for the past century and our military is the most powerful in the world. And yet with expansion comes corruption to where our government officials are not as honorable as they once were. Politicians have stopped representing the American people and focused on serving their own interest. Politics has become a career that is being educated in our universities versus a civil responsibility to be conducted by ordinary citizens. Special interest groups have mastered the ability impact all levels of legislation ignoring the needs of the millions of voters and American citizens. Political parties have insisted that people choose one party over another, and regrettably race and social class status have become a caste metric system to determine one’s political affiliation. Has it always been this way? Have we always been divided on our loyalty to one segment of society versus another? Unfortunately the answer is yes.
As a young nation we had a division of political beliefs. We had those who believed in a strong federal government versus those who believed in an anti-federal government. We had some colonies who believed we should succeed from England, and we had some colonies who wanted Independence. As our nation continued to develop, our individual beliefs continued to develop right along with our nation assembling separate concepts and interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. We were a nation with settlers and Native Americans, Yankees and Confederates, immigrants and illegal immigrants, black and white, and the diversity carries on.
A very noteworthy and historical factor was that regardless of our disagreements, divisions, and diversity we would come together as a nation during a time of desperation and necessity. We did not concern ourselves with the color of someone’s skin or what political affiliation they were associated with because we were unsurprisingly loyal to a concept of being American. A principle that I was drilled on during my young enlisted career in the Air Force and have since continued to treasure as my life has progressed.
As a non-commissioned officer it was my duty to be loyal to my troops as much as to the Constitution of the United States. Loyalty was a characteristic that was expected by every military person because we knew in the end it was all we had when we were in harms way. It saddens me that we do not practice this attribute today not because we do not have the capability but because we have lost faith in our political leaders, our government, and ourselves.
Our country is being led by what many would consider an illegitimate president who limits legal access to his citizenship. We have leaders in our bi-cameral legislation that appear to be driven by their own agenda versus the needs of the American people. We have federal and state bureaucracies that infringe, control, and dictate every aspect our lives. We are engaged in a war that appears to have no exit strategy while at the same time we dissolve old alliances (loyalty) that have stood for centuries. Our financial institutions run away unchecked with limitless power over our economic instability and current proposed legislation does nothing better than re-create a fourth branch of government. The United States government continues to transcend from a body that governs to an agency that economically and unconstitutionally competes against the same people it collects revenue. Our country is peaking with unemployment and yet we focus on providing universal healthcare. The education system is focused more on teaching students to pass a test versus expanding the minds and ideas that are needed to lead our country in the 21st Century. Instead of building bridges of cooperation the federal government is focused on creating divisions and chaos with a primary motive of preventing any political unity in our nation that can decentralize their power.
One of the most rewarding advantages in campaigning across our great state is that I have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life economically and racially. I engage with Republicans and Democrats and the one uniform conviction they share is that they are discontent and incensed with our politicians and systems of government. I have heard from numerous Democrats who have felt betrayed by the President of the United States who believe he has lied to them. I have engaged in conversations with many Conservatives who have felt neglected by the Republican Party in sustaining the conservative message. The stark reality is that as much anger and unsatisfaction they have towards our political leaders and system of government, it was created by us much like the legendary chronicle of Dr. Frankenstein creating Frankenstein.
We stood by and elected politician after politician with unconditional faith and loyalty to represent our values only to be mislead on their loyalty to special interest. I hope not to portray that all our political leaders and government leaders are corrupt but we honestly know the ones who really are. It has been said many times that actions speak louder than words and they continue to ignore the will and voice of the people only to bolster their status, fatten their war chest, or protect their way of life. Loyalty cannot be measured simply by uttering your loyalty but supporting your words with your actions not only on your beliefs but in your authority to those who trust you.
November elections are just around the corner and every registered voter in this great country will once again have the opportunity to conduct a job evaluation on our political leaders. Job evaluations are commonly conducted on most Americans on an annual basis and our elected officials are not exempt. We can choose to extend our political leaders career or instruct them to leave thanks to the beauty of our Republic form of government. The loyalty of every registered voter who exercises their right to govern will be validated and broadcasted to the entire world who wishes they had the same authority we have. Every voter will pay tribute to who they consider to be loyal in protecting their families and way of life.
I therefore declare that as civil citizens that we must be first and foremost loyal to our family. We must be loyal to our spiritual faith and pray that who we elect will guide our great nation to the principles of our Independence. We need to demonstrate loyalty to the U.S. Constitution which has always been loyal to us regardless of who was in office.
If we are asking others to take responsibility for their actions we must first start taking responsibility for our own. This starts with the simplest of acts but yet an act that rules a nation; voting!