on Standards

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves” Ray Kroc (1902-1984), American pioneer of the fast-food industry and founder of McDonald’s

Last week the President gave his State of the Union address, and while it seemed that he finally realized that Americans did not agree with his vision of the world, he said something else that troubled me. He called on us to look to China as an example of how we should educate our children and run our economy. When our President started advocating for China, he revealed how far apart he still was from the values of the American people. American values are what make us good, and that goodness is what makes us great. It is only when we stray from our core values, our higher standards, is when we get ourselves into trouble.

China should never be a standard to strive to. They are a vibrant economy for several reasons, but none of them are because they are good. It is easy to export cheap goods when your people live in squalor and work 18 hours a day for very little. It is easy to have a vibrant economy when everyone, even small children, work in factories no better than sweatshops. It is very easy to accomplish an agenda when the government is allowed to violently put down any form of protest and jail those that verbally criticize it. It is easy to make the government the god of the people when there is no freedom of religion or expression to give a contrary standard. It is very easy to control the national conversation when all major industries and properties are owned and run by the state, including the press and the internet. It is very easy to control entitlement growth with a strict one-child only policy that has been in place for decades, with forced compliance when necessary. The only freedom they offer their people is the freedom to do what the government wants.

Although China’s own constitution says that their people have the right to freedom of speech, press and religion, it is a paper tiger; the Chinese government completely ignores it.  Unlike China, America values its people, our freedoms and its U.S. Constitution; our strength lies always in these. Perhaps our President’s admiration of the Chinese reveals his true feelings regarding his regard for America; what kind of person admires a country that enslaves its own people? Is he really saying that their economic success should overshadow their human rights failures?

And that is the problem; America is slowly becoming so enslaved by the debt that we owe China to the point of where we walk in fear of offending a dictator. They are becoming our masters and that is manifested by both the literal and figurative bowing our President gives to the leaders of that country. We ended slavery here in America over a century ago; yet are we now content to be enslaved to a country whose values are in direct opposition to our own? As Benjamin Franklin once said, “a rotten apple spoils his companion”. Well, we must decide now if this rotten standard is the one we wish to strive to. Are we compromising our own values by turning a blind eye so we can still continue to use the Chinese credit card?

It is time for us to grow up, become adults, and stop acting like spoiled children willing to do anything to get what we want. This bondage of debt not only enslaves our people, it continues the enslavement of the Chinese people as well. We will put our way of life at risk and never be able claim the moral high ground if we continue to be beholden to those that do not understand us, do not like us, and place no value on human life or human rights. This holds true not only for China, but for other countries on which we depend for resources as well (like Middle East oil). America used to set the standard of greatness, that shining city on a hill where others of all races, nations, and faiths fled to for hope and freedom. My dear friends, we can be that way again, but only if we stop using the lowest common denominator as our standard. If we don’t, we will not only lose that lovely sheen for others, but we will lose our very selves.

Mr. President, if you refuse to roll up your sleeves, accept America’s standard of greatness, and do some much needed polishing, the American people will do it for you. After all, we have already shown ourselves to be pretty good at shellacking.

“A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ideological leader of the independence movement in India

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