“America only has things worth living for.” I heard that quote on a podcast some time ago; it might have been on Timcast IRL, but I can’t be certain. Normally I just have podcasts on as background noise as I do mundane things like taking a long drive, working out in the gym, and I don’t pay close attention to anything that is said. But that quote really gave me pause. It popped back into mind when the terrorist group Hamas launched a complex and highly successful ground, sea, and air attack into southern Israel in early October of 2023. Clearly, both Hamas and Israel think that each of them has something worth dying for. But in America, we only have things worth living for.
On the surface, the comment “America only has things worth living for” seems trite, or even glib. Well of course America has things worth living for. Who wouldn’t want to live in peace, prosperity, freedom, and relative security? Millions of people come to our country to find those things. Few leave here in search of them.
The problem is not that America has things that are worth living for. The problem is that America no longer has things that are worth dying for. Or at least a sizeable portion of America’s citizenry seems to feel that way. America is currently consumed with self-gratification and individual identity politics, at the expense of nearly everything else. The myths and legends and artifacts that united the country are being torn down, sometimes literally. Individual identity, even ones that are wholly invented, trump national identity and national unity. It seems that everyone these days wants to be something other than an American.
Money. Sex. Attention. Power. All of these things have been driving human behavior since the start of our country, and probably since the earliest days of civilization. But with the conditions of plenty and security that have been generated under the rise of modern America, and aided and abetted by the information age and the Internet era, few Americans are willing to make the kind of investment into, and take the risks associated with, maintaining our Republic.
Americans, and people living in America legally or illegally, are content to live for the debauch, but are loathe to put in the work to make sure it can continue. They certainly don’t want to risk their lives, their property, or their sacred honor to preserve it. The Americans of the “Greatest Generation” who pulled us through the dark days of World War II an into an age of unrivaled prosperity are long gone.
Even people who still want to be associated with America in some way are putting another identity first as part of the ongoing phenomenon of hyphenated-America. It seems that more and more Americans deeply want to be something other than American. The power base in America has shifted; whereas people tried hard to set aside their collective pasts and move forward as Americans, American citizens and people residing in America go out of their way to show they are different. In just a few short generations, America has gone from a melting pot to a toddler’s dinner; everything is on the same plate, but the different food items can’t touch.
We can see it in all manner of manifestations: defund the police, the military’s recruiting woes, the erosion of our nation’s institutions, the rampant distrust Americans have in our political leaders, and each other. We also saw it in the baffling level of support for Hamas terrorists who, by the way, killed and kidnapped many Americans during their latest atrocity directed against defenseless civilians.
Americans are willing to savagely attack each other over “misgendering,” because “words are violence,” but give people who use actual violence against us a pass. They stand aside while our country tears itself apart internally. They refuse to intervene when their fellow citizens are robbed or assaulted in front of them. They stand by in the face of genuine injustice and tolerate obvious lies. They regularly–and often enthusiastically–allow their rights to be violated in the name of “safety.”
Simply put, they have let the very essence of what it means to be a free, proud, and assertive American slip right through their fingers. And the reason is clear:
We simply have too much to live for.
Scott Faith is a veteran of a half-dozen combat deployments and has served in several different Special Operations units over the course of his Army career. Scott’s writing focuses largely on veterans’ issues, but he is also a strong proponent of Constitutional rights and has a deep interest in politics. He often allows other veterans who request anonymity to publish their work under his byline. Scott welcomes story ideas and feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.