Can we still ‘grow’ decent Americans?

By Phil Erwin

I was wrist-deep in soggy soil at dusk, planting some late-season vegetables in my back yard, when I heard those dread sounds: The momentum-halting CRUNNNCHHH!!! of automotive metal on metal, followed by the hail of safety glass on pavement.

I peeked over the wall and saw neighbors gathering, though my view of the accident was blocked by shrubbery. Since there were already enough hands to render assistance, I returned to my muddy task.

For a couple of minutes. Until it dawned on me that the blaring car alarm sounded mighty familiar. Like something I might have heard before. From my own car.

Set down the tools. Rinsed off the hands. Walked the long way ‘round the outside of the house, ‘cause the shoes were muddy too.   And discovered (of course!) that it was my venerable Pathfinder bleating out that insistent lament. It had been rudely ploughed into whilst serenely parked in front of my house, and launched into the car parked ahead of it. Useful life terminated up on the sidewalk, an inglorious end to a fine piece of machinery.

Most of us who own vehicles discover, sooner or later, what a hassle it can be when they sustain collision damage.

Even when you’re completely blameless, car collisions can mean serious hassle.

Now, this one happened right in the middle of the neighborhood where I’ve lived the last few years, much of it spent inside caring for elderly parents. And this is the Electronics Age, when we all have so many umbilicals tethering us to the Information Ether, we don’t spend much time getting to know our neighbors. And I hadn’t.

But before the tow trucks had even hauled my crunched-up carriage away, I had already received the offer of a car to borrow, from a neighbor I barely knew.   Next morning, I was out sweeping up glass that the tow truck guys had missed when a new neighbor from across the street – with whom I had never spoken – walked up and handed me the key to her Volvo. “We’re not really using it,” she said.

Just stop for a moment, take a sip of whatever it is you’re sipping, and really think about that.

A woman whom I’d never met handed me the key to a many-thousand-dollar asset, having no clue what kind of driver I am, and told me to keep the car as long as I needed it. “Because I know what a hassle it is when you don’t have a car,” said she.

Just think about that.

I had occasion to introduce myself to a new neighbor because she had handed me her car keys!

And that, people, is the America that I grew up in.

The one where everybody looked out for everybody else. The one where, if you had a problem, you knew there was always someone around who would help you. No question or hesitation. No charge. No quid pro quo. No contracts, no Damn Lawyers. Just “What can I do to help?”

Doesn’t sound much like Ferguson, Missouri, does it?     Not like Los Angeles, either, though I was raised on LA’s doorstep. Certainly not like New York; or Seattle, or San Francisco, or any of the big cities that dominate the American political conversation.

Anybody know where that old-time America went to?

Well… It’s actually still around. (Just look at Charleston, in South Carolina, where an entire city came together to peacefully mourn the loss of nine good citizens, gunned down for no reason other than a psychotic hatred for dark skin color.)

But that America has gone underground, driven to the shadows by the Era of Big Government; by Racial Grievance Politics; by Political “Correctness” run amok.

In other words: By Progressives.

Progressives say they want to make America fair, with equal opportunities for all. But their underlying strategy is to use Government to “correct” the “injustices” in America, to re-make America according to their rules. And they want Government to make sure you live by their “better” rules.

And if you don’t like their rules… Tough.   What they say – through Government – goes.

America has never been perfect; but it has, ever since its inception, been the very best nation that the Human Universe has ever seen – based entirely on the notion that it is the people who matter, who are important, and who are in chargenot the Government.

If your country’s most fundamental philosophical underpinning is that individual people are the coin of the realm, how can people not learn to take their neighbors seriously? How can they not recognize the inherent, unspoken mandate of a Helping Hand?

But when Government sets the values, makes the rules and punishes “unbelievers,” whose value system wins out – The People’s, or the ruling political class?

“Progressive,” indeed. Sounds a whole lot like every failed nation the world has ever known.

And that is the future the Progressives are drawing us all into: A failed experiment in Freedom.

Is there time to halt our demise? Is it too late to stop our Death Spiral? Is there still time to pull us back from the brink of national oblivion, and re-assert those values that held us away from the garbage heap of Human civilizations?

I don’t know about time enough; but I do know it won’t be time that saves us.

It will be neighbors like mine.

Becky, I don’t know your religion, your politics, your life’s history or your philosophy; but I do know this about you: You are a beautiful American.

Let’s hope we haven’t forgotten how to grow people like you.

helping hands


Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He sometimes wishes he could support Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies, and is none too fond of Statistics. If his writing depresses you, he recommends you visit Chip Bok’s site for a more lighthearted perspective.

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