by Rob Werner
The Greatest Generation is dying out. Within fifteen years, the founding values subscribed to by most seniors will also have passed. Some seniors will adhere to them, but most people will have abandoned the values subscribed to by every generation since the founding of our country. These values, passed on since Benjamin Franklin from generation to generation, distinguished our citizenry from others and built America into a prosperous democratic republic.
The following founding values and beliefs have been in decline and deserve acknowledgement prior to their demise:
The work ethic: We wanted to work, even as children. We did not mind long hours of hard toil that reaped rewards for ourselves and our families. We hated idle and wasted time. We strove to build and produce things. When computer games were invented, we were the ones who would feel guilty playing such games, as we were not using our productive energy to make a better world.
Self-reliance: We wanted, expected and planned to take care of ourselves and others to take care of themselves. We did not believe in a welfare system for ourselves or others. We did not subscribe to the belief that welfare was a class of people, an institution or a right. We supported the type of charities that helped others to help themselves.
Loyalty and responsibility to family, community and nation: We maintained a sense of personal responsibility and duty to take care of our family, do what was needed to better our community and, when needed, fight for our nation. It was our responsibility, not the government’s, to make sure that our family had a home and that its members were supported. We took care of our elders. All family members participated in providing for the family.
Men are men, and women are women: It has never been a question of equality but always a recognition of differences and separate qualities, which are needed in our families and for the success of future generations. We all have important roles, but our abilities, motivations and priorities are not always the same.
Individuality is respected: We recognize that everyone has the right to use their best efforts to succeed and that people’s level of success may differ. We have no right to interfere with that success or take its product. We expect others to respect us in the same way.
The government is not our master: We recognize government is necessary, but primarily as a last resort. Those in government working for us deserve respect; those working in government for their own benefit deserve nothing. The government’s purpose is protection and to smooth our course, not to provide obstacles.
Religion and morality are fundamental values: These values govern our personal lives and conduct, guide us in obeying the commandments and other laws without government dictates or interference. We — not others, not society — are responsible for our own conduct. We understand locking our doors is not the solution to theft.
Ben Franklin often acknowledged and advocated these views. But each generation needs to review for themselves what will guide them through life. President Reagan said that we are always one generation away from the end of liberty. Franklin founded the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. They still recognize Franklin with statuary but have long since abandoned his teachings. The current seniors may be the last generation to enjoy liberty as envisioned by our founding fathers.