Toward the end of the fifteenth century, the Europeans came upon what they saw as a new land, and for many of them, what would become a new home. As they explored North America, they encountered tremendous natural bounty and hundreds of civilizations. They sailed to this new land by the hundreds, and then the thousands. They came with ideas, hopes, values, attitudes, ambition, love, threads of wisdom, and technological power. They came not only for personal aspirations, but also with a full intention of establishing a better home and a better place—more freedom, more justice, and a better economy.
With these goals, they established. They subjugated. They toiled. They fought. They had children. They loved. They prayed. And many of them died for principle. With all the wisdom they had, they set into motion something beautiful and creative. They did this for themselves, for their children, for their children’s children, and for all of us here today.
Years, decades, and now centuries have passed. Each of us has a different family story—some reading this may be direct immigrants, while others may be native with ancestry stretching hundreds of generations back. For many families that settled near the middle of this country, it has now been about six generations since the long sea voyage.
Native Iroquois wisdom encourages people to guard the welfare of their people not just in the moment, but across a span of seven generations. As we shift through time as a nation—many of us moving into our seventh generation on this continent—it is a good time to reflect upon our nation and our lives. It is time for us to ask what has been achieved and where we might be headed. This honors that first generation (whether ours is recent or distant), our grandparents, our parents, and our children and grandchildren. Clearly, this nation is on the cusp of changes. These changes might turn out well, but only if we look at our lives and nation with clarity and great honesty.
More than 200 years after this nation was born, would the founders be proud of how things are turning out? Would they feel that this nation, as it stands today, was worth fighting for and dying for? Have we established a nation we are satisfied with? Proud of? Are we honored to pass it forward to the next generation? Are we living up to our potential? Are we even close to living up to our potential? Are governments and society operating as we need? As we would expect? As planned? As we wish they would?
What about the other institutions and systems that have been established over decades? Is our infrastructure working properly? Are our corporations working in favor of the nation? If not, toward what purpose do they work? Is our environment the setting we’d want, if there were a choice? Are the schools working as needed to best promote the welfare of the nation? What about our families? Our neighborhoods?
From broad to narrow scale, and from the impersonal down to our very own bodies, it is an important time to ask if this nation is producing a present and a future of high value and desirability. Or are we watching our potential fade and our dreams decay? Even if there is no single right answer, it is time to ask these questions…
This project is one person’s view regarding the state of our livelihoods within this nation, and the state of our nation. This view includes an effort to understand what has led to that state, and what can possibly be done to improve that state, if we desire. It also includes an attempt to understand how things work, including why they work, and why they don’t work. These are the views and ideas of one person from about the sixth generation.