Saturday, Dec 20, 2014
Columns

Myers: Are we there yet?

BY COL. DONALD J. MYERS
A Mind of My Own

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Anyone who has ever had children can relate to the heading of this article. It seems that as soon as the car leaves the driveway, at least one of the children will utter, "Are we there yet?" It seems they have no reference for time and distance and just want the trip to wherever to be over as quickly as possible. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with their enjoyment or recreation. That is the joy of being so self-centered and not responsible for just about anything that occurs.

That type of behavior can be accepted for children who have yet to mature, but what about for those who are in their late teens or even older? It seems that there is a large percentage of our citizens who have not really matured, but have the desires of people who have worked and earned many of the good things in life such as a nice home, a dependable car, sufficient money to vacation each year, and funds to enjoy many of the distractions available in this country.

Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and Bill O'Reilly routinely have sent people into the street to question local citizens about politics and current events. Initially it looked like some type of setup because no one possibly could be that uninformed. Not being able to identify key individuals in the government from photographs such as the vice president, secretary of state or other noted representatives was one such test. Not knowing who we fought against to win our freedom or who did we fought in World War II was another test question. One of the hosts even sent his man to a college campus and students did not fare any better.

According to polls, these are the people who came out in droves to vote in the last two presidential elections. Where do they think we are headed if they know so little about this country? A recent poll showed most college students want to work for a non-profit organization once they graduate. I suspect they have been led to believe for-profit companies are evil and do not care about anything except making money.

All of this sounds quite negative and looks bad for our future, but I remain optimistic because of my background and study of history. I met countless individuals in the military, business, and education fields who were looking for guidance and direction. At Marine Boot camp at Parris Island, S. C., I spoke with an untold number of recruits who enlisted because they were looking for something they did not find in the past. They could not tell me exactly what it was, but they hoped that they could find it in the Marines. I believe they were looking for direction and something that they could believe in and belong to. The military generally provides that - especially the Marines.

In business, I found much the same. Employees what to belong to an organization they can brag about to their friends. Who wants to work for the worst company in its field? When I taught leadership at a university, the students were reluctant to exercise leadership until they were shown how. While working with juvenile delinquents, it was amazing how they responded to positive leadership. We showed them positive male role models they never had experienced. The effect was phenomenal.

The fundamentals for exceptionalism exist in this country, but in too many cases they are dormant. Effective leadership brings these to the forefront and that is why I remain optimistic for this country.

Donald Myers is a retired Marine colonel and regular contributor to Hernando Today. He can be reached at dmyersusmc@tampabay.rr.com.

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