Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 9:22 PM on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carter pointed way out of swamp




To look at the state of this country's economic woes on top of, in our unstable world, our teetering on another energy crisis, with oil reaching more than $100 a barrel, should, at least for my generation, dawn the realization of how just right old President Jimmy Carter was, some 30 years ago, if only we had heeded.

Amidst today's malaise it'd do us well to recall Carter's badly mischaracterized "malaise speech," delivered in the summer of 1979. It should, instead, be remembered as a visionary road map speech. Here's a brief excerpt:

"We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than challenge us now we are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

"All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem "

Unfortunately with the election of Ronald Reagan as president, in 1980, we chose the path that has led us to that place today of fragmentation and self interest, of immobility where our little heap and our little time on the planet has become simply the end all; where notions of common purpose elicit ravings of socialism.

Indeed, we've taken the path that has led us deep into the swamps of malaise. The question of our time, upon which our future depends, is: Can we again find our common purpose? Anyway, I suggest folks go back and read Carter's so-called malaise speech of 1979. It shines; it points us out of the swamp.

Tim O'Leary

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