February, albeit a shorter month, is filled with opportunities for reflection. Groundhog Day on February 2 helps us to see how much longer we will need to endure the discomforts of winter, Valentines Day on February 14 reminds us to acknowledge our significant other, and Presidents’ Weekend in the middle of February allows us to…. Wait, what does Presidents’ Weekend allow us to do besides take advantage of sales at the mall and a day or two off from work?

I believe, it, too, allows for reflection which is critical in the changing climate of the American democracy.  Presidents’ Weekend was established to honor the legacies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose birthdays are in February. The roles and contributions they made in the establishment of American democracy is undisputed. Abraham Lincoln famously stated in his Gettysburg Address in 1863, “…Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”  Is that what we are experiencing now 150 years later?

This post is not intended to be the sounding board of political views or opinions. Rather it is written to have us reflect on the times we are living in and how we can better manage the challenges and stresses posed in the face of them.

When the United States of America was established, it was with the intention of escaping oppression and seeking freedoms. Democracy was established to serve the populace, providing a political structure to ensure domestic tranquility yet allow for the rights of the individual. The 21st century has brought with it the dawn of a new era, one that is rife with threats both domestic and international in nature. Now it seems there is a struggle between the view of allowing for the rights to freedoms, as strenuously fought for, and the responsibility of a nation to protect its citizens. How much freedom are we willing to retain if it means the chance of a loved one perishing in a homeland attack or global conflict? Conversely, the thought of Big Brother watching our every move also creates conflicts in our ability to live our lives in a more private way. Rather than serving the populace, as originally intended, today’s democracy continues to be threatened. The reality is that the feelings of comfort and safety we once had, and our forefathers had intended to establish in creating a new world of independence, welcoming so many from so many places have been morphed into the Patriot’s Act, watch lists, surveillance cameras and the like.

American citizens, rather than basking in the freedoms so cherished by our founding fathers, are left with a sense of powerlessness and diminished trust. It causes one to wonder, would Washington and Lincoln feel their sacrifices were being honored today? Is it even possible to compare a government established nearly 250 years ago with one today?