What values define our nation and culture? What values are presented by those in positions of influence and power in our society? I’ll ask this in another way. When was the last time you heard a media personality speak of courage in the face of adversity?
In my own admittedly limited experience, courage, and a desire to embrace the challenges that we’re faced with, appears to be lacking within modern society. Courage, as a virtue, is certainly not considered a priority in our education system, although this isn’t to say that values and ideals aren’t taught to us. We’re taught by “the system” that courage as a virtue pales in comparison to the many values of egalitarian ideals. Have these new ideals been effective in building a stronger and more prosperous west? The declining state of western economies argues that they have not.
The values of a society underpin everything, from someone’s individual actions on a given day, to the inter-workings of our political system. Whether this is true or not, politicians often seem to avoid hard decisions, leaving big problems to linger until they’re out of office. I’d suggest that many of the problems we face in government, society, and culture are due to a lack of courage. There are many hard economic decisions that have yet to be made by our government, especially surrounding the reduction of the deficit (ultimately the debt as well), and building a plan to deal with unfunded liabilities. Those who lead us directly influence our culture and impart the values that we ourselves then tend to hold. With this in mind, it seems to me that our culture is failing to emphasize the necessary value of courage, and the desire to face and overcome adversity.
On Remembrance Day, we honour the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers who fought and died to defend freedom. They were willing to leave their homes, even lie about their ages, in order to fight for their country and for the ideas and values that defined it. Ultimately, their sacrifice meant we wouldn’t be saddled with the crushing weight of a totalitarian society. They allowed their children the opportunity to forge their own futures, and the future of the country in which they live.
Somewhere from then to now, a shift in the value structure of our culture occurred. It’s my opinion that the courage so well embodied by our Canadian soldiers, and their willingness to take on the most difficult of challenges, is worth re-establishing as a basis for our culture once again. After all, if they could put their lives on the line to secure the future of our country, the least we could do is confront the problems that we ourselves created, be it economic, social, or cultural. In so doing, we honour their sacrifice. We must do our part to ensure the prosperity and freedom they fought to protect.