After watching the exciting dynamics of the youth summit in Washington D.C. on July 23rd, I was drawn again to the Jonathan Livingston Seagull story. This amazing seagull was flying toward the horizon with new ideas and new hope to find more than the other seagulls who were picking up scraps behind cruise ships. Like Jonathon who believed there was more beauty and excitement in the realm in which he was flying, these young people love their Republic and want to seek the horizon of opportunity. Like Jonathon they believe in themselves and understand that in their beloved country they are free to become everything they were born to be.
This seagull defied the orders of the Supreme Council to be like all the other seagulls on the beach. Be happy with your lot in life to pick up the scraps. Stay along the shore where you won’t encounter the storms beyond the shoreline. Just look at the setting sun on the horizon; it’s not yours to follow, they admonished.
But Jonathan wasn’t an ordinary seagull. He wasn’t like the other seagulls who conformed to the restrictions and limitations of mediocrity that prohibited his freedom. He tried new things. He ventured out beyond the horizon and found much beyond the scraps on the beach. He found beauty, excitement, and fulfillment as he dared to do all that he was created to do. But the Supreme Council of Seagulls was displeased with this horrible behavior. How could he shame them so much?
A Supreme Council of Transformers, those trying to change our beloved Republic, is asking us to stay on the beach and pick up the scraps. These folks are quick to encourage us to stay on unemployment insurance; if we went beyond that horizon we might find something exciting and want to work. They are quick to encourage us to apply for food stamps; once we accept food stamps when we don’t really need them, we will become accustomed to expecting someone else to feed us. It becomes our right. When students can borrow several hundred thousand dollars to get an education, they have lost the joy and satisfaction of their first job, their feeling of self-reliance. They owe so much; how can they be grateful? They can only hope “someone will rescue them from this terrible burden.” This slide into the culture of entitlement has not brought them hope. It has bought them dependence and a lack of self-worth.
Where are the Jonathans who will say no to the scraps? Where are the Jonathans who will fly loops of self-reliance and who will fly toward the horizons of opportunity? Where are the Jonathans who will appear before the Supreme Council of Transformers and declare their right and responsibility to fly in the open skies created for them? Where are the Jonathans who will dare to teach their young about the free skies and teach them to reject the scraps on the beach of no hope and change? I know they exist; I saw them in the Teen Student Action Summit.
I know the Jonathans exist. But we must encourage the Jonathans to come together in the Jonathan fly-over. If I am still flying toward the horizon at 98, there must be millions of Jonathans out there who can fly circles around me and even land at night. The scraps on the beach have never satisfied me, and I refuse to be satisfied now. I still have a voice and I will use it to convince, to teach, to cajole, to promote the horizons given to us in our founding documents. I will continue to model in the best way I know how the tenets of self-reliance, independence, integrity, compassion, truth, love, frugality, joy, and humility. I am fortunate to live in a nation that was founded on these great principles.
Dr. Ben Franklin, I will do all I can to restore our exceptional heritage to its former greatness. Only then can we continue to be the force for good in the world that freedom brings. We cannot do it as partially free people. We cannot do it when we have replaced the word responsibility with rights.
We can do it when we work, act, and think, with the faith of the birds of the air who sing in the dark before the first light arrives. We can do it with the courage of our Founders who faced death and loss of everything they had to assemble and write our great founding documents. We can do it by teaching our people to fish instead of throwing them a fish. We can do it with love, humility, and the presence of the Divine Guidance that gave us this great, one-of-a-kind nation.
We must insist that the rivers of hope and change flow toward freedom, not toward servitude of spirit and being. We must insist that only streams of self-reliance, independence, thrift, and political integrity are allowed to flow into the rivers of hope of a free nation.
To all you Jonathans. If you haven’t flown toward the horizon lately, the air is fresher out there. If you have been satisfied with one scrap on the beach of entitlement and servitude, throw it down and know that you were created to be much more.