A few years ago, I proposed we make 2015 the year of Restored Pride. I said it was going to be a challenge. There were so many people who lost their pride in America and the values inherent in a nation built on freedoms and citizen-directed governing.
I knew of others who were new to our country, people who came for the freedoms, but seemed more troubled by their anxieties about government and America’s lifestyle. It was understandable why they were disinterested in adopting the nation’s ways when they met Americans with lost pride, people cold, inconsiderate, and behaving as though constantly angry.
I caught myself falling into that category and got upset when reflecting on my actions. That’s when I knew we needed a campaign to restore American pride.
So, where do we start?
When Americans manage projects that seem overwhelming in their workplaces, smart managers look for quick wins. They look for the low-hanging fruit that if picked would give their teams a sense of accomplishment. The team would know then that the campaign was worth the effort; that the small steps and realistic goals lead to big project success.
Here is what I recommended for a first step: Begin with an old theme that worked in previous decades. Let’s restore pride in the beauty of our natural resources.
The theme I remembered working in the 1960s and 1970s was Keep America Beautiful, the title of a not-for-profit organization supported by several leading private-industry companies. I thought we had lost that pride, but felt it was an easy one to regain. I said it’s one that each citizen needs to adopt.
Here is an example of what I mean. A woman in downtown Baltimore was recently spotted unwrapping food during a midday outing. She walked past a trashcan, but instead of depositing her wrapper in the can, she threw it to the street. Why?
When I heard the story from an upset family member, I was instantly angry too. It was a blatant display of disrespect for the city and all of us as members of the community.
Already I had been provoked when walking my dogs to a park, which I did frequently then. We crossed a bridge over the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The road had become an unauthorized dumping ground for unwanted mattresses, furniture, fast-food restaurant sacks, alcohol bottles and cans, and a few unmentionables.
The dogs and I saw deer, fox, badgers, squirrels, rabbits, and a surprising variety of birds as we walked past the disgusting display of human trash. The creatures’ natural homes were littered to the point that their sources of food and shelter could not grow. I was ashamed.
I said then that we can stop these needless actions and restore natural beauty to wildlife habitat and our city streets, the places that make America a special place to be; special places that provide us all resources and comforts that few nations can claim.
True then and today, we United States citizens are envied around the world, but then despised when they see how poorly we treat what we have. Simple actions to dispose of our debris in the proper places and to pick up after those who obviously need more time to understand how damaging their neglect can be are steps we all need to take.
Keeping America beautiful is a low-hanging fruit in the campaign to restore pride. Let’s start there. Let’s start now. Let’s all keep America more beautiful. It’s a very satisfying step toward pride.