My Voice

About the author

Evelyn Swart, of Joseph, is a retired educator. She taught mainly in Oregon and Idaho and all ages from first grade to post graduate. Since retirement she has been a consummate volunteer.

My Voice columns reflect the views of the author only. My Voice columns should be 500-700 words or as space allows. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. We edit submissions for brevity, grammar, taste and legal reasons. We do not fact check. We reject those published elsewhere. Send columns to La Grande Observer, 1406 5th St., La Grande, Ore., 97850, fax them to 541-963-7804 or email them to .

What kind of people are we? All my life, I have believed Americans were the kind of people who cared about each other, our fellow citizens. I understood that paying taxes was like joining a cooperative; we benefited from government services and so did others. It meant school children would eat a lunch and maybe a breakfast, and farmers would get reimbursed for the crops they had grown. It made sense to me that our country is stronger when our people are healthy.
I believed that everyone should have an education to their capability and aspirations, and the United States would benefit economically and competitively as we became better educated.

As a citizen, I understood that the First Amendment meant that freedom of religion was for all religions. Americans could worship (or not worship) according to their family’s heritage or their personal choice.

I knew that the press did not always agree with my opinions, but I have freedom to disagree and say so. I believed that the United States of America was the best. In the world of hundreds of countries, my country was at the top. The U.S. had class.

We are changing. But these changes are not making us “great again.” We are not going back to a better time, but it is definitely different.

Why are we caring less about each other, using more inappropriate language and discarding previously
revered guideposts that we long depended upon?

Is our fear of the future causing us to ignore the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount from the Christian Bible? Why do we neglect the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

The framers of the Constitution explained in the Preamble what the Constitution was all about. In our day, we would call the Preamble a mission statement. The Preamble clearly states that in addition to
providing for the common defense, our country’s mission includes promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty for our ourselves and our descendants.

In the beginning history of the country many people came from Europe without money. The Statue of Liberty expresses that our ancestors were “poor, homeless, wretched and tempest-tossed by storms . . .” Our European ancestors were poor, homeless and wretched, but they had class.

How can we call the U.S. a Christian nation when many of our leaders and their followers have traded the teachings of Jesus for the philosophy of Ayn Rand?

Who shall inherit the earth? The meek, or the bullies? The sick, or those wealthy enough to have health care? Those who are in prison, or those who are pardoned? Those who are hungry, or those who are dieting?

Has America lost its mission? Has America lost its class?