- In the movie, Gladiator, the young arrogant Caesar of
Rome is speaking with his sister in private about the Senators.
- "Who are they to lecture me? A bunch of dried up
- Understanding what her brother has in mind, his sister
- "Don't even think about it. Rome has always had
Senators. They are part of the glory of Rome."
- "The glory of Rome? Caesar says, "and
what is that? What is Rome?"
- She hesitates for a moment. "Rome is an
idea," she says. Which obviously Caesar hasn't the foggiest notion
what she is talking about. He could have asked her, "And what is an
idea?" but I presume that idea never occurred to him.
- If I were to ask you the same question: What is an idea?,
could you answer that? What would your answer be? Would it be the same
as anybody's else's answer? Or would it be different? How different?
- But then, again, who cares? You should care. We all should
care. And before I finish this article I hope you will see why.
- One day, during my years in the advertising
business as a writer and producer of commercials, I happened on a little
book called "How to get an Idea." It's been so many years ago
I don't remember the author's name, but what I do remember is that that
title grabbed me. So I read through the little book.
- In lucid, straightforward language it broke
down the process of "getting an idea" which I been doing, more
or less automatically, many times in writing ads and commercials, but had
never given a second thought as to how I did it. This little book explained
- It consisted of five steps, from the problem
itself, to a list of possible solutions, to an examination of each solution,
to the relaxed, cogitative period, and then Presto, the idea comes!
- Any thinking person goes through this process,
consciously or unconsciously, especially those in the creative fields,
but I had never read anything, before or since, that explained it so well
and so simply.
- Furthermore, I have never before felt so strongly
the need to call public attention to it, what with the uncomfortable and
dangerous position in which we, today's citizens of America, find ourselves.
- I speak here not of the war, our massive debt, our sagging
economy, our job losses, our education dumb-down, or our healthcare crisis,
Heaven knows, these all need resolution.
- No, my concern here are the "dark forces" at
work---some right here at home-- that are attempting to bring this great
nation to its knees by killing the idea that gave it birth.
- In my articles, I have written many times that
the negative situation we find ourselves in is nothing less than the unawareness
of, unconcern for, or unacknowledged fact that we are gradually losing
the very qualities that made this nation what it is. We are losing the
"idea' of what America is, how the idea is unique, and why we must
keep that in mind at all costs.
- So for a moment I presumed to put myself in
the shoes of our great Founding Fathers; to see this raw, rich land as
they saw it; to visualize what they must have been thinking when they wrote
the monumental Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the
- And this is what I came up with.
- Our Founders gave us nothing that we could
eat, drink, ride in, or sit on. They had no notion whatsoever that we might
take this great land and populate it from coast to coast. They could not
possibly see the progress we would make, the inventions we would birth,
the products we would create, the humming production lines, or the wealth
we would accumulate.
- What they gave us instead was something even
more incredible. They gave us an IDEA. A notion in their minds of what
a nation of freedom, independence, and self-determination might be like,
without a king's boot in our face, or a monarchy of generational rulers
forcing their tyrannical rules on us and our children.
- It was the IDEA of THAT kind of land and life which
our Founding Fathers saw in their vision and were willing to give up their
fortunes, families, friends, even their lives, to establish for themselves,
and for those Americans who would follow them in the centuries to come.
- So when I argue--as I often do-to never lose sight of
the principles and values that make America the fantastic nation it is,
I am talking about one thing, and one thing only.
- America, as an IDEA.
- If, through all the chaos and turmoil of this sad world
we ever forget the sanctity and glory of that IDEA, we are indeed doomed
as a nation. And we will have only ourselves to blame.