Sunday, September 3, 2023


It was one of the commonplaces of our age to say 

“No problem!” when responding to some obstacle 

or difficulty that is placed in our way.

This is perhaps an iconic response in a time when 

problems are inevitably and usually routinely 

resolved through ingenuity, technology and, most 

of all, the spirit that anything can be repaired or 


I suggest, however, that we are now entering a new 

problematic era when, although we still try to have 

an irrepressible spirit of repair, our deeper sense 

of what lies before us will be as daunting as it has 

ever been.

This is perhaps especially poignant in contemporary 

American culture where “can do” and optimistic 

attitudes have been an essential part of the American 

public character since its republic was founded. In 

fact, this quality existed even before those plucky 

parents of the first modern democratic representative 

government and its society were established. 

It certainly was the spirited impulse which led the 

nation’s founders to endure the hardships and 

obstacles of the Revolutionary War years, and 150

years later, it galvanized a nation in economic

depression to endure acute unemployment and 

poverty, and then unite to participate in and win a 

world war.

After the collapse of the totalitarian Soviet Union and

the Cold War it provoked, the United States enjoyed

a relatively brief period of international dominance —

economic, cultural, technological and military. In

those recent years, everything seemed to be “no

problem” as we coasted through a period of

seemingly little conflict.

But the world we live in is always in a dynamic state

of change. Two nations with enormous populations,

China and India, took actions to replace generations

of economic suffering to assert their place in the

world. Only one of them chose democracy. Simmering

hot spots in Africa, South America, the Middle East

and Asia boiled over. The nations of the continent of

Europe, long in various conflicts with each other,

attempted to unite, but their efforts have stalled. The

core nation of the old Soviet Union has been unable

to transform itself into a modern democracy, and

has attempted to reconstruct its former empire by

military force.

A global pandemic sobered the belief that, in daily

life, anything was possible, and restrained much

that several recent generations simply took for


Deeply-imbued American traditions of free speech,

free elections, democratic institutions, advancement

by merit and self-reliance are now challenged by

political correctness and other radical theories which 

are neither liberal nor conservative, but come from the

far left and far right — trying to make “No Problem!”

an empty phrase.

For more than 250 years, the American republic has

gradually re-made itself, discarding its flaws one by

one, in what has been a social and political journey

with no apparent final destination.

Although the world’s oldest continual democratic

republic, our tree of liberty — like the sequoia 

redwood — might yet have a very long life span.

We don’t need to dominate the world — no nation

needs to do that — but we do need to continue to

inspire the world, something with all our past and 

present flaws, we have done by not letting mere 

problems and challenges take us down and out.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved. 

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