Today was a 32 mile walk to Hastings and I experienced my first bout of mental depression since leaving Oregon. This depression had nothing to do with the physical walk and tired feet but was instead related to my secondary purpose - sharing my love of American history and the Constitution. I am beginning to feel that no one really cares. I suppose it started when not a single school even bothered to reply to my offer to talk to their history classes. I tried follow-up calls hoping to learn what I might better do in future solicitations and talked briefly with one principal. He said his school was busy trying to raise test scores and wished me well. Is this what education has come to?
I had been "mulling this over" on the walk from Kearney and then came my experience with the Boy Scouts. Camped next to me in Minden was a Scout troop and I thought, "What better group to ask about the meaning of freedom than some red-blooded American Scouts?" I walked over and explained my mission to the adult leader asking if he would discuss freedom with his Scouts and let me know what the boys shared. He looked at me like I was a freak - not a single answer did I receive.
Therefore, with cars zooming by, I was feeling rather lonely and insignificant as I walked on down the highway.
To tell the truth, I'm not sure if the most Americans think about or appreciate their freedoms. We like to wave flags, set off fireworks, and embrace Mom's apple pie. We readily use the term "freedom" but without substance it is only a cliche. Now don't get me wrong - everyone has been nice, everyone has been encouraging, and everyone has been quick to wish me well, but this very real question leaves most people lacking. Americans are quick to say what's wrong with the country or their feelings about the President but to answer a question like, "What does freedom mean?" almost makes them uncomfortable.
Perhaps this is all in my mind. Perhaps I've just hit a momentary mental wall.
I hope so - perhaps.