Lyrics by Ry Cooder and Mavis Staples instruct to “keep your eyes on the prize.” Whether that prize is freedom from slavery or a land of peace and plenty, it is what gives us hope, what we strive for, makes our world a better place.
Ronald Reagan, describing his “Shining City on the Hill,” said: “In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.” There you have it, an idea toward which we could strive, a prize we could hold on to.
We lost sight of our prize in recent years, it would seem. Infrastructure, education, social safety net, the natural world are all losing out to a myopic grip of immediate gratification. In Iowa we could set our sights in a new direction again, though, if we stop poisoning farmland, start regenerating prairies, start rebuilding and protecting native habitats, and start planting crops to feed people and not machinery. Oh, that the wave of the future was not virtual video games, but rather that hills, streams and fields were places for children to play once again.