The philosophers' stone, as defined in my dictionary, is "an imaginary stone believed to have the power of transmuting the baser metals into gold and much sought for by the alchemists."
In modern America, we use the words "coupon," "lottery ticket" and "voter's ballot" in place of the expression, "philosophers' stone."
Alchemy is defined as the "power to transform something common into something precious." A coupon transforms a piece of paper into discounted or free goods (I've been known to use a coupon now and then). A lottery ticket may transform a piece of paper into big bucks, and a voter's ballot can politically transform wants into rights.
Alchemist are "people given to the study and practice of alchemy;" in short, the practice of trying to get something for nothing or at someone else's expense.
Some people who were raised by alchemists no longer believe in the old (outdated?) American value system, which taught that an individual must work to satisfy wants or needs. Some Americans are looking for coupons to get freebies, dream they can live on easy street with lottery winnings, or look to the government to declare their wants and needs as "rights" due to them, to supply everything for them without work or effort on their part.
Many of America's grandfathers know the values they grew up with have been altered, but some of their children and grandchildren no longer listen to the wisdom of their elders. That's really a shame, because history proves liberties are lost when the people of a nation change the values of a culture handed down to them in their search for the philosopher's stone.
Once liberty is lost, alchemists always end up slaves under a dictatorship while, elsewhere, a new nation arises which revives the kind of values America was born with. A declining nation, obsessed with alchemy (the attitude of getting something for nothing) gradually fades into "once upon a time" status.
Some think it's too late to try and reverse this process of declining values in America. Like many of my elders (although I'm not quite 40 years old), I think our young are worth the educational effort concerning the old American values. I still believe we may be able to stop this "suicide of the West."
If you think I'm pulling your leg or simply over-reacting, just ask Grandpa; but remember: if he tells you our decline is some kind of giant, planned conspiracy, don't laugh too hard. He may be right.
---Kenneth J. Wolf #15 (08/24/91)
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