I Am a Dissident
By Timothy V. Gatto
I am a dissident. This term allows my government to ignore
my opinions and also enables the rest of America to discount any or all of my
opinions. I am also a "conspiracy theorist", because I believe that more than
one person in my government are colluding together in order to dupe the
American people to believe things that are not true. Therefore, I am of no
consequence. Anything I say can be attributed to the "lunatic fringe". I have
been framed, that is, I have been relegated to the sidelines of any debate of
consequence. I have been neatly packaged and categorized so that my opinions
have no relevance.
I should be outraged, but the truth is such, that I consider my labeling to be a badge of honor. To be considered otherwise would brand me as a participant in what I consider to be the ultimate betrayal of everything good that this nation has ever stood for.
Let me be frank. I'm not saying for a moment that America
was ever a "shining light of democracy" or a nation that was totally pure in
deed and actions. Still, at one time, it was the world's best chance since
ancient Athens to create something noble. This nation was once an experiment to
build a nation that was "of the people, and for the people".
Sure, there were those that never subscribed to that quaint notion. In fact, many of the people entrusted to continue this experiment in representative government were in fact, some of the most duplicitous individuals in our nation's history, but it never seemed to matter because eventually, the nation would right itself and follow the path laid out for us by those that initiated this great experiment. Just as in all of mankind's many endeavors, nothing about this nation has ever been perfect because perfection doesn't exist, but still, it was a valiant effort.
Everything in the physical world has a beginning and an end. The more we cherish something, the longer we try to hold on to it. When we lose something we hold especially dear, it is generally recognized that we go through different stages of grief. Probably the most well-known of these might be from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' book, "On Death and Dying." In it, she identified five stages that a dying patient experiences when informed of their terminal prognosis.
The stages Kubler-Ross identified are:
* Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
* Anger (why is this happening to me?)
* Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
* Depression (I don't care anymore)
* Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)
The death of an idea or the death of an ideal can be as hard to deal with as our own death or the death of a loved one. I believe that we are witnessing the death of both; an idea and an ideal. I believe that we are watching the death of America, and the death of what she once enshrined in the values of the Constitution and the values of her people. The nation that was once a beacon of light in a world that at times could be cruel and dark for people for people living in places where despair was a lifetime event came here to break out of the circumstances they were born into. In America people could reinvent themselves, and in a country of immigrants, they had the closest thing to an even break that they could ever hope to have anywhere else.
This nation came into being because of ideas that people
developed after living under a British monarchy that seemed to have no regard
for their rights. The people who founded this nation also believed in ideals
that they fought over with each other tooth and nail, for many long months,
virtual prisoners in a house that was shuttered during the hottest part of the
summer. Some of these very same men died, and some lost everything they had
acquired in their lives, in order that they be given the chance to live their
ideas and ideals. No people had ever been as bold as those that put everything
they had, and everything they were, on the line against the superpower of the
era. This wasn't just a political revolution; it was a revolution of ideas.
That was "American exceptionalism".
Today we are bombarded with the term "American exceptionalism".
The sad part of this is that most of the people that use the term have no idea
of what it means. When they say America is exceptional, they usually refer to
the fact that our nation is the world's lone superpower. They pride themselves
in the fact that we went from a group of colonies to a superpower that actually
rescued its mother country from fascism. They point to our inventiveness and
our power" always our power. That isn't American exceptionalism, its
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