Considering that we are a nation of
immigrants, we do nothing to make new immigrants feel welcomed and everything to make them
feel like unwanted outcastes, which adds to the national strife and stress. If we
don't want them, then why do we accept them?
Immigrants by and large come with a pre-established love of the US and a
belief that in THIS country, a person's hard work can produce at least a
comfortable way of life. Most want to contribute their talents and efforts to
our country and to become equal citizens. If we were nationally encouraged to
welcome immigrants rather than to treat them as leeches, we could circumvent the
social strife that our culture has afforded previous generations of immigrants,
have a more congenial population, and more quickly access the gifts that
immigrants bring to our country. But we don't do that.
Additionally, I think that those wishing to emigrate to the US should be
informed regarding what they will realistically encounter here. We don't do that
Americans "believe" in equality--and a host of other fine ideals for which
there is no national impetus to make real. I believe that we are at a crossroads
like none we have previously encountered, one that it took historical empires
much longer to reach, and which we have reached at a much younger and immature
point in national history.
Our future will depend in great part on whether we measure up to our ideals
and shun greed, inequality, hubris, aggression, superiority, and environmental
destruction or whether we are overwhelmed by their flag bearers. We are at this
point precipitously close to following in the exact footsteps of defunct,
So, what is it exactly that "we" believe in? We are so divided by labels
that there is precious little that we can all agree on, even when the results
would benefit us all. As it is, we squander the promise of our lives, our
citizenship, and our country squabbling over insignificant issues and moves that
would help us and our country progress and survive, fed by unsupported and
unquestioned lies told us by those who have only their own personal gain in
mind--not the common weal.
For a country that is supposedly "the best" and "the strongest," we are
more fear-based than any other country that I am aware of. Fear both divides us
and unites us. Is that what "we" really believe in? Fear? We are still the
strongest militarily, and that's what keeps us inserting ourselves into foreign
wars--but why? Ostensibly to make the world safe for "democracy," but more and
more our version of democracy looks just like the hierarchies we wish to
convert, and always there is the promise of wealth to be extracted from other
lands, which seems to be the main goal for those who so nonchalantly take our
sons and daughters to war, but not theirs. More and more our fearful "democracy"
seems aimed at disenfranching our "equals," further empowering those with a lust
for greed and power, and further diminishing our individual stake in our
country. And our mighty military force seems continuously to be preparing for
the last conflict and too cumbersome to deal with terrorism. So we all fear and
hate each other and we all fear and hate "the other." It doesn't strike me as a
stable foundation for a country as "great" as ours.
So what does "country" mean? Is it our lands? Our laws? Our economy? Our
culture? I think it is all of these, and more, though they are all in disrepair
after decades of unfunded and undeclared war, which is the only "trophy" we have
"won." For me, "country" principally means the citizens, and when they are not
the principal focus, the country is diminished.
We have been at war, declared or not, for as long as the eldest of us has been alive.
because after Viet Nam our wars (or actions) have been fought by "volunteers,"
which has allowed the rest of us to live rather comfortably without ever being
touched by them - and allowing those who are most interested in pursuing those
wars to do so with little interference. Pretty clever. But now we are paying for
all our comfortable distractions from citizenship with financial bankruptcy,
moral bankruptcy, ethical bankruptcy, educational bankruptcy, health and
well-being bankruptcy, and, most of all civic bankruptcy. Monetizing virtually
every aspect of our lives has led to decay. That is why I favor curbs on
capitalism, and prize quality of life over the accumulation of funds as a life
Words, names, labels have no meaning other than that which we assign them.
Capitalism is inherently neither "good" nor "bad." Like other systems, it
depends on how it is implemented. Socialism has been given a bad name by the
excesses that have marked it in the past that look, in retrospect, much like our
capitalism looks now, with only the wealthy benefiting from it. However, in
successful modern socialist countries today, those citizens enjoy a much higher
quality of life than we do. We've been spooked off from and taught to hate
socialism by those for whom attending to citizens' quality of life is
antithetical to their own greed. And largely, most Americans are unaware that
socialism thrives in this country; it's just that it is aimed at the wealthiest
among us, so we don't acknowledge it. Additionally, we are so gob-smacked by our
own "superiority" that we seem incapable of studying other cultures for what
works best in similar situations with an eye to adapting it to fit and benefit
our democracy and our lives.
Respect, civility, and caring for one another are absent from our culture,
while thriving in more stress-free socialist cultures that value the quality of
life of their citizens, while ours are loaded up with stress, hate, fear, greed,
and misinformation. Our schools do not teach survival in our time and apparently
do not teach any subject well and many not at all; college has become an
extension of high school, with students learning there what was once taught in
high school - and even grade school - making college a requirement for virtually
anything above a dishwasher's job; and worst of all, our schools discourage
independent thought, which means a pliant population that is easily stampeded by
fear and living in unreality, while our world standing in the various
measurements of what makes a great country plummets.
Our own constitution points us forward to a "more perfect union," but our
conservatives thwart attempts to answer that call forward, attempting at every
turn to make ours a country of know-nothings controlled by an exclusionary
government for the benefit of corporations and the wealthy who own and run them
and steadily chip away at individual liberties, all the while deceptively and
soothingly crooning that we are the "best" and branding national self criticism
or assessment and progress towards that more perfect union as unpatriotic, but
praising and honoring those who magnify and multiply their wealth at the expense
of our country.
We are still a very young nation suffering growing pains. It seems to me
that our democracy hangs in the balance between those who push for more freedom
and inclusion and those who push for control and exclusion, and if individual
citizens are not encouraged to accurately educate themselves about their
choices, we may wind up losing democracy in this country. There are, after all,
responsibilities inherent in being citizens. Sadly, these responsibilities don't
seem to to be taken seriously by the citizenry, who, in large part, seem to know
very little about government and unable to articulate their beliefs or reasons
for supporting politicians or positions--but are proficient in spouting talking
points that often sound good but are actually not in their favor.
Another part of still being a very young nation is, that while we have
always had population densities, a greater weight of population is now carried
by those areas, and we have more dense areas than before. We do not have the
experience with population density that other countries have had long before we
were even a country, and so we lag in the social adaptations required to live in
tight quarters. Part of the reason for that lag is a misinterpretation of what
constitutes freedom and individual rights.
Other countries function as a whole; we
function as 50 independent states that chafe at Federal involvement, and that is
only one example of how we are fractured. I see no behavior that marks us as
uniquely American. The few things we seem to have in common are national chains
of businesses--and, unsurprisingly, the dollar. If we don't pull together, I
think that we will fall apart, eaten at our core by fear and greed. Our
democracy is endangered. Only a commitment to it and each other will strengthen
I am sick to death of hearing about how the US, the best, most powerful, accomplished, and wealthiest, etc., country in the world, can't afford this or that. If it were a national priority to further its citizens' well being, the US would have had a national health system long ago. If it were a national priority to seal our borders to undocumented immigrants, that too, would have been done long ago. Clearly, in these two examples, whether or not the citizens supported these actions, the Congress had no desire to take action to accomplish them. But they did support warfare, and lots of it, in the meantime, regardless of citizens' views and regardless of the expense.
We have plenty of money, but apparently lack the will or desire to put it to use for the common good of the people; for that we "can't afford it." Securing the border has been a "goal" since long before I came to live in the US in 1964 as a repatriated, born expat. In the past 50 years we haven't been able to afford to secure the border???! Or was it, like national health care, simply not a priority for Congress?
By the way, where did your family come from?