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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/4/13

By the way, where did your family come from?

Message Aurora Hunter
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 either.
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, once-great empires.
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 goal.
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 it.
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?
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I'm curious; I am interested in virtually everything and even know a little about many topics. I'm an adventurer; I've travelled to or lived in 35 countries. I am partial to intelligent conversation and prose; I even produce some occasion. I (more...)

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By the way, where did your family come from?

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