Having grown up in a small town in Central Kansas I was taught to believe that my country, the United States of America, was a land committed to justice and peace, a nation that one could count on to do the right thing, a country of civilized folks who had but one thing in mind…….. that of doing the will of God. I also began to realize that there is nothing wrong with feeling ashamed for having done something wrong, that such a response is a rather natural consequence of having violated one’s conscience, a voice from deep within that is no doubt a reliable guide for how a man (or woman) of true integrity ought to live his (or her) life. However, for those who seem to lack the capacity to feel ashamed, one can only wonder what must be wrong with them.
As I began to emerge into manhood there was an ever, ongoing flow of hints, subtle suggestions that things were not as I had been told. However, it wasn’t until our country vented its awful wrath upon a post 9-11 world that I began to realize that I had been misled. At that point I had no choice but to take a long, hard look at the history of our country, a thorough examination of what turned out to be a past drenched in the blood of our foes, foreign lands raped of their natural resources, democratically elected governments overthrown, an outrageous succession of egregious arrangements with tyrants and dictators from around the world, along with the fact that our nation is the only developed country in the world that utilizes the death penalty to kill its own people, and that we imprison more of our own people than any other nation in the world…… all of such having enabled me to gain a better understanding of why there are so many folks around the world who have become upset by our nation’s apparent willingness to abuse and exploit our fellowman. As a result of what I found, I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the American public is out of touch with reality, that such folks have unwittingly allowed themselves to have become mercilessly entangled in a world of fabrication and make-believe, a nation dominated by sheepish yes-men unwilling to face the fact that we, as a nation, are, and for some time have been, caught in a downward spiral of moral decline.
I have found it rather common for folks to become a bit upset with people like myself who occasionally pass judgment upon our country. In fact some have even told me that if I don’t like my country then perhaps I ought to consider leaving it. Such folks seem to believe that criticizing one’s country (one that has attained such a high standard of living…… as if such a thing should make a difference) is somehow unpatriotic. However, the last time I checked there seemed to be no relationship whatsoever between a nation’s quality of life and that of its moral standards. I have also found that individuals that tend to equate criticism of one’s country with that of being unpatriotic either do not understand the postulates upon which democracy is based or that their identity is so terribly intertwined with that of their nation that they have seemingly lost the capacity to reason in an objective manner. Finally, based upon my experience of having debated with such folks, it has become rather clear to me that most of these quislings have little or no education as well as being relatively uninformed as to what is going on in the world.
Now, if you don’t mind, allow me to take a look at a few things that tend to bother me regarding the country in which I just happen to have been born……. the United States of America.
One only needs to recall the fact that a major segment of the Southern Baptist Church welcomed Adolph Hitler’s march to war in order to uncover the underlying dynamics of such an arrogant faith. According to an article written by William Loyd Allen published in the Christian Century, How Baptists Assessed Hitler (September, 1982), a major segment of the Southern Baptist church (in attending the 1934 Baptist World Alliance meeting in Berlin, Germany) demonstrated a rather open-armed acceptance of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Falling in line with Nazi propaganda, Allen indicates that the Southern Baptist delegation willingly ignored issues associated with the Nazis’ mistreatment of minorities (Jews, Gypsies, the mentally handicapped, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as others). However, such a disregard can easily be understood once one realizes that such an exclusively narrow-minded approach to ethics, one that was (and still is) limited to personal problems such as that of drinking, smoking, dancing, and sex no doubt kept them from developing an interest in problems associated with social injustice. This, along with Southern Baptists’ untoward emphasis upon obedience (that all authority is given by God), an otherworldly-oriented fervor to evangelize the world, a willingness to accept military solutions, racial pride (an historic prejudice toward Blacks), and an out-and-out contempt for communism, quite clearly led the Southern Baptist delegation to support Hitler’s attempt to rule the world. Seemingly they would have learned, but with the exact same factors in place some seventy years later, the Southern Baptists, flaunting the same degree of arrogance, have become enthusiastic supporters of the Bush administration in an arrogantly bellicose drive to take over the world.
Due to what appears to have been a rather serious lapse of judgment on the part of tens of millions of Americans, the voters, for whatever reason (perhaps it was a matter of fear), chose to place into power a President (a presidential administration) that: may well have laid the groundwork for 9-11 (the “new Pearl Harbor”) that, according to PNAC (Project for the New American Century), was needed in order to pave the way for our country’s military/economic takeover of the world; is in the preparatory stages of going to war with Iran (a conflict that will no doubt reign havoc upon our nation as well as that of the world); lied to the American people in regards to why we went to war with Iraq; vetoed hundreds of U.N. resolutions oriented towards helping the world to become a more humane and peaceful place in which to live; has been unwilling to join with other nations in treaties and accords that would lead to betterment in the world (i.e., the Kyoto Protocol); unscrupulously armed and in other ways supported Israel in its decades-long attacks upon the Palestinian people; tampered with votes (especially in Ohio) during the 2004 presidential election enabling the Republican Party to steal another election; lied to citizens in that our government has no intention of leaving Iraq given the fact that it is in the process of building as many as fourteen “Enduring Military Bases” (enough to house at least 100,000 soldiers) along with that of having built the world’s largest Foreign Embassy located in Baghdad (a 592 million dollar, 104-acre, 21-building complex); committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, as well as high crimes and misdemeanors for which several of our leaders should be impeached; condoned the systematic use of torture against prisoners; violated the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution by intentionally choosing to interfere with the free flow of information to the American people; enacted laws (such as that of the Patriot Act) that are seriously eroding our freedoms; through the use of the Military Commissions Act, granted the President the right to arbitrarily detain, imprison, and torture U.S. citizens at that of his own discretion (and without the right of Habeas Corpus!); allowed the President to disobey more than 750 U.S. laws through the use of so-called “signing statements”; through the passage of the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 set the stage for, essentially creating the likelihood that, our country might one day become a military dictatorship; allowed the United State’s military to develop an extremely sophisticated, website-based video game (America’s Army) to be used as a recruitment device that is teaching millions (perhaps as many as nine million) of our children to kill human beings with an increased degree of efficiency, all of such having desensitized our teenagers to kill others with little, or no, psychological pain; has enabled politicians to profit immensely from funds awarded to corporate enterprises associated with the military-industrial complex; bankrupted the nation by allowing the national debt to rise to nine trillion dollars in spite of the fact that the nation’s actual debt is a little over 59 trillion dollars due to the government’s use of unorthodox (essentially unethical if not illegal) accounting practices that intentionally disregard (essentially misinforming the American people with respect to) unfunded promises to reimburse (that is to repay) Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and an assortment of federal retirement programs; and has been absolutely unwilling to take responsibility for the fact that we, as a nation, have done more to destroy the ecosystem of our planet than anyone else on Earth.
Concerning the education (or shall I say the mis-education) of our children it is high time that we do the right thing, that we stop lying to our kids and begin telling them the truth. The school’s job is not to make “good citizens” of our children, for in doing such a thing our children end up being duped, conditioned, slowly but surely brainwashed, into becoming truckling sycophants, bootlicking followers of the status quo. As one who has taught college students for the past 41 years, the only task worthy of a teacher is that of teaching our kids how to think for themselves, critical thinking skills that might perhaps enable them to counter the outrageous mendacity of those in power, chauvinistic jingoes who would, through the use of propaganda, have our children believe a lie rather than that which is true.
Regarding our economy, a capitalistic enterprise focused upon one, and only one, thing (the enrichment of the rich euphemistically referred to as that of “the American Dream”), we, as Americans (those of us who are rather well-to-do), should be ashamed of ourselves, ashamed of having become an island of enormous wealth stationed in the midst of a poverty-ridden world (not to mention an ever-expanding proportion of our own people who are poor) in that we go to bed every night with a willingness to anesthetize ourselves to the needs of billions of folks whose lives are inextricably mired in an absolutely desperate attempt to simply survive. And then due to what appears to be a rather natural correlate of capitalism (activities that no doubt follow capitalism wherever it goes), the American people (folks so terribly possessed by that which they possess) have developed an apparently insatiable appetite to be rich (the capacity to consume anything and everything they want), the need to be constantly entertained, a near addictive fascination with sex, drugs, gambling, pleasure, power, and violence, and all of such no doubt nullifying any legitimate interest in the “finer things of life” such as that of developing a meaningful philosophy of life, a desire to understand what it means to be a human being, and that which might perhaps be worthy of our time here on Earth.
And then based upon the laws of our nation, lobbyists (highly paid representatives of the corporate world) have been granted the right to converge upon our elected officials for no other reason than to coerce them into conducting business in a manner that more often than not benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. We, as a people, have been led to believe that our votes count when in fact our ballots far too often elect congressmen, the majority of which, wait in hiding for a handout (a bribe) that will serve to fill their “electoral coffers,” and all of such in exchange for a simple promise to use their congressional powers to expedite the needs of their benefactors who in turn are far too likely to reward their compatriots with a well-paid, “post-retirement” position the purpose of which is to use their “congressional knowledge” to bribe those who have now taken their place; a revolving door of immense corruption that is no doubt destroying the foundations of a once democratic republic!
The final, and perhaps most important, reason why I am ashamed to be an American is due to the fact that we, more than any other people, have used our accumulated wealth (part of which comes from money earned from having sold more weapons of war to the rest of the world than the rest of the world combined) along with having developed the largest, most destructive military force (larger than the accumulated defense budgets of the rest of the world combined) since the beginning of time (next year’s defense budget will be nearly 700 billion dollars!), all the while realizing that if we had proven our love for God by using such funds to feed the hungry, medicate the sick, clothe the poor, house the homeless, and liberate the oppressed, we would have become a nation loved and revered by all…… rather than, as things have turned out, having become a land hated by nearly everyone in the world.
In conclusion, in order that you might understand where I am coming from, you need to realize that I do in fact have a bit of respect for my country, or at least for that which was envisioned by our forefathers, the founders of, what has turned out to be, a once great nation. However, just as we would with someone we love, we have no choice but to call attention to weakness, since in doing such a thing we give our loved ones an opportunity to address the problem. It is, and must be, the same with that of the land in which we have been born. If we truly care about our country, if we really do want our nation to flourish, then we should realize that we have not only the right, but, much more importantly, the responsibility, perhaps even, one might say, a moral responsibility to point out its deficiencies in order that it might once again be revived. For we must remember, as our nation goes, so do we……. in its flourishing we, as a people, will no doubt thrive, but in passing away, we, as a collective society, might well cease to exist.