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The United States of Egoism

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Larry Sakin
Message Larry Sakin
The holiday season is here. It's the time to hear the melodic beeps of computer cash registers in our heads while making up lists of people we're giving useless sh*t to so we can show how much we love them.

Frankly, I don't know why we even continue the holiday season. Besides shooting our mouths off at people we perceive as enemies, the only things we do well in this country is shop and consume, and we engage in those latter distractions feverishly throughout the year. So except for the litany of moronic complaints from right-wing religious nuts about how the holidays aren't quite Christian enough, this supposed time of merriment is becoming quite dull.

I'd be less inclined to engage in hum-buggery if what our country really needed could be found at a Big Lots or JC Penny store. Sadly, this small gift to our nation is extremely expensive; one we can't purchase with our no limit American Express cards or our re-financed home equity loans and therefore not available in any retail store.

It's the gift of humility.

For the last twenty-five years, our country has engaged in an egoism that far exceeds our ability to control it. It has led us into several wars for the purpose of propping up our own standing in the world and enhancing the profiles of our dear leaders in Washington. It has led to the diminishment of public education, public housing, well-paying jobs, community building, our environment, an amazing depletion of precious natural resources, economic stability, and to disdaining the idea of allowing those more unfortunate than ourselves the chance at a leg up in our society.

We've traded it all for the ability to buy bigger cars to feed our addiction to status, bigger homes to keep up with the Jones', and massive personal debt so we can impress our friends with DVD's of vacations we can't afford. More importantly, we've moved into a fantasy world in which we foist all of our problems upon elected leaders who couldn't care less about us, and keep voting for them until we finally figure out that they don't care, replacing them with a new bunch of idiots who we'll throw out of office in a couple of years.

And we want more. I can't tell you how many times people have argued with me about re-creating the social welfare net in this country. "Where's MY safety net?" they say, "where's MY subsidy?" They have no idea how subsidized their everyday lives truly are, and for that matter don't care. They just want to get a fatter tax refund so they can buy more things they really don't need.

It's understandable why they feel this way. All the messages we receive are oriented towards the self. News shows are no more than extended promotional announcements for some product or another. There are hundreds of shopping networks on cable and satellite TV which offer convenient payment plans on overpriced items; and thousands of infomercials fill our heads with dreams of becoming rich. Our churches feed us more bullshit, the ministers holding out the self and our families as our major priorities. Everything in our lives has been reduced to having or not having; winners and losers. And losers are not tolerated.

With all the conveniences and self-aggrandizement that comes with our product laden world, we've lost our souls. Our ability to separate what's truly important from the crap that passes as conventional wisdom comes from our humbleness, the acknowledgement that we are but specks of dust in an infinite universe filled with mystery and wonder. It comes from the understanding that we're on this planet to learn and grow with each passing minute, and extend that knowledge on to each person we come in contact with, regardless of their race, sex, political affiliation or economic position in life. And it comes from the ability to share what we have with the people who need it most. Not just during the holidays, but each day. Sadly, these gifts can't fit into salt shaker, a perfume bottle, or a diamond ring box. They're too large to fit into the back seat of a Hummer H3 or Cadillac Escalade. However, when used properly, these concepts can change the world as we know it, unlike a new car or frilly bracelet.

It's true these sentiments are expressed countless times in editorials across the nation. But we never seem to get the point, so it bears repeating. Take all of your digital cameras, your SUV's and new Mustang convertibles and stick 'em where the sun don't shine. If we really want to invoke the spirit of this season, let's dig way down deep inside ourselves and discover what we can give to make a real difference in each person's life.
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Larry Sakin is a former non-profit medical organization executive and music producer. His writing can be found on Mytown.ca, Blogcritics, OpEd News, The People's Voice, Craig's List and The Progressive magazine. He also advocates for literacy and (more...)
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