I believe in the idea of America. Sadly, I’ve lost faith in the country. A few years back, I ventured out to Europe, to backpack around for a few months. Definitely the best experience of my life. At that point, I thought the United States was the best country on Planet Earth, with the most freedoms afforded to its people.
As time goes by, though, things change. In this instance, people change. I’ve grown more cynical, and now stand on the fence. What’s changed? For one, I’ve taken a more critical look at the freedoms Americans have been granted. They’re not as impressive as one would imagine. Freedom is more than rhetoric and patriotism, which leads us to the problems facing the U.S. Through my eyes, everyday people are not necessarily more free than other countrymen.
Consider my friend Logan. He recently moved to Los Angeles for a job, and to follow his aspirations to produce music. Moving to L.A, can you guess what the first thing Logan did?
He bought a car. Had to…..how else would he get to work? Public transportation? That’s a pipe dream out that way. Now this is not me railing against Los Angeles. Anywhere, everywhere, you need an automobile. Just take a look at the American infrastructure. We’re a nation built on highways, rather than say, the German model, which is built on railways. So right off the bat, if you want to chase down the American dream, your first act is to put yourself into debt.
While not an American concept, debt is something most everyday people have wholeheartedly embraced. On a sidenote, people also embrace an ‘in the moment’ perspective, deferring responsibility and consequences for the future. People, if they’re free, are shareholders. Living in a free market democracy leads to inequity.
Like any marketplace, there are buyers and sellers. But unlike any other system in the world, American corporations were given the rights of people. Where else is an abstract entity given the rights of everyday men and women (especially the right to privacy)? Due to this, the sellers exert incredible influence over buyers, literally in every aspect of life. Look in your child’s school. Dollars to donuts they’ve got a soda machine. Why is this worth mentioning? It’s simply one more avenue for trans-nationals to cultivate brand loyalty.
See, this is essentially the problem I’m grappling with. In the American system, there are two types of people: tangible and intangible. The intangible people, they’re corporate entities. When the supreme court decided in 1873 to grant 14th amendment rights to corporate entities, the shift towards oligarchy began. How can profit driven entities be the same as people? Show me the person you know whose only interested in making money, and I’ll show you a materialistic, shallow, rather petty shell of a human being. People seek out more than bottom line profits. They want love, understanding, a shoulder to lean on, to laugh and cry and all the other emotions entwined with the human condition.
Granting humanity to entities? That’s a stretch. But as they say, the die’s been cast, and that’s the world we’re living in today. This is the problem, as I see it. People have lost touch with people, through myriad of modern conveniences, from GPS systems to social networking websites to strip malls to everything in between. And that’s why I’m on the fence. As great a country as America may have the potential to be, we’re not that country. I’d still rather live here than, say, Bolivia.
As you look back, though, things are simply happening again? Iraqi wmd’s? Sound like the Gulf of Tonkin? What bothers me about everything that’s happening today is people are being spoon fed rhetoric and lies, and they like it! In my few years on Earth, I’ve learned one hard lesson. People don’t want to hear it. Doesn’t matter what you’ve got to say, they don’t want to hear it. Let me take you back to high school football practice. Coach Wiederkehr used to warn us of getting fat and happy; his words had meaning, carrying us to the Long Island title. But his warning, not to be fat and happy, is something that others need to hear.
For most Americans, if you have a secure job, a car you enjoy driving, some semblence of a family or social life, you’re content. I believe that’s because people don’t critically question the things going on around them. That’s why I’m on the fence, because I don’t know what merit there is venturing into the fracas. As much as I’d like to help a few other people see the elaborate shell game taking place on our dime, I don’t think it’s that easy to change minds. The closing of America’s collective mind is the saddest tragedy of our time, and something that won’t stop until people begin questioning the fundamentals of contemporary society. America’s a great idea….by the people, for the people. Let’s try and make it happen one of these days.