We’re not the same. We’re not as good as we used to be. America should be ashamed. But, the point of this essay is not to denigrate as much as it is to ponder what can be done. First, we have to understand how we got here. Then, we can try to figure out how to dig ourselves out of this mess.
WE HAVE NO CAUSE TO GALVANIZE US. I was born in 1953. Eight years after the end of World War II. Eight years after our country lead the rest of the free world in defeating one of the worst persons and causes to ever inhabit the Earth. There was pride in that accomplishment. A sense our country could do anything. A feeling that we were all in it together. From that spawned a new spirit of potential. Eight years later President Kennedy announced a space program with a goal of going to the Moon. Eight years after that, men walked on the Moon. During that period our country recognized a real threat, a competitor, the Soviet Union. We faced that together. And, we also were blessed with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a labor law which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Some of this was frightening. But, it brought us all together. We trusted we could be better. We believed.
BUT LOVE WAS REPLACED BY EVIL AND HATE. President Kennedy was murdered. And so was Bobby Kennedy, who was on the cusp of possibly becoming our president in 1968. And Martin Luther King, Jr. Those weren’t the only ones, but losing those three men collectively ripped out our hearts. In its place came fear, pessimism, distrust of our own values, and a void that allowed selfish behavior and darkness to prevail. That’s what happens when a country loses its collective soul. Opportunists take over. Phony leaders. Self-preservationists.
SO, THEN WE REALIZED THAT LEADERS LIE AND WE BECAME DIVIDED. We got Nixon, who nobody ever trusted, and instead of believing in our country and our leaders providing direction, we got off the track. After decades of flawed leaders who still believed in the vision of America, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, we were faced with a vacuum, and out of the darkness came disagreement and a lack of collective vision. And, the rest of the world saw that America was not the perfect model, not the place that could solve all the world’s problems. No, we were Imperialists, Ugly Americans, mercenaries out to conquer the world to build an American empire. It didn’t wash. Didn’t wash for leaders in Asia nor the Middle East. And, we didn’t have the vision, nor the heart, nor the compassion to see it coming. We turned inward and selfish. And, we became all about us, I, me, mine.
WE’VE BEEN AT WAR WITH OURSELVES FOR FIVE DECADES. When our spirit was broken due to distrust of leaders, and the crushing of the peace and love movement of the sixties, war, famine, disease, population growth, destruction of the environment, disaster man-made and natural, income inequality, hate and bigotry, there was no way out. So, we began to let issues divide us. We lost America. We caved into arguments without concession, without the ability to compromise. Our legislators would not and could not set an example, so who were we to follow? We can’t talk to each other about the major issues of our time such as guns, the environment, women’s rights, healthcare, government, basic human rights. We can’t even kindly agree to disagree. So, what have we done? We’ve allowed soulless individuals to capture our hearts and our minds, and we’ve become stupid and numb in the interim. And, that needs to stop.
WE NEED TO GATHER OURSELVES AND RECAPTURE THE AMERICAN SPIRIT. We must embrace the best of ourselves. We can’t allow ruthlessness, lack of compassion, hate, and deceit to rule our spirits. We are better than this. We can’t allow agendas of the miserable people amongst us to guide us to oblivion. We must admit our faults and care about each other. We must pay attention to the suffering of our fellow men and women, but not be overcome by it. We have to believe in the goodness of this country, and not in the false promises of elected officials who fail to see the bigger picture of the world as a whole and won’t recognize the future is now and it doesn’t live in their pockets. The present and the future belongs to us all and when we recognize the dialogue that is void of compassion, wisdom and historical perspective we must say no and disregard this because it is not in our collective interest.
THE BOTTOM LINE. Though idyllic, we need to begin by believing that we all are one, no matter what is preached to us by phony leaders. We need to continue to let our collective voices be heard and not accept mediocrity. We need to be compassionate and we need to disallow leaders who aren’t in it with us and for all of us and who aren’t models of who we want to be to speak for us. We need to get them to stand down and they must represent our spirit, the American spirit. The American consciousness. And that means everyone, young and old, must do their part. We need to stop letting the agendas and blather of unconscious people to guide what we say and do. We know better. We are better. Let’s all act better. Seek the best in all of us. We can do this. We must do this.
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