Who is America?

 

In the final days of the 2016 election a dark shadow looms over the American people. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of who we are, that part of us that was kind and decent and respectful. It has opened the door to today’s reality and exposed it in deep, ominous tones. The veil has been removed, illuminating the American culture personified by the events that have played out in recent months. This culture is no longer defined by race or demographic as it has perpetrated every home, every community, every religion, race, and political affiliation. It is driven by a set of convictions that can’t be distinguished by or separated from, yet brings out the worst of humanity at a time where we need to stand together the most.

It is impossible to see America today through the rose tinted glasses or blinders we once wore to shelter our view of the realities of the world that lay beyond the narrow path ahead, ignorant to matters that plague the world. No longer can we turn our heads to the destructive behavior of people in businesses, restaurants, as consumers, and on our roadways. It is now that we have to see beyond what we think we can reach and make positive changes for our future, not just as a nation but as a global community because the days are long gone where we should be thinking of ourselves as an individual entity. Humanity lives within a world that has evolved to the point where we can only thrive together. Diplomatic cordiality and international affairs are the only way any country on this beautiful Earth can prosper both economically and morally and I believe the American people have no room for isolation and subjugation.

It is difficult to think from an impartial political standpoint, but I see two things that have been highlighted in this election that speak volumes about our cultural views. On one side, I see precarious ideals of commonplace politics that have been acceptable for many years. The status quo for anyone to succeed in the political world is to make promises to their constituents they know they can’t keep and to participate in the practice of trading favors, continued non-disclosure and undermining policy. These behaviors have been tolerated for a long time and are not new to politics, yet we choose to focus on minor infractions instead of the entire entity. We have individuals that cause fractures and abuse within our governing body, infecting the system as a whole. Think of it this way, rather than changing the chemistry of the body, we amputate the infected area in hopes of preventing the spread of infection. Instead, we should be focusing on changing this system that allows for the exploitation of the American people and promotes individual agendas instead of rallying together the masses in a joint effort to make things stronger for our future. .

We have individuals who feel they are not bound by standard policy across the board, believing they have attained a status far above the common people and are not required to follow everyone else’s rules or, arguably the lesser of two evils, they follow unwritten playground rules where it’s acceptable behavior if everyone else is doing it… Either is actionable within the political realm but often overlooked or ignored by our government. The point is, policy is a gray area in many forums and has historically been utilized or twisted for the benefit of individuals, often for personal profit, instead of for the benefit of the community as a whole.

On the other side of this dingy coin is a swarm of political aggression that came out of the woodwork of society that has been ingrained within the foundation of America throughout history. For many Americans it’s been a blindside, but we have ignored it for centuries and, to be honest, it has been culturally accepted as a part of life and is often embraced, and begrudgingly confused, as a quality befitting of a leader.  However, there is an immense difference between leadership and control that has become largely ignored. The making of a leader requires that they stand on the shoulders of others. The difference is whether those shoulders are voluntarily staking claim to that position or they are forced into submission.

In an open society obsessed with football, I give this analogy: We have the bully in the position of quarterback with his minions receiving their plays from their leader and who’s only goal is to get the ball to the end zone while the rest of society plays defense for the other team. The difference is many of the players aren’t even aware they are playing a game.

Don’t get me wrong, the two sides of the coin are both made of the same elements and are both dismally tarnished. The difference is one side’s unrestrained actions are in full view of the public instead of behind closed doors or swept quietly under the rug. Regardless, we have an election that will, no doubt, produce results that have consequences on both sides. I think my confusion at this point is in the moral dilemma that has reared the most vicious backlash in both the social and news outlets and has gone beyond drawing political lines, extending far into boldly placed ethical and moral ones.

What comes into question here is the blatant disregard for others and an overwhelming arrogance in the belief that despite what they do, people will still follow them. Where I separate myself here though and back my administration is in the understanding that there are many government decisions that require action that might call into question their moral values, especially in times of crisis where decisions need to be made quickly and human lives are at stake. However, what is not understood is the open policy of undermining tax laws and manipulating the legal system to benefit and profit at the demise of small businesses while openly separating yourself from the public in terms of what is considered acceptable behavior.

But then what is “acceptable’ behavior?

In a culture driven by immediate results and instant gratification, morality, manners and mutual respect have been cut in order to make convenience fit into our social mold. We demand instead of request. We text rather than take the time speak to each other. We speed through a yellow light instead of slow down or cautiously proceeding. We time everything, including how long we wait at a drive through because if it takes more than two minutes we get our meal for free.

I have had more than a few occasions where I have been run off the road and spit at through the car window for, of all things, going the speed limit or stopping at a stop sign even when there was no opposing traffic. You could call it road rage, but it really rests on the principles of time and respect. Time in the sense that you are impeding their effort to win the Indy 500 taking place at that very moment or your meticulousness at being a good driver has made them late to work for the umpteenth time. Respect in the sense that your decision to move your car into “their” lane has somehow disrespected them, resulting in some need for retribution. More than a few deaths in this country have been attributed to this kind of aggression.

We often hear that we’ve become a culture where everyone take offense and no one wants to hear the brutal truth,  that we’ve become overly sensitive. Although this is a palpable issue, especially in the political and legal sense, we have also molded something much more dangerous. What has become commonplace, especially in the last ten years, is the mentality where we feel we “deserve” to speak our minds and make a scene when in public when we don’t get the results we want. In some circles they call it a sense of entitlement. It’s a demand for respect. But I argue that it’s not respect if it has to be forced or coerced. Often, this perspective rears its ugly head in the restaurant or retail establishments where belligerent attitudes are rewarded with complimentary meals or discounted merchandise.

I have had more than a few acquaintances in my lifetime who have openly admitted that they purposefully raise a scene and become confrontational at a place of business simply because it’s the best way to get the results they want. They get catered to individually and often get what they wanted for free or at a discounted price.  Aside from one time at a theme park, I’ve never seen a customer removed from an establishment for their behavior.

We all want to be recognized and not overlooked, or ignored. As individuals, we want to be a part of something and feel like our contributions to society are being noticed. There have been numerous times where I simply did not exist in the context of a conversation, a public forum, on the road, even in my own home. Nonetheless, acting out to get results as an adult sounds eerily similar to a temper tantrum.

Regrettably, this has become acceptable with the continued practice of accommodating this attitude and, if I might stray a little, it’s even more ingrained in the realm of a sub-culture where public figures like athletes, stars and politicians often live with less accountability for their actions.  Domestic violence and sexual assault are just a few headlines pulled from the media coverage this week outside of the forum of the election. However, there is a double-edged sword with respect to public figures as they often tolerate excessive scrutiny under the media microscope. This should push them toward a more straight and narrow path but, in some cases, it has led them into the false belief that they are invincible and nothing can touch them.

That is, of course, until they get tackled in this game of life and get taken off the field.

What we need is a clean slate, an opportunity to start over, press the reset button, but we don’t have that luxury at this point. As we emerge into the final days of the 2016 election, I see clearly for the first time that this beautiful country we call the United States of America is in trouble. We can’t seem to have cordial discourse between rivals in politics and have sunken to the point where we are making a mockery of the American people as we too descend into the darkest part of our moral consciousness as we support our candidate and social media has stood by anxiously stoking the fire. In an era of reality television, drama is what gets ratings and if you’re not creating drama then you’re largely non-existent.

What truly concerns me is the perception that is being headlined to the world that America has lost their values, that we have lost the decency to treat each other with respect and  to treat people of other cultures with respect. We have forgotten to love each other for our differences and stand together united. We should be embracing our ideas and working together to achieve goals for the common good, but we choose to break each other down instead. If we truly want America to be great again, we need to realize that, as Americans, it is our civic responsibility to work together to bring the best people suited to govern this country into office.

Countries cannot be built, or maintained, by religious divination or by cut-throat business entrepreneurship. Neither can maintain a sense of wholeness between the entire community and both have a narrow minded view of who should benefit.  We need to go back to our roots where we learned to say please and thank you and open the door for each other and join together in times of need. We need to open our eyes to each other and see each person as an individual worthy of a voice instead of looking wearily at everyone with a suspicious eye.

We need to take that energy we have focused for so long on speculation and change our perspective into a productive one where we work collectively together to make change happen. This is our opportunity to define our future as division lines are becoming more unclear in this election, breaking down political barriers between parties and uniting us. We as the American people have grown to the point where we can work collectively to make change happen if we believe this is truly not the way our government should be run.

In many circles I have heard talk of America becoming too soft, that we can’t handle the truth and need to be coddled, but I argue that we have simply been in a slumber and we are finally waking up and seeing things clearly. All we have to do now is focus that clarity in the direction of change, not through aggressive assaults on our values, but in mindful positive reinforcement that allows for productive modifications that benefit the people as a whole.

Regardless of what this week’s election brings, change is definitively in our hands and it is our obligation to dig deep into our personal moral values and integrity and remember what is truly important in order to salvage our humanity and our country. Be dignified in your representation and hold yourself accountable to your actions and, above all else, remember your moral obligation in the years to come, to be a part of that change that will make America the amazing country it is meant to be. We are the shoulders that our great country stands on and the only way we can keep it from falling is by standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of all races, religions and personal inclinations without the biases that separate us.

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