Saturday, November 26, 2016

Was America Ever Truly Great?

I grew up in a fairly sheltered, very unusual environment. I believe that upbringing and my life experiences have given me the ability to see things objectively that others may not see. During my early years, I was living in the middle house between my grandparents and my uncle and his family in a commune type setup. This whole set up was in a very tiny town, so tiny that we went to the next town over for elementary school and high school. My town had the middle school. In India, this town would likely be considered a village, minus the panchayat.

My uncle was Arabic, adopted by my grandmother who couldn't bear children of her own. His wife, Italian. My father was a mix between German and Gypsy, also adopted by my grandmother when he was just over 2 years old. My mother come from Scottish royalty and German ancestry. My grandmother, the one doing all the adopting, was half Spanish, half French.

The town I grew up in was quite diverse. One of my closest friends growing up was Greek, his mother taught the language to us in middle school. I had friends from other countries as well. Looking back now, maybe that tiny area was an immigrant attractive community but as a child I didn't know nor care what an immigrant was. I had red friends, brown friends, white friends and the first boy I ever kissed was black. I was five and as an adult I feel like it was one of the cutest things ever but, my point is that I didn't grow up in a white-centered world nor did I grow up thinking anything other than people were people. Color, class and status never mattered in my world.

In my tiny little town it was easy to imagine that America was truly great. People really did live together happily. Everyone knew everyone, they took care of everyone and there was always someone there when you needed something. Now that I'm older though I also realize that I was related to over half the town.

As a teen, my mom moved us into the city into a joint family household with other family. I didn't know then but this was a city with a heavy KKK presence. I did the same things I'd always done. I surrounded myself with people I liked regardless of color, class or status. I had my core group of 5 close friends. One was a lesbian, one was black, one was partially disabled, one an olive-skinned girl of unknown origin. We had our own thing going on and I knew then we weren't part of the normal crowd but I loved them all like sisters and we were happy.

As I aged and started my own life I began to see all the things my childhood innocence has shielded me from. I became fearful, but at the same time I held on to my beliefs and continued my life as I always had. I still developed relationships based solely on the person and whether or not I liked their personality.

Now that I've really had a chance to see America for what it really is and what it has been, I question, was America ever really great? I honestly don't think so. America has been rife with struggle, hate and inhumanity for far too long. Obviously I can't speak beyond news reports, historical accounts and the stories available to me but from what I see we have too long of a history of hate, manipulation and control and it's not really getting any better.

We now fight hate with more hate, mindlessly allow ourselves to be manipulated and controlled and we're even projecting those attitudes onto our children. That all became evident after this last election. People misused the word 'protest' to describe violent riots as if they didn't even understand the difference. This is what we've become and it didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen because of the election. That hatred has always been there, we just seem to like to blame it on anything we can and never accept responsibility for ourselves anymore.

There's no honor or integrity left. We glorify violence. We applaud sex offenders and we routinely cover up pedophilia because someone with money and power has offered to do something for us. We glorify celebrities who we know are degrading our society and gladly continue to financially support them. We've stopped truly standing for anything and thus, now we are falling far from grace.

You're no longer respected if you speak out against atrocities and social-ills. Instead your labeled and branded as a terrorist or jailed for having an unpopular opinion. Good lives are ruined so that unscrupulous ones can continue to destroy this nation. America isn't truly free and it certainly is not great.

Why would anyone ever say it was great? It hasn't been in my lifetime. Even in the 70's when hippies protested it wasn't great then either. Their lives were destroyed because they protested a war. Some of them had to go into hiding and are still there. Is that the sign of a great nation? Before that there was public segregation fueled by ignorance and hate. Was that great? Prior to that we had the great depression.

In our history we've had women forced to work their husbands jobs for less pay while their husbands went off to war. We've treated women like property that didn't matter. We treated children as slave labor, born only to work the land. Women and children were beaten substantially without any legal recourse or advocacy to help them.

We've banned organic substances that had medicinal benefits for completely idiotic or unknown reasons. We still routinely get people addicted to medicinal substances under the pretense that, even for simple things, a person should not have to suffer. (And by that line I'm referring to giving high-dose narcotics to people in a hospital setting routinely rather than offering less addictive substances that could do the exact same job. Most of the time they don't even try the light-weight stuff.)

Our hospitals bill exorbitant prices for services and use of equipment while in other countries, even those with the same 1st world status we have, bill pennies on the dollar to what we charge. Doctors push pills on people then charge them as much as $600 a pill for the exact same medications, from the exact same companies, charge pennies for in Mexico and other countries.

We sell toys that talk to and interact with our children so we don't have to. Most children have smartphones or tablets or computers and so do the parents. Each one glued to the screen as if they no longer know how to hold a face-to-face conversation.

We're routinely being pitted against each other for all sorts of reasons. Income, race, geography, job role, financial status, shade, etc. The list goes on. All of this is going on right under most people's noses and they don't even notice or care.

What is so great about that?

1 comment:

  1. I think this could be the story of any other country. Seems more like India to me. I think America is great because despite all its faults, it is the land of innovation. Somebody somewhere is trying to push the envelope all the time, be it a new idea, innovation, anything. The capitalist consumerist economy keeps the engine of innovation running. There is always something new to sell.

    By all means, America has racial problems, but it is nothing compared to India. We have a Pandora's Box in comparison. Can you imagine Bill Gates dropping out of a prestigious college in India and going on to set up something like Microsoft. He would have been branded as a disgrace to his family. This is what makes America great. It is not for nothing that it is called the land of opportunities. People from all over the world flock to America. So, there must be something which they do not get in their own countries. I think there is a lot in America to make it great. Whether Mr. Trump would America great or not, only time will tell, but it is great anyway.