I had one of those light bulb moments this morning. You know, when you all of a sudden see something that should have been clear all along, and you say “Ah-ha!”
I was listening to the news in my car, and they were discussing the accusations that John McCain had an “inappropriate” relationship with a young woman eight years ago. My first thought was “Oh, jeeze, they’re trying to smear him,” and I was disgusted. Then I thought, “Who cares?” His wife, surely, and his family, but come on.
This is the 21st century, and it appears that we as a nation and a culture are moving decidedly backwards. Our last president was reviled for having an “inappropriate” relationship with an intern, and yet the current administration can lie, cheat and steal, showing favoritism to certain big businesses, and dismantling environmental laws intended to save the earth. Science has shown us that we are in big trouble, and yet our leaders call it a hoax. They prefer a public which is blind, and which wants all the amenities of the good life without paying the price. Better to think about a candidate’s sex life than his policy on global warming…
Europeans laugh at our obsession with the sex lives of our politicians. They are miles ahead of us in stem cell research, all because so many Americans mistakenly confuse science with religious morality, and who thrive on misinformation and ignorance.
In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived in this land seeking freedom to practice their religion without persecution. Then there were the Puritans, with ever stricter rules on human behavior. When the founding fathers established the United States of America, they clearly set down a plan to separate these rules from the government’s purview. As an extension of the Pilgrims’ desire, they declared a separation of church and state, so that all citizens of the new country could worship as they pleased.
Yet in the beginning of this new century, we Americans have seen a strange phenomenon: some very vocal religious souls are trying to impose their beliefs on our legal system and our government. The neo-con movement gained pride and strength by preying on the fears of the ignorant and joining together in their hatred of anyone who is different from them.
The attitude toward gays is a perfect example. Homosexuality has existed for as long as there have been human beings. Yet some folks feel that they must rid the world of this perceived evil, and they will go to amazing lengths to deny others of their rights.
Well, I appear to have drifted, but that light bulb moment… The culture of the USA is going backwards. Instead of gaining insight, and increasing tolerance of others, we seem to be narrowing our view of what is acceptable! We no longer strive to be the first with a new technology, or the leader in medical research. How could this happen?
Is it possible that we peaked as a nation in the 60’s, when there was optimism and a growing potential for greatness? Are we destined to fall behind the rest of the world in science, technology, trade, education and even life style? John F. Kennedy gave our nation hope, and the perception of a Camelot. So what happened? We now have more millionaires than one could imagine, but we also have a shrinking middle class, and a growing number of working poor. The American dream is out of reach for more and more of us. Our social services and our health care have fallen sadly behind much of the world. Even our infant mortality rates are high!
In a country where so many have so much, and many, many more have too little, there is something seriously wrong.
Instead of moving forward, are we going backward? Are we reverting to puritanism with all of its rules and dictates? Are we dismantling our Constitution and Bill of Rights to strengthen that upper echelon of citizens? The executives of insurance companies get richer and richer, all while people are being denied the health care they need. Corporations post record profits while polluting the air and water, and lowering the standard of living of their workers. A ten dollar an hour worker faces a salary freeze while the CEO get a 12 million dollar bonus.
What used to be called “the greatest country in the world” has ceased growing. We are reverting to a place where ignorance and fear controlled our lives, rather than knowledge and wisdom.
This makes me incredibly sad.