Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You Disappoint Me Some Days, America

You disappoint me when:

  • You go on and on about the rights of the individual and personal responsibility, even as you are denying people their civil rights and failing to hold people accountable for their malfeasance.
  • You get angry at how government is taking away your free speech, when you can pretty much well rant about it and no cop shows up at your door to arrest you.
  • You rail about the size of government, but when someone goes to cut the government program that benefits you, you decide that some government is OK just the way it is.
  • You worry about national debt during a recession, when people are being tossed out of their homes, left without food or shelter, all because a bunch of rich people tried to get richer at their expense.
  • You accept the lies in the media and from political parties as truth.
  • You fail to challenge your legislators to explain themselves when they take positions contrary to the public good.
  • You demand to be treated with decency and dignity, even as you turn your back on the disadvantaged and label them as "undesirable" and "worthless."
  • You make a big stink about the price of gas, while driving a vehicle that consumes it at a rate that is unsustainable.
  • You scream about Socialism in our country, and then proceed to take advantage of all the services that are brought about our social contract with the government.
  • You flail about in a frenzy over taxes, but when someone suggests raising taxes on people who have the most money to make the pay a fairer share, you don't support it.
  • You complain incessantly about how government doesn't listen to you... and then you elect the same people to Congress to represent you.
  • You moan about the state of America, but will not lift a finger to do anything about it, and get furious when anyone else tries.
  • You remain silent on the death of a black boy who was bothering no one.
You are a mass of contradictions, America. We laud achievement in public, but in our schools, the bright kids are bullied and put down by their more ignorant peers. We stand firmly on the bedrock of the rights of the individual, but treat some of our own as if they are less deserving of those rights simple because of who they are. We go on talking about freedom, complaining about how our rights are being infringed, even as our government tortures people in the name of national security. White Americans act as if having to share the nation with non-Whites is some sort of indignity. We praise hard work, and then denigrate the worker when they want a fair wage for it.

You better start asking yourself, America: who are we really? Are we the nation of high ideals and civil liberty and democracy? Or are we the nation of get-what-you-can, keep-your-hands-off-my-stuff, my-rights-are-more-important-than-yours? Are we worthy of the sacrifice of our ancestors in shaping this nation, or do we shame their memory by trampling all over their sacrifice? Is it liberty and justice for all, or just for those with money and influence?

You disappoint me some days, America, but in you I see aged wisdom, youthful indiscretion, backward thinking, forward vision, solidarity, isolationism, democracy, closet totalitarianism, charity, sloth, greed, and hard work, stirred together. At some point, the contents of our nation much match the contents of the character we choose our nation to portray. At some point, we must become the nation we have always thought we were. If not now, we may not get too many more chances.

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