Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:October 5th, 2009 22:54 EST
The American Dream or the American Denial?

The American Dream or the American Denial?

By Richard Taylor

   Being American means honoring our country`s history and its diversity; understanding that there are faults, but still believing in its greatness; and working in some way to make it even better. 

 Being American also means exercising one`s political responsibilities: voting and being an informed citizen, and supporting equal rights for all. 

 Being American means acknowledging the opinions of others with whom you may disagree. It means flying the flag and knowing the words to the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance and bursting with pride when you hear them. It means being thankful for all those who have given their lives for this country. 

 Finally, being American means appreciating its great beauty.

 "American" can be described in many ways, but most of all it`s about appreciating my country, loving it deeply and doing what I can to make the USA a better place.
   I am an American and I choose to make the USA a better place, so that means I must wake you up to what is really going on in our great America. Above are a few things I pulled off the web when I Googled "what does it mean to be an American". I did some more research on socialism versus capitalism and made some fantastic realizations. Socialism is "a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. On the other hand, capitalism utilizes the willpower of individuals, especially entrepreneurs, to foment economic activity. Capitalism is based on the assumption that individuals operate based on self interest; however, by doing so they not only help themselves, but also propel others towards economic success. As Adam Smith put it, "by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

   But it all comes down to a battle between greed (capitalism) and compassion (being American). Greed (meaning the almighty dollar) and compassion (meaning the care and respect for others regardless of sex or color) seem to be what it`s all about. It seems that the American dream has turned into how much money you can make no matter if it harms someone else or the environment. Capitalism is an economic system in which wealth, and the means of producing wealth, are privately owned, which is fine as long as it`s not at the expense of America. But it is.

   I thought being an American meant freedom. To be free of the tyrants that want to run "your" life and the way you live. I sorry to alert this to you, but the tyrants have crept back in, and they are very devious at having a facade that nobody can see past. A facade is a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect. Now who would these tyrants be? They are the corporations in America. I would call them American corporations, but they are anything but American. Why? Because all they`re out for is the almighty dollar. A lot of them do nothing to sustain America, only to use it for their own greedy purposes. They have forgotten what America is about. Does the phrase "United we stand" ring a bell?

   But now days I have come to the realization that they run America. How do they do this. They send lobbyists to Washington to finagle our government into getting bills passed that only the corporations profit from. And that is where all the corruption begins, right in our own government. And I really don`t know who to blame for that, because as far as I`m concerned they shouldn`t even be allowed in the hallways, for their only mission is deception and corruption. Should we blame Washington for letting them in, or maybe the corporations who send them? Or should we blame ourselves, the American people, for letting this kind of travesty happen. I have found that the American dream has turned into the American state of denial. We just look the other way and pretend that everything is okay when it`s not. 

   It`s time to wake up America and take back our freedom, for we have not truly been free for a long time now, not with the corporations in control. I can hear it now. But hey, it`s the American way. I don`t know about you, but it is definitely not in my best interest to have corporations corrupting and running "our" government the way they do. All they do is convince the government on how they should be spending "your" tax dollar. Let`s keep the lobbyists out, for they are not there for our well being. Does it really make any sense to you that corporations making millions and billions of dollars should get tax cuts and tax shelters because they make a lot of money? Do you get tax cuts or shelters because of what you make? No. Then why should they?

   Ahhh, it must be the lobbyists. Can you afford to send a lobbyist there? Then why are corporations able to get these people in? Because they have a lot of money? It hardly sounds fair, does it. So why are we allowing this to happen. Is it because these corporations provide you with materialistic "stuff" to make your life all warm and fuzzy? There is more to life than just money and stuff. But what about those that have had tragic things happen in their life? They`re Americans too. Do we just say "oh, that`s too bad" and look the other way, or do we become true Americans and help them with their problems? Are we patriots and come to the aid of our fellow citizens? Look what we did when 9/11 happened. All prejudice disappeared when that event happened. 
Here is another article I pulled off the web:
People in our post post-modern society love things and use people. People are used to getting places, climbing ladders, and selling and buying stuff. Things are fantasized about and sought after in the same greedy way. By far and away most of us Westerners live with more but have paradoxically and increasingly less in the spiritual and emotional bank. We may have flash cars, nice homes, a boat, and lots of technological gadgets and other stuff. More than we`d ever use half the time. Or if we do use them all, there`s less time left for doing `internal` work with ourselves or relating with people.

Not only do we love things but we tend to use people. Our closest relationships are typically there for us, and for our disposal. We all love our spouses, kids, and families but how often do we sell them out to our own needs? This is evidenced by the many dysfunctions and arguments that mar most families. Not just that; what about our `second-tier` relationships? Those of our work colleagues and acquaintances, where at least mentally we conceive where we might manipulate a discussion, meeting or relationship to serve our own purposes -- for instance, to be heard. The final frontier is on the road, where the selfish behavior of using people reaches the lowest standard, where people are abused wholesale for making innocent mistakes and we try and gain a fractional advantage by swapping lanes incessantly.

Do I sound harsh? Perhaps. There is no doubt there are many people who have the balance the other way, the right way, around. That is to put people first and utilize things as required. "Love people, use things" could be the mantra.

What should we do to reinforce the mantra?

Love People:
- Listen to people and be patient with them.
- Be prepared to lose the odd battle for the greater benefit of the team (or family).
- Give more than you receive.
- Say sorry often when you make mistakes and mean it.
- Give people the best resource you can give them; your time. Now that`s a good investment!
- When you`re out in the world, respect fellow human beings -- especially people you don`t know.
Use Things:
- Resist the love of things. Stop materialism in its tracks.
- Reject "retail therapy" as the sham it is.
- Be thankful for the things you`ve accumulated but don`t worship them.
- Don`t waste the resources available to you; respect them appropriately.
- Try sharing your things with other people (to show you love them), and even give them away if they serve you no valid purpose anymore.

No one would admit to not loving their families or friends as much as their stuff, but this is a firm challenge for each one of us to get the balance swinging more into the "love people, use things" direction. If we do this we can also tap into the reservoir of our own psyche to not only become a better person, but become more relational and more spiritual at the same time. It just bears thinking about.
Here`s a little snippet on one corporate industry.

 The pharmaceutical industry. This industry has "the largest lobby in Washington, D.C." said Marcia Angell, M.D., former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, in her book "The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It " (ISBN: 0-375-508465/Random House hardback). Their employees have served on the decision-making entities of government agencies responsible for creating reports to the public and suggesting legislative action.
   So the point I`m trying to make here is this. Are we really Americans with a true understanding of what freedom is, or are we in a state of denial without an understanding that we are not really free because corporations have lulled us to sleep so we can`t see that they are the one`s controlling our lives. So how are they controlling our lives? Right now they are hard at work trying to stop President Obama from health reform. There are the status quo corporations that don`t want it because it will hurt their bottom line, which is the flipping dollar. And then they try to make it seem that Obama`s plan will make death panels to decide whether our Elders live or die, when the whole time they are the ones with the death panels, such as the insurance corporations. They have been the one`s that decide if you live or die by making up reasons why they shouldn`t cover you. They make up the reasons to deny you coverage, and then you die because of it. Americans, the stupid dollar shouldn`t decide whether you live or die. This is America. Let us take back our freedom. Here is just one story of how the insurance corporations are deciding our fate, and it`s the failure of America to take responsibility.
         Dr. Alice Chen

     I want to share a story with you about why I`m so passionate about reform:

Two years ago, I took care of a businessman in Los Angeles. He had Crohn`s disease, and his health and nutrition had been getting worse for over a year. He was seeing doctors at one of our private hospitals, but he lost his insurance, so he couldn`t see his doctors anymore. Buying private insurance was impossible - no amount of money could have convinced an insurance company to cover him. He tried the county hospital ER, but the wait was 24 hours. He thought maybe he could manage.

A few months later, when he could barely walk from his bed to the door, he tried the ER again. By then, he had kwashiorkor (the kind of malnutrition that famine-stricken African children get) as a complication of his gut disorder. Every organ system was failing. I remember that even in the hospital, he tried to keep up his work via his Blackberry. We tried to help him, but he rapidly deteriorated and died just six days after admission.

I was devastated and talked to many colleagues about what I could have done differently to save my patient. He should have been living his life and being a productive member of society today, but he`s dead. We could have saved him if he had been able to come for care sooner -- instead of being deterred by his lack of insurance. Ultimately, I recognize that he died because the system failed him. In our great country, that is unacceptable.

   Bureaucracy is the name of a system that keeps us from being human beings. And the corporations are running it, because they have their lobbyists in it. Teddy Roosevelt once said "Americanism is a matter of the spirit and the soul". He didn`t say "If you don`t make enough money you`re going to die". We have been called to a higher duty in human history. That of compassion versus greed. What capitalism has turned into is the exploitation of their human beings in the name of the big buck. We have lost our real freedom because of it, and the millions of Americans deny it because they say "it`s American".
   I`ll say this again. Being American does not mean you`re going to make a lot of money. It means you have the freedom to do so, but it shouldn`t be at the expense of other human beings. It means you have the freedom to have different ideas. To be diverse. This is what the Statue of Liberty says upon entering this great place. 
    "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door".
   She talks of the homeless. How many of them do we have in this great nation? One is too many.
  About 3.5 million US residents (about 1% of the population), including 1.35 million children, have been homeless for a significant period of time.  Over 37,000 homeless individuals (including 16,000 children) stay in shelters in New York every night.  This information was gathered by the Urban Institute, but actual numbers might be higher. Back in the 70`s and 80`s Mitch Snyder made a brave stand for the homeless and mentally ill, because what they were getting was capital punishment, not the help you would expect of Americans. He eventually committed suicide (or maybe it was a conspiracy to shut him up) because he became overwhelmed by bureaucracy. They didn`t care about the homeless.                               

This is just one of the facets of the American denial I am talking about. 

  And many of you that read this are going to take offense at me for bringing the truth to your awareness. You will probably say "leave if you don`t like it". But I love America, for I can see how much greater she can be. We live now in a nation based on fear, exploitation, and denial. It has now become paramount to see the real truths and quit denying what we have become. And because you pay your taxes, it does not absolve you of it. And many of us wait until Christmas to become a little charitable. What about the rest of the year. During that whole period of time people are out there suffering in this great place. How disgusting is that?

   There are four kinds of homeless people, and yes, they are all Americans. There are the ones that have had something devastating happen to them such as an illness that their insurance wouldn`t cover and it wiped them out financially. That is just one of all the possible scenarios. Then there are the mentally ill that are just out there wandering around because nobody cares, and a lot of them were turned loose back in the Reagan era, because he said they were a drain on our economy. And then there are the teenagers who run away from the abuse they had been receiving from their very own families. And the fourth would be the addicted, and this happens to a lot of Americans. It happens because our own government won`t spend the money to secure the United States from the influx of hardcore drugs such as heroin and cocaine. We can spend six billion dollars a month on a so-called war over in Iraq, but we can`t spend it on protecting our borders from this stuff coming in.

   And what happens to these Americans that get addicted? After they have lost their job and everything they own to their addiction, we set up sting operations to catch them buying the drug of their choice and send them to jail or prison. We don`t try to help the addicted, we would rather warehouse them. And when we see these people on the streets we just ignore them as if they`ll magically disappear. But they won`t. Because you know why? They are Americans too. But we just go along and take everything for granted, and because it`s not us and it hasn`t happened to us, we don`t care.

   I think the real point I am trying to make here is that America has become divided. We need to re-unite and become a spiritual America, one that is compassionate and cares about everyone that is on her soil. Because if we don`t, America is going to fall apart. I see it happening everywhere. We need to create life sustainable corporations, you know, one`s that care about the people and environment rather than the almighty dollar, because when we die from not caring about others and the environment, we can`t take the buck with us.

   We need to open our eyes to the real truth and quit denying it. We need to stop lying to ourselves and saying everything is okay because we have a lot of money. That is not going to get us anywhere. And we finally have a leader that can see this and take us where we need to go, but the status quo keeps trying to block him and spread lies and fear about what he`s trying to do because it will hurt their bottom line, the buck. Wake up America!!!!!

   Do you ever wonder what happened to the great civilizations that preceded us? I think it was greed that wiped them out. And greed is going to do it again if we continue on the path we are on. Let`s get behind Obama and support him, for he was courageous enough to take on the mess America is in now, thanks to his predecessor, and make everything right. Stop listening to the status quo, (and I think you know who they are) and use the good morals and ethics God gave you, and back your President. It has been a long time since we had one that can really think, and Obama can do that. He is going to be our next hero if we will give him the chance to do what he knows is right.